Working from home has become a more popular decision among employers and employees in recent years. Both sides of the aisle benefit from a remote workforce. For employers, they are able to work with the most talented people no matter their geographical location, in addition to helping reduce business costs associated with overhead. Employees enjoy the more sustainable work-life balance that is attached with a work from home setting.
However, remote workforces also face complications and roadblocks. As a manager, it is a common fear that your team will take advantage of a work from home model. They will get distracted and productivity will decrease. Communication is also a concern as face-to-face interaction is off the table — even as video conferencing is an easy accessible option, it does not substitute for an in-person conversation.
As a team leader, you want to best motivate and support your team — providing the right tools and opportunities for them to succeed. However, you also need to ensure that a work from home environment does not impede goals and deadlines being met. With a lack of physical oversight, this can be a worrisome dilemma.
We’ve compiled five helpful tips for walking that thin line between being a micro-manager and an inaccessible manager. Implementing these tips into the work lives of your employees will help increase the efficiency, satisfaction, and trust in your relationship dynamic.
1. Set Clear Expectations
When managing a remote workforce, your expectations for yourself, employees, and the company as a whole need to be boldly outlined. This needs to become a black and white definition. If your employees know what needs to be done and by when, on a day-in, day-out basis there can be a clear answer to who is effectively performing. With strict expectations in place, it is important to not suffocate your team with extreme pressure or lack of autonomy. Therefore, don’t confuse activity with accomplishment. It is best to hold your team accountable by what the end result is, and not what it took to get there. At the end of the day, you just need to care about quality production that is met on time.
2. Create a Communication Strategy
Finding a communication groove is one concern that both managers and employees have when not working in an office setting. An open and accessible line of communication is key to any business. As a manager, it falls on your shoulders to draft and implement a communication strategy that is fair, open, and honest. Employees need to feel that they have available access to your time if a question or problem arises. Likewise, you should expect to be able to quickly reach your team anytime during business hours. Whether it be daily phone calls, email updates, Slack channels, Zoom one-on-ones, or whatever else — a dependable communication strategy is a must when not sharing cubicle space.
3. Be Flexible
Part of working remotely is that it offers both managers and employees flexibility in their workday and personal lives. There will be times when employees need half an hour to pick up their child from school or run out to pick up a prescription. Allowing employees some degree of flexibility delivers a sense of trust, and helps strengthen the bond between manager and employee.
4. Offer Encouragement & Emotional Support
Working remotely also features its set of struggles for employees, especially in 2020. There is a sense of loneliness in working from home that can affect employees. In addition, your employees are human too. They are not immune to the happenings of the world or their personal lives. Helping encourage and providing a listening ear for your team can help fight burnout, disengagement, and isolation. As a manager, you’re not only there to lead, but also care.
5. Provide Social Interaction Opportunities
Regardless of your company using a work from home model temporarily or permanently, it is critical to provide social interaction opportunities for your team. These Google Hangouts, in-person meetups, or Zoom parties play a role in helping employees feel connected and comfortable with their work experience. Employees need the ability to communicate and collaborate with fellow colleagues in a non-work setting. These social functions help relieve stress, increase levels of engagement, and provide greater job satisfaction.
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