In the post pandemic world, the hybrid or fully remote working model has been widely adopted on a global scale. The response to Covid-19 forced employees across the globe to work from home exclusively and for extended periods of time. Whilst this presented challenges it also created opportunities. We recognise both as an employer and as a company operating within the industry of Recruitment and HR that this has changed the landscape of recruiting and staff retention.
Taking our own organisation as an example, when restrictions were lifted and employees were free to return to the office, we had some employees rushing to get back and eager for face-face interaction and routine, we had those who flourished working from home and enjoyed the work/life integration, and we had those who sat in the middle and had a preference to work hybrid. Along with many organisations we adopted a working from home policy to accommodate preferences and ensure we retained our top talent.
Managing and leading a team of remote workers has opened discussion to “challenges” and talk of “isolation” and all the negative aspects of remote working. We believe remote or hybrid working to be something you simply need to adapt to. Changing your mentality towards remote working, focusing on the positives and solutions to some obstacles it may pose will enable you to not only have an efficient and effective team, but you could even see a more motivated and capable team develop with the lack time and expense commuting and having flexibility to accomplish “life tasks” therefore enjoying personal time to its full potential.
Here are the tips to follow to ensure you can effectively manage and run a remote team.
Have a clear working from home Policy
Do you have a ‘’Working from home’’ policy? This is critical so your employees know exactly what is expected of them and when. Do the times of work vary, or do they need to be contactable within certain hours? These expectations need to be set out to eliminate any frustrations or scepticism of team members thinking there are employees “slacking”.
Ensure your IT and telco systems are set up so that there are easy methods of internal communication and access to information. If you have templates or project information that is not accessible to remote workers, how can they do their work? If there is not a quick and easy way of jumping on a video call with your manager/mentor to ask a question or be able to share your screen, then how can they learn? These systems can be costly but are the backbone to any organisation and a worthwhile investment.
It is not all about work! Clearly everyone has duties, responsibilities, tasks and deadlines however it is important not to lose the team building, getting to know each other and being able to not take things so seriously for a small time each week. At GRS, every Friday at 9am we have a companywide Zoom call and participate in a Quiz, with a different Quiz master each week. Try having something within each week even if for a small time which brings the team together and is not work related. It could be a riddle to solve together, a virtual murder mystery, guess the team member (from a childhood photo). There are so many resources for online team bonding games so find what best suits your team culturally and give it a go!
Understanding employees’ challenges/distractions
You must understand your teams domestic set up and what could cause any distractions for your team to work around this. Perhaps they have no childcare after 4pm and then they will have children in the background. This doesn’t mean they can’t work but to save frustrations from you as a manager or anxiety from the employee, arrange any meetings or collaborative tasks for before 3pm. If they don’t have a home office expect you may see a partner or family member walk by. If they get a bad back explore options of an office chair for them at home. Most situations can be worked around but understanding the set-up can ensure you adjust and accommodate to get the best out of your remote employee.
Structured and Unstructured Check-Ins
Depending on the seniority of the remote worker and how much support they may need it is good to have check-ins to support and guide your team, this can be daily, weekly, monthly or even quarterly for senior staff, but the meeting should have a purpose/agenda and allow them to speak too. In addition to this you should check in with your remote team spontaneously, it only needs to be a 5 minute call but just to say “how are you?” or “do you need anything?” catching them off guard you may unveil an issue you did not know existed them work on a resolution or you simply might make your team member feel valued and a lot happier to continue their day 😊 either way it is a positive outcome.
Even if your company is not KPI driven or focused and even if the role is not stereotypically one that needs KPIs when you have a remote team it needs to be crystal clear what is expected in terms of performance and in what timescales. The more junior the employee the shorter the time for indicators to be met. For Graduates and junior members of staff even daily performance indicators are required. For more senior it can be weekly/monthly/quarterly. These should also be frequently reviewed so your team know that need to be on track and you can identify any training gaps or promotion opportunities.
No matter what industry or discipline/field you are in whilst you’re not a therapist any manager should be able to recognise when someone needs emotional support and offer empathy to tricky emotional situations. With a mangers acknowledgement and then later affirmation that they can get through any emotional matters an employee is more likely move on from the challenge with a sense of purpose and focus.