2020 saw the global workforce shift from office work to a remote home set-up almost overnight. While many gaps of ‘working from home’ were brought to the surface, as were many subsequent solutions.
Employers realised that remote working could be impactful if executed effectively. It saved time and allowed them to get a diverse range of people with special skill sets on board.
Even the workforce found this new work set up highly productive, as seen in the Global Workplace Analytics report where 80 to 90% of all employees said they preferred working remotely.
In such a scenario, effective leadership is required for managing a remote workforce, to ensure employees stay productive and are able to keep consistent with company values and changes. Read on to find out how this is achievable.
Remote working - the new normal
At the beginning of 2021, Salesforce announced that it will be offering three different ways of working to its employees. This includes a "flex" option where employees can work in the office for up to three days per week, full-time remote working and lastly, fully office based.
According to Salesforce, popularity amongst employees to return to the usual 9 to 5 working day is depleting but many companies cannot afford to say that just yet. It’s important to remember however that flexible work culture, while at times more desirable, comes with the need for a solid management and operational structure in place.
Some companies are still struggling to fully adapt to a remote setup. Their major concerns are maintaining productivity levels and most importantly continue to connect and engage with employees digitally. In short, many employers are still unsure as to how to manage employees working from home.
As digital transformation continues to change the business world, it’s up to employers to scale back on more traditional methods of management and move towards incorporating newer methods of operation to match with the times. This includes overcoming challenges in managing remote teams.
Managing remote employees
While relocation wasn’t an option in the past, employers are now happy to hire remote workers. Remote working, however, also requires being savvy with managing remote teams and ensuring that despite the physical distance, the team work levels remain the same. When it comes to managing remote workers, a few golden rules apply.
Remote working has no room for micromanaging and you must therefore trust your employees to do the job properly and work efficiently. This also means hiring well to ensure that the person is sincere and takes accountability for their work.
According to the CEO of US-based start-up Cameyo, Andrew Miller, it’s important to feel secure with the entire process. This includes not getting stressed if you see your employees taking 10-15 minutes away from their desk. Consider it to be the equivalent of co-workers chatting or stopping by each other’s desk, he argues.
Building a bond with people in a physical space is easier than digitally. It’s therefore important to keep in regular contact with employees and occasionally engage in light conversation with them. If everything becomes strictly business, it will get in the way of building a relationship with employees and they may also feel more hesitant in approaching you.
Include more one-on-one sessions, virtual team-building exercises and place emphasis on an open-door policy so others can come to you more easily with their queries or problems.
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Smooth flow of work in a remote setup is dependent on getting the right tools on board. If the company’s chosen communication software isn’t effective, this will most likely slow workflow and frustrate employees.
2020 has seen the onset of virtual communication programmes such as Zoom for video conferencing, Microsoft Teams for instant messaging and Google Docs for document collaboration. Think about your company requirements first and choose a tool that is reliable and effective.
Effective allocation of work and efficient organisation skills are crucial while managing remote workers. Be clear in your briefs and also provide a specific timeline for deadlines. A vague meeting may get lost in transition over long distances as the employee may not understand the urgency of the task.
It’s also good to put meetings in place with monthly goals that will be useful for the employee to manage work and meet expectations accordingly.
This article is written by Nandita Kaushal.