The coronavirus pandemic forced many companies all over the world to mandate 100% of their staff to work from home. Now that countries are easing restrictions, it will be difficult for businesses to go back to the way things were.
In an April 2020 online survey conducted by the Conference Board, 77% of the respondents expect that more employees will choose to work from home at least thrice a week post-pandemic. This may necessitate remote work or telecommuting to become a standard perk for regular employees.
Luckily, New Jersey was already a great place for remote working even prior to the pandemic. Many local and national companies already offered telecommuting job opportunities to residents, state laws protected remote workers, and co-working spaces provided an alternative to working from home. It’ll be easy for the Garden State to accommodate more telecommuters in the future.
Why is it important to properly manage remote workers?
Remote workers are not like a close friend who moves away and you never talk to again. Soon, you realize you've lost touch, but when either of you reaches out, you find that it's quite easy to reconnect.
Remote workers are different; they're needier. Ignore them, and within a few days, they’ll feel neglected and detached. Then watch as their productivity goes down.
Remote workers are different; they're needier. Ignore them, and within a few days, they’ll feel neglected and detached.
So before you offer remote working to your employees, you need to know how best to manage them.
Two main elements for managing remote workers
To keep your remote workers happy, you need to make sure there are ways to connect and to collaborate with them.
- Connection – There are benefits to having personal connections in the office. A Gallup survey revealed that employees feel more engaged if they have a best friend at work. But while it’s easy to make friends with someone you can see everyday in the office, it’s difficult when you’re physically apart. Remote workers tend to fear being left out or being ganged up on more often than on-site workers.
- Collaboration – Aside from having a personal connection, your remote employees need to have a professional connection with their co-workers. That’s where team collaboration comes in. Again, it’s easier on-site because collaboration can happen even in informal settings. But with remote workers, you need to reach out to them. Otherwise, they will feel undervalued, and you may miss out on their expertise and contributions.
Best practices for managing remote workers
The following strategies and tools can help you keep your remote workers engaged and happy.
- Have regular check-ins with the team – This gives everyone the opportunity to sync up with the rest of the team. For a manager, it’s best to hold regular one-on-one meetings and team-wide standups.
- Be available online – This mimics the immediacy of being in a shared office space — you can ask for feedback right away. However, a necessary balance is needed: employees should also be allowed to go undisturbed while they go into deep work. The key is to establish protocols at the start. Employees should inform their team before going into deep work.
- Maximize the use of video and audio calls – Email and chat messages can only communicate so much. It’s faster and easier to expound or question a point when you’re talking to them directly on the phone, and video conferencing allows nonverbal communication to be part of your conversation.
- Make personal connections – Having one-on-one conversations is a good start. Use humor when interacting with colleagues. Listen actively. Be interested in your people.
- Use the appropriate tools – Make sure you have the following:
- Video conferencing app (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.)
- Chat and collaboration tool (Slack, Microsoft Teams, Flock, etc.)
- Screen sharing app
- Project management system
- HR software with employee self-service
- Recognition and reward system
- Make time for face-to-face interaction – Post-pandemic, you may end up with more team members doing remote work either exclusively or on certain days of the week. Regardless, always schedule opportunities for everyone to physically meet on a regular basis. Set up a monthly team lunch, or organize an end-of-the-month happy hour. This allows everyone to bond and strengthen relationships.
Remote work may be one of the lasting legacies of this global pandemic. As more organizations allow telecommuting for their employees, there’s also the need to adjust their systems, processes, and equipment to accommodate more remote workers.
Make sure your IT network is ready for the post-pandemic new normal by partnering with a trusted managed IT services provider like Online Computers. We’ll help you keep your system safe and running in tip-top shape, even if you have numerous remote workers logging into your system. If your business is in or around the Hanover, Morristown, and Madison areas, contact us today.
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