Working from home may sound like a dream to most employees but can be quite a nightmare for managers.
In the light of the recent Covid-19 pandemic, many workplaces are shifting work online, pushing its workforce to work remotely from home prematurely without preparation. This has caused a significant fall in productivity and output levels. The teammate you used to holler across the desk for something you need is now a virtual entity on the Internet, his availability signified by a single-word status: Away, Offline and if you are lucky, Online. Work gets done at a snail-crawl pace and the natural cadence of work activity has gone haywire. It is already a difficult and delicate task to manage teams successfully at the workplace- what more a remote virtual workforce?
While difficult, managing a team remotely may not be as hard as you think. Here are the 3 best practices that we have compiled to help you and your teams work better and smarter from the comforts of your own home.
- Set consistent daily check-ins
As a manager, it is important to maintain high standards of accountability and responsibility among your team members especially when working from home. Set an appropriate timing for your team to meet online at the start of the day and another time at the end of the day. Take this opportunity of being away from the structural confinements of an office space to create a light and breezy virtual space. As a manager you have the authority to dictate the atmosphere of the virtual meeting so strive to make it less formal and fun! Your employees will thank you for it and may even look forward to the meetings, making them more productive and engaged than an actual in-person meeting. Encourage your employees to set actionable goals at the start of the day and to reflect on their progress end of the day. This practice encourages both accountability and communication among your team members.
- Empower your virtual team with the latest technology
Modern problems require modern solutions. Stay abreast and updated of the newest applications and technologies in the collaboration space to help empower your team as they work from home. Here’s 2 of our favourite collaboration apps that are not only effective but a breeze to use!
Anyone who has used Slack before will tell you that it is magic. It’s akin to the modern-day email. Gone are the days of waiting for email replies, getting lost in email threads and keeping up with email mentions. Through Slack, email conversations are replaced with natural chat conversations similar to a modern-day messenger like WhatsApp. You can create multiple groups with different people according to teams such as Marketing, Sales, Finance, or by projects. Slack encourages efficiency and collaborative work ensuring that the natural pace of work in the office can be replicated in the virtual world.
To minimize hiccups due to inability to access files on the office network or database, consider a cloud data storage solution. While there are many competitors in the cloud storage space, Box stands out for us because of its user interface which mimics a native computer system. This makes the app easily accessible by most employees even if they are not tech-savvy. Having a cloud storage system means your employees have easy access to critical files they need to do work, reducing the downtime of having to ask for said files from another colleague or you.
- Be flexible!
Last but not least, and perhaps most importantly is learning to be flexible as a leader. Home is a place of comfort for most people and working from home efficiently does not come naturally to the vast majority. It is therefore important to be understanding and compassionate towards your employees when managing them remotely. Several employees would need more time than others to get accustomed to working at home and optimizing their performance. As a smart leader, it is important to identify this early and ensure that they are receiving adequate support from either a teammate you have nominated to help them or even yourself! You will need to demonstrate both strength and sensitivity in managing expectations for both yourself and your employees when working remotely.
The Covid-19 outbreak is projected to last up to a year long and may very well define the future of working as we know it. Working remotely may not be ideal but it does present opportunities for your team to work more collaboratively and communicate more effectively. By building your management style around these three tips, you are setting your team up for greater teamwork and productivity when they ultimately return to the office to work.