The coronavirus pandemic has had many unexpected consequences and whilst there’s no doubt businesses would have liked to be prepared for the eventualities they’d see, most simply weren’t. However, all is not lost: there are lots of ways you can connect with and manage your employees remotely without having to download specialist software, send them home with extra screens or pay for servers to be connected remotely. Follow these top tips for efficient and thorough management of your teams, remotely.
Keep communication open
In times such as this, it’s more important than ever to foster a working relationship with your colleagues that is open and honest. Ensure your team are able to communicate throughout the day on a consistent channel that everyone has access to. This can be set up for free with the likes of Slack or Zoom, although paid-for programs are available if you need specific functionality.
Sustain ‘tea break’ chat
Allow at least one communication channel to stay informal, if you can, and check in on people’s wellbeing as well as their professional performance. If you need to, set a reminder to chat on a personal level with each team member regularly, so that you don’t forget. Human connection is just as important now as it is in the office and will help maintain relationships for when you are all together again.
Trust your team
Without a specific set-up for remote working on each team member’s laptop or server login, it can be difficult to know for sure that productivity levels are where they’d be when in the office. Being realistic, you can expect a slight dip in performance and efficiency for a myriad of reasons, but it’s critical that you maintain a sense of trust in your team. Working at home can be hugely disruptive and distracting for many (particularly for those with children once the schools close) but demonstrating understanding and faith in your staff is key to ongoing employee engagement.
Even if you’re not spending your day back-to-back in the meetings you would usually, a sense of schedule can result in increased productivity and give some normality to your working days. Discuss planning with your team and ensure you’re all available at the same time every day on a shared communication channel for a team ‘huddle’. This could even be done by videoconferencing if the technology allows! Printable day planners are available for free in many formats online.
Maintain professional standards
It’s very easy to drop out of habits when out of the office, but many meetings and reviews can continue at distance. Performance reviews and difficult conversations should happen as early as possible to avoid any issues inflating and will help sustain a healthy expectation level of employees. You probably don’t need to wear a suit to sit at your home desk, but be prepared for video calling ad hoc – changing out of your pyjamas will make you feel business-like and adopt a professional attitude, even if you’re not ‘on show’.