There are a variety of ways that managers can help ease the transition into remote work for people who haven’t experienced it before, and these are relatively quick and easy to implement. Managing remote employees well can help increase productivity and produce better quality results from everyone involved.
One of the most effective ways to establish regular contact with your remote employees is by establishing a daily call. This can be done in the form of one-on-one or group calls, depending on the nature of your employees’ work. The important thing about this type of call is that it is predictable and provides a forum where employees can ask questions and concerns.
Provide Options for Communication
Besides email, various communication technologies can be used to establish regular contact with remote workers. One of these is video conferencing, which provides participants with a variety of visual cues that they would get from face-to-face interactions. This type of technology can help reduce the isolation among teams and increase employees’ mutual knowledge about each other.
Video is ideal for sensitive or complex conversations as it feels more personal than audio-only or written communication. Sometimes, collaboration is more important when visual detail is minimal. Mobile-enabled apps like those from Microsoft Teams and Slack can facilitate less formal and time-sensitive conversations.
Have Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations helps managers establish a more efficient and satisfying remote work environment. This can be done by having various expectations related to the frequency and timing of communication.
For instance, while videoconferencing is ideal for regular check-in meetings, IM can be used for emergencies. To ensure that your employees get the most out of their remote work environment, you should also provide them with the best possible time and place to reach you. You can also let them know if you are available late in the day for video or ad hoc conversations, but they should send a text message if there is an emergency.
Provide Ways to Socialize
One of the most important steps a manager can take is to establish various ways for their remote employees to interact socially. This can be done by having informal discussions about non-work topics. This is especially true for those who have recently transitioned out of the office.
One of the easiest ways to start social interaction is by leaving some time for non-work items during team calls. For instance, you can arrange a virtual pizza party, which allows each member to receive pizza delivered to their door during a video conference. Another option is to host virtual office parties, which allow employees to enjoy virtual office packages while simultaneously receiving their pizza.
According to experienced managers, these types of events can help reduce the feelings of isolation among remote workers. They also noted that these types of activities could promote a sense of belonging.
Be Encouraging and Supportive
When an employee transitions to a remote work environment, it is important that the manager provides emotional support and encouragement. They should also acknowledge the employee’s concerns and stress levels. If the new employee is struggling, the manager should ask how they are doing.
Even a general question about the employee’s remote work situation can provide valuable information. To ensure that the answer is understood, the manager should carefully listen to the question and briefly restate the response.
According to studies about emotional contagion and emotional intelligence, employees rely on their managers for cues about how they should react to situations involving sudden changes. If the manager talks about helplessness and stress, this can have a detrimental effect on the employees.
Leaders who are able to take a two-pronged approach can provide their employees with a sense of comfort and confidence. They can also help them manage their stress levels by acknowledging the challenges they may be experiencing. For instance, they can use phrases such as “we’ve got this,” “this is tough,” or “let’s look for ways to use our strengths.” This type of support can help employees focus on their goals and take on the challenge with a renewed sense of purpose.