Most Canadian employers have been required to have their employees work from home. This new practice may leave some employees and their managers separated from each other for the first time. Embrace it or not, supervising others when working remotely is a new workplace reality.
Fortunately, there are specific, research-based steps that managers can take without great effort to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.
Here are are few tips to help you effectively supervise and support your remote workers.
Set Clear Expectations
Be sure to set clear expectations for your remote workers. Develop a policy.
Expectations include the hours they put in to how and when they are to communicate with you.
Treat Remote as Local
Give your employees as much access to you as possible.
Remember, they’re used to seeing you in the halls, on the job site, having coffee with you, stopping by your office, etc. They don’t have that access now and may feel distant.
Get the Infrastructure Right
Invest in reliable tools and technology to make Working From Home (WFH) possible.
If remote employees can’t download files, can’t access internal portals, or struggle hearing on conference calls- then you have failed to address the basics.
Engage your remote workers daily through some kind of communication.
Outa sight- outa mind is not a leadership tactic, nor is waiting for this whole “corona thing” to go away.
Constant interaction and engagement will help remote workers feel included and connected to the organization. And remember- it is critical, especially with isolated employees, to schedule some video “face-to-face” time.
Trust Your Team
Sometimes, managers struggle with embracing a remote workforce.
They have uncertainty about whether the work will get completed at the same level as if the employee were in the office- or on site. Get over it, research proves remote workers are more apt to over work. When personal life and work life are both under the same roof, it’s harder to switch off.
Empathize and appreciate your employees’ life and potential struggles by discussing family, their well being, their community, etc.
Make sure your employees are aware of company mental health resources (EAP) and community resources where necessary.
Provide Opportunities for Social Interaction when WFH
One of the most essential steps a manager can take is to structure ways for employees to interact socially while working remotely.
Leave some time at the beginning of team calls just for non-work items- like catching up with everyone.
Other options include virtual pizza parties or virtual office parties.
While these types of events may sound artificial or forced, experienced managers and remote workers report that virtual events help reduce feelings of isolation while promoting a sense of belonging.
And finally….Exhibit Leadership
Employees look to their managers for cues about how to react to sudden changes or in crisis situations. If the manager is stressed and helpless- this will have a “trickle-down” effect. And remember…..
The true test of leadership is how well you function in a crisis.
Our new one-hour “Supervising Others When Working Remotely”
webinar is now available.