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The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshaped the way we work in many ways. One of these is the global transition to remote working arrangements. Due to physical distancing requirements, many workplaces had to close down or limit their operations. Some had to have their employees work from home.
Two years since the pandemic began, many have adjusted well to working from the confines of their residences. In fact, 30 percent of the global workforce is currently working remotely. Although this arrangement has many advantages, it can be challenging to adjust to, especially for industries that require more hands-on management.
Let’s look at the challenges of remote work and how to manage your team better when working from home.
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The transition to remote work was barely that. Pandemic restrictions practically forced businesses to work remotely or close down indefinitely. Still, many have adjusted.
No matter your business—whether you’re a smaller limited liability company or a bigger corporation — remote work does present some unique challenges. Below are some of the common difficulties remote teams face:
- Absence of direct supervision
- Lack of access to tools or information
- Social isolation
- Unseen distractions
Of course, many remote teams have persisted, but these challenges are still worth looking into. When left unchecked, they could affect employee performance and company output as a whole.
7 Ways to Better Manage Your Work-From-Home Team
Due to the challenges that remote work poses, managers need to take extra care to make up for them. Here are some ways to manage your remote team better and make working from home more comfortable for everyone involved.
1. Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Regularly setting goals and expectations helps maintain direction for every team member. You could do this at the beginning of each week, month, or quarter, whichever is necessary for your line of work.
Arriving at your goals for the week (or month, quarter, or year) as a team helps create a sense of accountability in each employee. It also sets a baseline for everyone to come back to and assess in the following meetings.
2. Schedule Daily Check-ins
Since you cannot see or speak with one another in person, you need to be aware of your team’s current performance in some way. Checking in with them via a short meeting is a great alternative.
If your team is new to working from home, these are especially helpful in keeping track of everyone’s tasks. What is everyone working on? Are there any issues that need troubleshooting? Through these check-ins, your team could easily alert you to any roadblocks they may encounter so you could provide appropriate solutions.
3. Prioritize Communication
Maintaining communication in an on-site environment is already tricky enough. Without the benefit of a shared environment, maintaining communication within your team should be a top priority.
When in doubt, over-communicate. It’s better than not communicating at all and ending up blind to possible issues your team may be facing. Let your team know that your lines are open throughout the workday and that they should not hesitate to contact you if anything comes up.
4. Take Advantage of Technology
Due to the necessity of remote work, the pandemic has caused businesses to increase software spending, particularly on web conferencing software (67 percent) and collaboration tools (57 percent). With the vast array of options available, it’s best to take advantage of these tools to aid your daily tasks.
Instead of meeting in person, teams have moved to web conferencing software such as Zoom or Google Meet. Time-tracking software is also helpful in monitoring your team’s working hours, which could be particularly necessary for those with flexible schedules.
If your company hasn’t decided on any specific software yet, you could suggest trying out a few programs to see which ones work best for your team. It might not be easy at first, especially if you are new to working from home, but the right software will soften the challenges of remote setups.
5. Provide Adequate Resources
When one is used to working on-site, suddenly having to work from home could be a jarring experience. This experience could be amplified if the employee does not have the tools or resources to perform their job well.
Providing each remote worker with a work device would be ideal to ensure that no team member faces any hardware issues. A designated work device also helps ensure data security, especially if your team needs to deal with confidential information.
The same principle also applies to any paid software necessary for work. Since you now have remote arrangements, the company should pay any subscription or purchase fees associated with essential work software.
6. Offer Flexibility
Even though working from home has eradicated the commute from each employee’s schedule, it doesn’t mean that life has become easy for everyone. On the contrary, the pandemic might have added new responsibilities, such as child-rearing, caring for children or the elderly, and household chores.
Offering flexible working schedules would help in this regard, so team members could work when they are least distracted. You could also go the semi-flexible route, where you set specific hours when everyone’s schedules overlap. You could then set meetings and check-ins during this period.
7. Celebrate Successes
When things go right, make sure to celebrate and acknowledge good work. It can be challenging to boost morale when everyone is physically detached, so finding and celebrating small joys and victories is a big help.
You could do this by acknowledging the victory in the company message group or taking quick celebratory meetings with lighthearted conversations. The company could even send small gifts to well-performing employees if the budget allows.
Celebrating milestones and successes also encourages your team to do better, as they could experience the rewards of good work.
Make it Work
Working from home is a weighty challenge for employees, especially for managers. Adjusting to this setup might take a bit of time and hard work. However, the proper management strategy will encourage teams to do better. People respond well to an organized and humane approach. Your team will thank you, and so will your company.
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