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Effectively Managing New Remote Workers

COVID-19 has displaced many companies and established a remote work lifestyle for their employees. While some might be excited to start this new trend, managers can feel a bit intimidated with the change and unsure how working from home will affect their teams, projects and business.

It is important to know that there will be challenges to overcome when shifting to a full work-from-home setup for the first time, such as employees feeling isolated, lack of communication structure, and feeling left out. Fortunately, there are ways to solve these challenges and still effectively manage a team.


Prepare Your Team

Ideally, switching to working remotely would have been well planned out, ensuring all bases are covered. However, that was not the case recently with the fast, worldwide spread of the coronavirus. Businesses were not given a reasonable amount of time to plan the transition before they needed to close the doors on their physical locations. Still, it is essential to prepare your team with the right resources they will need to be successful from home. Standard tools include a laptop with charging dock, webcam (if not included in the laptop) and the proper software for collaboration, which will help you more effectively manage your now distributed workforce. 

The right communications tools are just as important as the others in keeping your team engaged and productive. Applications such as MiCloud Connect and MiTeam Meetings will bring your team together just as if they were in the office with you. Your employees will feel the benefits of more personal work collaboration and make them feel less isolated as they work from home. 


Set Expectations with Your Team

While remote work is nothing new, you may be in a situation where your employees are working from home for the first time. Setting clear expectations with them will help keep your team stay focused on project goals. 

Establishing regular working hours but remaining flexible with everyone’s new schedule will drive productivity. Remember, each employee’s situation will be different as some now have to juggle family and chores along with work, so focus on results and not on hours worked. Outlining project plans, tasks and goals as the ways through which you will measure success will instill confidence into your team as they adapt to their new environments. 

The right remote working communications tools will assist you in making the most out of your time, and determining which tools are best for different instances will help you maximize it. Quick questions or task assignments can be communicated via email or instant messaging, a tool also beneficial to use when something urgent pops up and needs to be answered immediately. Since your tone can be lost in long, wordy emails, communicate more detailed conversations or work assignments over video conferencing.


Explore more of our remote working resources and tools >

Establish Regular Check-Ins

In an office environment, employees could easily walk into your office, or catch you in the break room to quickly chat. Now that organizations aren’t physically in the same place, it will be vital to set up communication routines with your team members, both individually and as a whole, while working remotely.

Establishing regular video check-ins with your team shows that you are available to them, ready to listen and open to feedback. Video calls are the best way to have one-on-one and team meetings because communicating over video creates more personal experience while making your workers feel included. Having weekly one on ones or daily team meetings are a great start to establishing a communication routine.

During one-on-ones, don’t make the meeting all about work - engage your team members on a more personal level. Yes, discussing pressing tasks is important, but showing a personal interest helps build rapport - especially in these turbulent times. Setting some time aside to talk about non-work-related things can do wonders for stress management and morale. Use your one-on-ones as a way to ensure your employees are coping well with the new normal. Remember, you and your employees are working through a pandemic; checking in with your team will help your employees feel more confident in their work, and in return, you will have a happier, more productive distributed workforce.  


Over-communicate... and then some

While it may not seem obvious, over-communication is actually key in a remote working environment. Not only does it help keep your team on task, but it lessens the feelings of isolation your employees may be experiencing. Loneliness is a big hurdle in keeping your remote team’s morale up. You should already be communicating with your team daily, but even when you feel as if you are over-communicating, go ahead and do so more and remind your employees you are there for them whenever they may need you.

Be appreciative of your team’s efforts with projects they are assigned or tasks they’ve completed. Communicate recognition with employees individually or with a call-out in a team meeting. This acknowledgment will let them know you are paying attention to their successes and are there to support them.


Be Engaging

You’ve implemented daily or weekly check-ins with your team, and you’re constantly conversing with them. Now it’s time to add fun to your team's remote working routine!

Structure exciting and social ways to engage your employees as they work from home. Create virtual happy hours or implement video-lunches as part of your weekly schedule as a way to ensure that everyone unplugs from work for a little socializing. Your employees can join video conferences or chat streams dedicated to non-work talk and communication, like sharing photos of pets or talking about the latest movie or series. Engaging with your team beyond a work environment will be helpful and appreciated during this time of isolation.

By establishing clear expectations on working remotely, scheduling regular check-ins and over-communicating with your team, you can exceptionally manage your team.  Remember to be accessible and respond quickly to your team to show them you are there when they need you, and to be supportive and appreciative so that your team feels included. Providing ways for your team to stay engaged with each other can combat any feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Working from home is not ideal for every company but understanding the challenges and ways to overcome them as a manager will help you and your new remote team be successful.

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