With the coronavirus pandemic rapidly spreading across the globe, employers are strongly advised to have their employers work from home instead of coming into the office. Practicing social distancing, as recommended by the CDC, will help prevent the spread of the highly contagious COVID-19 virus from person-to-person contact.
However, although working from home is seen as beneficial to millions of workers across the US, trying to manage a remote team unexpectedly can be a real challenge for any employer. To help your new remote employees make the transition from working in the office to their own homes, here are a few tips for maintaining successful virtual communication:
Avoid the Temptation of Micromanagement
When you first begin managing remote workers, it can be tempting to call or email them to make sure they’re staying on top of everything and being efficient. You might want to make them fill out an activity log or time tracker, commit to working during specific hours, or try out several various tools to “check in” with your employees everyday. While it may seem like the rational thing to do, becoming a micromanager in this regard can actually do more harm than good.
The main appeal of working from home is flexibility. People want to be in control of their own schedules, and they’re confident of their ability to be proactive and responsible. As long as they fully understand which specific tasks they must have completed at a certain time, you don’t need to be concerned about what they’re doing with every minute of their workday.
Host Virtual Meetings
In an article for Forbes, consulting expert and author George Bradt writes, “Live meetings are best for building relationships, emotional connections, and commitment to decisions as people breathe the same air and communicate with words, tone and body language.” But, Bradt continues, virtual meetings are the next best thing when meeting in-person is not an option.
Having regularly-scheduled meetings, such as a weekly Skype video conference on Monday mornings, can help foster a sense of community in the virtual workplace. Work with your remote employees to decide on a set time for weekly meetings to ensure that everyone can attend.
Encourage 1:1 Interactions
Meredith Sain, the manager of a company with 5 locations across the US, began to prioritize communicating with her remote staff in the beginning of 2019. Sain writes, “As a manager, I meet 1:1 weekly with each of my team members and encourage my team to meet with each other as well. Although not everyone has the opportunity to connect regularly, when employees meet 1:1, they’re able to form personal relationships and find areas to work cross-functionally.”
Communication is key for remote workers, and retaining friendships in general is essential in a time of uncertainty and worry. Taking a few minutes to genuinely ask people how they’re doing can ease tensions and help your employees recognize that they’re valued within your company. Encourage other remote staff to engage with each other as well to improve personal relations and build a stronger sense of community among each other.