As the COVID-19 crisis continues, more and more business owners are forced to send team members home, but this doesn’t have to mean the end of productivity
Over the past few years, working from home has grown in popularity. Which is handy, because over the past few weeks, it has become a government ordered requirement. As coronavirus continues to sweep across the globe, thousands more of us are having to isolate ourselves and work from the relative safety of our own homes. This poses unique challenges for everyone, but particularly for employers.
If you’ve never managed a remote team before, you’re probably asking yourself: ‘How can I make sure all the work gets done?’ Luckily, we’re here to help. Our simple, effective tips will help you and your team keep things afloat in these troubling times.
Communication, communication, communication
This is the secret to good business even if you’re working from an office, but it becomes especially important if your team is spread miles apart. You need to make sure that your entire team is on the same page in terms of knowing what work to prioritise.
You should also make yourself constantly available via phone and/or email, in case an employee needs to update you on any difficulties they are having, such as health concerns or childcare difficulties. As a manager, you have a duty of care to your team. Constant communication will help to keep employees motivated while they’re self-isolating.
Do a daily check-in
Phone calls and emails are all very well, but they can’t compare to face to face conversations. Use tools such as Facetime, Skype, or Google’s Team Hangout to set a daily agenda, provide valuable feedback, and give out the resources that your team needs, so that no one is left at a loose end.
Manage your expectations
Any expectations you place upon your team in this difficult period must be realistic. Provide them with clear tasks, and give them the reasoning behind them, so that they will understand exactly how you are going to be measuring success. A clearly defined scope and deadline for each task or project will help to give everyone greater focus, and therefore make them less likely to feel directionless and waste time.
According to sci-fi writer Arthur C. Clarke, any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, and modern technology can surely help you recreate all the magic and wonder of a day at the office. Emails and text messages are good short-term tools, but programs like Microsoft Teams are a much better way to help your team collaborate and communicate on a project. Many are free to download, but even those that cost a few pounds are worth it in terms of increased productivity.
Resource your team
Some people are less techy than others, and it is not reasonable to assume that every member of your team has the tools they require to effectively tackle their workload. As a manager you should make sure that your remote workers have the laptops, mobile devices, software and high speed internet connection they will need to do their job. It may be that you will need to reassign different tasks to different team members depending on the technology they have access to.
In the coming months of sickness and worry, you might have to reassess what productivity means to you. The whole world is stressed and confused, including your team. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t get things done, but it does mean that you should not expect their usual output. No more eight-hour days, and no more regular work hours across the whole workforce. Give your team the freedom and flexibility to work around their suddenly chaotic home lives. They will no doubt repay your trust and understanding in the long term.