4 Creative Ways Managers Can Engage with their Remote Teams
Amid the new coronavirus pandemic, many organizations are opting for mandatory or voluntary remote work for their employees. Considering the current scenario, conducting business on a full-scale remote working environment seems the only feasible option. However, companies are not equipped with all the tools – technology, culture, communication, and guidelines/policies – to support a full-scale remote working environment as it was never needed before. In fact, for most of the employees, the sudden transition of remote work or the idea of working from home is entirely alien. It is difficult for them to come in terms with working from home completely for an entire month or more.
Although, companies are pulling out all the stops to ensure their employees are working smoothly in such times. But it is only possible if all the important tools are working simultaneously to maintain business continuity. Contrary to struggles faced by the employees, below stats show that working remotely has uplifted the productivity of the workforce.
Advantages of Remote Work
The above-mentioned stats are a testament that remote work also comes with benefits. Many of you may end up being more productive as you don’t have to spend hours in meetings, commuting, long lunches, or gossips. A Stanford study suggests that employees working from home are 13% more productive on average. A SOHO report also shows that, on average, remote employees take 2.4 sick days per year as opposed to 2.6 days for office workers on average.
Disadvantages of Remote Work
While everything has its pros and cons, working remotely also brings in a fair share of struggle. Due to the informal work setting, chances are employees may end up procrastinating the task assigned by binge-watching online shows. In the long run, lack of communication may also lead to lower levels of motivation and engagement.
Remote Work Tips to Keep Your Employees Engaged
As an employer, the following remote work tips will help you make sure that remote employees are engaged and inspired. Moreover, it will help you maintain their mental well-being by providing a cohesive and supportive environment.
1. Plan a Weekly Team Call
Employees working in an office environment have the opportunity to have a quick personal discussion with their subordinates or seniors about any difficulties. This may often fast track many solutions for any spur of the moment challenges. Anyone working remotely has to follow a long process even to discuss trivial confusion.
You can overcome this problem by scheduling a bi-weekly or weekly call for the team or the entire department. Remote workers can discuss all the professional challenges and issues in this call. They can give updates about the current and upcoming tasks at hand or provide a brief about their workload.
Consider a scrum call or a daily call if your business is focused on project management. Keep the calls concise, typically about 15 minutes. Plan a call before your team starts working for the day so that the team can give a quick run-through for the day. Additionally, this will help project managers to adjust timelines and task assignment.
2. Use Messaging/Chat Platforms
It is essential to utilize a tool that teammates can use for a quick discussion. For remote teams, tools like Hipchat or Slack is widely used for engaging with employees. Chat tools will help in reducing numerous emails. One of the options that slack gives is to make channels for different departments. For instance, a graphic designer can join a channel that is specifically dedicated to content creation.
The chat console is where your teammate can feel a sense of belonging, where they can be more social regardless of their location. Chat tools can lay the groundwork to communicate your company culture and vision with employees. Set up policies/ guidelines for the tool early on before deployment. The instructions should give the teammates a clear idea of how to use the tool and what type of discussions to engage. The guidelines should also indicate not to use project sensitive details in the public chat area.
3. Broadcast a Company-Wide Newsletter
A company newsletter is one of the best and most creative ways to keep everyone updated. These updates may include a promotion, news, and introduction of a new employee. Many B2B companies are following this practice. It’s especially effective when working with remote employees, regardless of the size of your team.
An internal newsletter is a great way to offer appreciation, which lacks in the remote working culture. Appreciation can be one of the key motivators that might be missing in remote workers’ professional life. You may add ‘Remote employee of the month’ in the newsletter and describe how his/her contribution has helped others. This will bring a spotlight on the employee and will also introduce his or her work to other departments in the company. An internal newsletter will help in fostering more professional relationships and keep remote workers motivated.
4. Frequently Provide Feedback
Frequent feedback on employee performance can help the manager keep them in the loop. A manager may sometime overlook a team member’s long term goals due to being caught up in daily operations. A bi-weekly or weekly call gives managers a chance to maintain a healthy professional relationship with their associates. A personal bond between the manager and a remote worker will make sure that productivity is never compromised. Lack of communication is a serious flaw, which should be mended by efforts from both the employee and the manager.
Remote Work is Here to Stay
Remote working or work from home is going to be more pervasive and is here to stay for the coming years. We now know that the advent of the internet has challenged the term ‘work hours.’ Anybody can connect with anyone around the globe using different tools. These tools will enable a transparent business relationship between an employee and an employer. Employers will increasingly utilize these tools to encourage and engage with remote workers.
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