As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, countless companies worldwide have transitioned to a remote workforce. Although nearly one-fourth of American employees worked remotely, at least part of the time, prior to coronavirus-sparked office closures, those new to remote work are currently adjusting to having been separated from their coworkers and their managers for the first time. And navigating work outside of the office can undoubtedly be tricky. Before this past spring, information about the most efficient and successful methods for setting up remote work was relatively sparse on the Internet. However, today, there are steps that managers can take to increase the engagement and efficiency of their remote employees.
Schedule Routine Daily Check-Ins
Scheduling daily calls with remote teams is a step that many successful remote managers, like Anthony Lapadula, Managing Director of Aegis Capital Corp., have taken. Depending on how collaborative a team might be, managers can establish a routine series of one-on-one calls or a comprehensive all-team call. When constant and predictable, daily calls can empower remote employees to voice their concerns, ask questions, or simply touch base with their manager. Moreover, these calls can help to foster or recapture the collaborative environment found in physical office spaces.
Offer Numerous Communication Technologies
When working remotely, employees need more than email to navigate their day to day demands adequately. With a more robust variety of technology, including collaborative messaging apps like Slack, remote employees can connect more efficiently, seamlessly, and rapidly.
Video conferencing is another essential communication tool for remote workers. Providing visual cues that empower enhanced group knowledge, video conferencing minimizes feelings of isolation among remote workforces. Moreover, video conferencing is preferable for complicated or delicate conversations, as it produces a more personal feel than an email or phone call.
Establish Guidelines and Provide Structure
When managers set clear-cut expectations for communication, remote work can become more gratifying and productive. In other words, establishing guidelines for frequency, methods, and timing of communication can streamline remote work. Whether you prefer video conferences later in the day and one-on-one phone calls in the morning, or vice versa, relaying this to your team will allow them to communicate with you more effectively. Additionally, it is advantageous for managers to inform their remote staff of the best means of communication and times to contact them directly throughout the day. And managers should pay appropriately close attention to communication between team members, confirming that they are sharing information as required and staying on task.
Encourage Remote Socialization and Extend Emotional Support
When managing remote teams, managers must encourage remote socialization amongst team members and provide a structure for those interactions. By creating space for non-work items to be discussed throughout the workday, like at the start of a team call, managers can help foster connections between their team members. Other options for remote socialization include virtual pizza parties and virtual office parties. These events can help to alleviate feelings of isolation and promote teamwork.
Furthermore, managers are encouraged to acknowledge their employees’ stress, anxieties, concerns, and struggles. Managers should regularly ask questions, carefully and actively listen, and check-in with their remote employees. The most effective managers will consistently reaffirm their confidence in their remote teams, supporting them to work from home with greater focus and determination.