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Managing remote working can be challenging for many, thoughts about maintaining a fine balance between checking in and checking on popping into manager / supervisor’s head every now and then. When Remote working has become a necessity than a luxury, what are some of the things that will help you manage Remote employees a little better?

  1. Check-in instead of Checking on: Almost all organizations have realized the need to replace in -person meeting with something that helps in information sharing and keeping everyone on the same page. While adopting regular check-in with your remote team, it is important to instill a feeling of trust among your team members by ensuring the check-in doesn’t translate into checking on the employees. While checking-in with your team, you are leaning in and letting the team know that you are available to discuss issues, share information as well as provide a setting for conversations and not just a monologue. Checking in and not checking on can help you create trust among your remotely dispersed team which can also help employees address concerns freely and regularly. Our 2020 APAC Workforce Insights found that more than 52% Permanent Staff surveyed tend to perceive that their employers care when they have enough opportunities to express their concerns. The aim of check-in should be to help the team in overcoming challenges they face rather than checking on how they are accomplishing a task/activity.
  2. Control the urge to Micromanage: Yes, most things in the current situation might seem out of control and as a response to rein in matters, managers might feel the urge to step the pedal on micromanaging the remote workforce. Virtual hovering over remote workers can defeat the purpose of getting work done and in turn lead to exhaustion, burnout which may impact employee/ team morale and productivity. Different employees will have different commitments while remote working and hence activity-based measurement will not be effective while managing them. What will work is if Managers define goals, set revised expectation, be more flexible, trust people with tasks and focus on outcome and overall productivity than everyday activities.
  3. Communication: Communication and engagement is key even during normal circumstances, but it gains even more importance in the New Normal. Setting communication strategies in place to ensure employees do not feel disconnected is critical and makes up for a lot of impromptu conversations that happen in an office work environment.  Identifying tools for communication and keeping channels of Communication open and easily accessible is important for the well being and smooth operation of remote workforce. It is important to keep employees informed of updates on time as well as sharing the right updates with right employees in an easy format which engages them in a conversation. It is equally important to address the need for informal communication to replace water cooler conversations in the office environment. This could be done by allowing a 10-minute informal catch up time before or after a work-related call to really connect with your team who is working remotely.
  4. Clear Goals : In remote working environment, activity based monitoring is not as effective since different employees will have different ways of getting work done through the day- some will log in early while some might work late or even work during lunch break and other breaks.  This calls for defining very clear and precise goals for remote workforce which helps employees with clarity on what they need to do and what outcome is expected from them. Re-defining goals which are clear and measurable while outlining duties and responsibilities leading to a favorable outcome becomes imperative. Hence reassessing and redefining outcome-based goals to adopt to the New Normal, is the need of the hour.
  5. Collaborate efficiently: Remote working comes with its share of challenges in collaborating effectively. One of the factors that contribute to productivity and team morale is successful collaboration. Employers need to focus on employee engagement solutions that enable and empower more successful collaborations between teams. Setting up collaborative strategies will keep things from snowballing into something with very adverse effects and ensure productivity stays high. The need of the hour is to research and adopt new collaborative tools – if you haven’t already, right from instant messaging tools, project management tools, video conferencing tools, time-tracking tools, etc. The idea is to make collaboration easy and accessible so that employees can partake in meaningful collaboration despite the distance. It is critical to encourage employees to stay engaged and join in conversations even if they are not physically present.
  6. Culture of Knowledge Sharing: Knowledge sharing among employees have always been beneficial to the company and employee development. When teams are working remotely, it is important to maintain the knowledge sharing culture and have a structured format in place including a rooster on tagging employees for their knowledge sharing session. This is critical since employees have less opportunities for in-person sharing or social learning. Effective knowledge sharing can evoke team participation and build a culture of trust. Arming employees with useful information and sharing best practices that will help them do things better or differently is imperative in the New Normal.

New Normal beckons new ways of evolution at workplace. Adapting to the new ways sooner will help forge strong team connect leading to higher employee morale and maintain productivity- if not increase it!

This article was originally published on Kelly Services blog

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