Earlier this year, many people thought that widespread remote work just wasn’t realistic. Then, overnight, many workers had to switch to working fully remotely. This is challenging in many ways, especially for managers, who suddenly had to learn new strategies to maximize success while managing remotely. Here are a few of the top challenges of managing remotely, and some tips for how to address them.
Tracking team productivity
Managers are used to having direct, in-person contact with their team members. They are used to being able to walk around the office and glimpse at what everyone is working on. In an office setting, it’s pretty obvious to see who is slacking off. While managing remotely, it is much harder for a manager to feel confident that their team members are being productive. The first way to deal with this is to establish a level of trust amongst the team. It may feel uncomfortable at first, but managers need to get used to the idea of not being able to monitor employees at all times. That being said, having clear expectations of what work a team member needs to complete, and by when, is extremely helpful. If the work is not getting done, then it is time for a discussion.
Lack of company culture
It can be very hard to maintain a company culture while working remotely, and company culture plays such a large role in employee engagement and morale. But just because employees aren’t occupying the same physical space does not mean that they can’t engage in fun and creative ways. Some ideas for upholding company culture while managing remotely include holding virtual happy hours, having a daily watercooler question for team members to answer to get to know one another, having themed all-hand meetings, and pairing employees who don’t work together a lot with one another for virtual coffees to get to know each other.
Maintaining effective communication
It is not good to assume that communication methods will seamlessly transfer from in-person work to remote work. Managing remotely means understanding the ways of communicating that will enable your team to remain connected and successful. Managers should establish a remote work communication policy, which can include guidelines on what tools to use to communicate, setting times where no meetings can be held, scheduling regular one-on-ones with team members, and more. In addition, managers should make an effort to ensure that employees feel comfortable voicing their questions, concerns, and comments.
Onboarding new team members
Onboarding new team members is a challenge in and of itself. But onboarding people when they aren’t able to be in a physical space and meet their new teammates face-to-face can be especially difficult. Managers need to go above and beyond to onboard remote employees in order for them to feel connected and engaged with their team and the company as a whole. Just as you would have a series of steps a new employee goes through in the onboarding process, you should have a series of onboarding steps adapted to work in a remote environment. Don’t let onboarding fall to the wayside.
When employees are working remotely, the lines between home and work are especially blurred. This can make it especially difficult for employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance. In order to prevent burnout, managers should encourage employees to create a clear distinction between work time and home time. This could mean having a rule that nobody sends messages after 6 pm, for example. It could also mean that managers proactively seek out employees to check in with them and ask them how they are doing mentally, how they feel about their work-life balance, and how that balance can be improved.
To learn more about how you give managers all the tools they need to be successful in managing remotely, schedule time to speak with a Verb learning expert today.