As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise globally, businesses everywhere have struggled to find ways of operating, while also abiding by the new social distancing rules.
For many companies, this means implementing work-from-home policies. While the concept of remote working is far from new—an estimated 4.3 million employees worldwide (3.2% of the workforce) were working from home in some form or another prior to the coronavirus pandemic—it does require a little ingenuity to make sure remote employees feel connected and are engaged.
With so many of your employees now working from home, how do you know if remote employees are actually working? The good news is that studies show that most remote workers find working from home much less stressful and end up putting in more hours as a result.
If your business has recently implemented work-from-home policies, keep reading for some helpful tips for managing remote employees and how you can motivate your remote employees.
Set Clear Expectations
If this is the first time your employees are working from home, there is likely going to be an adjustment period at the beginning as they adapt to their new at-home work environment.
From the onset, make sure to clearly state what you expect from your employees. When managing remote employees, it’s important to establish a routine. What hours do you expect your staff to work? Are they required to be available during the standard 9-5 workday or can they customize their work schedule? How do you want them to communicate with you and how often do you expect communication (e.g. a daily status report or weekly check-in)?
It’s also important to clearly outline your availability as an employer should your staff need to get in touch with you during the work week.
When both employers and employees are on the same page and know exactly what is expected of each party, it can help improve efficiency when working remotely and help to motivate remote employees.
Effective communication is perhaps one of the most important factors when operating a successful business, and even more so when managing remote employees.
Keep in mind that you’ll no longer have the luxury of having face-to-face interactions or chit-chats in the lunchroom. Instead, most of your communication will likely be through email or the occasional video conference. And sometimes the context of a conversation can be misconstrued when you rely solely on written communication.
This is why it’s important to use clear and concise language in all written communication and to engage in frequent communication with your team. According to a recent study, more than 25% of remote workers consider communication the most challenging aspect of working from home.
So, how can you make remote employees feel connected? Make sure you have an internal communication system in place, whether it’s through a chat platform or a video conferencing app like Zoom.
Another thing to keep in mind is your employees’ preferred communication methods. Do they prefer communicating though chat or does a weekly conference call work better for them? Customizing your strategy to your individual employees’ preferences can help to make remote employees feel included and to engage remote employees.
Use the Right Tools and Technology
This brings us to our next point. In order to have effective communication between team members and to ensure business operations aren’t interrupted, you need to have the right tools and software at your disposal.
When managing remote employees, you need to provide them with cloud-based tools, such as Microsoft Teams, Facebook Workplace, Zoom, or Google Drive to improve productivity and team building.
These tools allow employees to store and sync files no matter where they are working, and they also encourage brainstorming so that remote employees feel connected. Plus, most of your employees are already familiar with these technologies. If they aren’t, there is an abundance of resources online to help you and your employees learn the ins and outs of these tools.
Also, ensure your remote employees have access to IT support and the necessary hardware to conduct video conferencing (e.g. web cam, speakers, and/or a laptop). By investing in ways to improve workflow and communication amongst your remote employees, you can help remove key challenges your team might be facing at home.
Encourage Interaction or Video Discussions
One of the best ways to know if remote employees are working and make remote employees feel connected is to encourage interaction and promote frequent video discussions.
More than half of communication is non-verbal (e.g. body language, facial expressions, etc.), which means that without face-to-face interaction, it’s hard to gauge a situation and understand a person’s mood, tone, and overall disposition.
So, how can you engage remote employees? Minimize the number of emails and phone calls your team makes and focus more on building social interaction. Try scheduling regular Zoom chats to discuss anything from work-related tasks to personal stuff. You’ll be surprised how much video discussions and catch-up sessions can reduce feelings of social isolation and distance within your organization.
Provide Feedback Often
As mentioned, working from home is likely a new experience for many employees and the lack of face-to-face communication can take a toll on your staff’s confidence. Once you provide your team with the communication tools and technology they need to thrive, don’t forget to also provide feedback to your team.
Providing feedback is an important aspect of managing and motivating remote employees. Without meaningful feedback from management, employees might find it difficult to move forward and improve their performance.
How else can you make remote employees feel connected? You could also provide the opportunity to give feedback to each other and track the progress of their individual goals, whether it is daily, weekly, or bi-weekly.
Hire Resolve Recruit to Find the Right Remote Employees
Resolve Recruit Inc. is one of Canada’s leading job staffing agencies. Based out of Mississauga, Ontario, we have over 20 years of experience matching top-quality candidates to their dream jobs. We’ve also helped numerous small- and medium-sized businesses expand their portfolios and employee databases, and now we are helping businesses manage their remote employees.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way businesses operate, and we are here to help you adjust to this new normal. To learn more about our recruitment services and for tips on how to motivate remote employees, please feel free to contact us today!