2020 is slowly becoming the year of the unknown, the disruptive and the unproductive for everyone. But, the one thing that is predictable is everyone needing to work from home under different circumstances. Remote work has benefits and drawbacks: while commuting times are significantly reduced and office maintenance costs are down, creating and maintaining a productive work environment for employees is a new struggle for many.
Ways to Help Work from Home
We’ve previously discussed working from home tips for employees, but there are a number of things employers can do to ensure that your teams have no difficulty being away from the office for an extended period of time.
Maintain Team Communication
From video conference calls, to group chats, to shared documents and folders, managers have a plethora of apps, programs and tools that can keep employees engaged outside of the office.
Chat applications, such as Slack, can be an effective way of staying up to date with the company and allows team members to stay in touch about shared projects. It also maintains accessibility and ensures quick responses to urgent issues. While e-mails are fine when everyone is in the office, an instant message can be the closest thing to asking a question in person.
Provide Essential Office Equipment for Your Team
It’s essential that employers work with their teams to ensure job satisfaction even while working from home for extended time. Job satisfaction does not end with software and technology, but also with physical apparatus. By keeping both the physical and technological tools in mind, employees can feel more at home.
Employers may believe that equipment such as laptops, chargers and screens are all that’s necessary for working from home. However, comfort is a key factor. According to The New York Times, “Your chair is especially important. Ideally, you want one with adjustable height…that also supports the upper and middle back.” Unlike chairs at the office, many chairs at home are not suited for long sitting periods.
While it seems small, this will increase productivity and help employees complete their daily tasks without a hassle. By discussing the matter with your team members, you can ensure that no one is wanting for equipment that could make their job as easy as it would be in the office. It is better to be over-prepared than under!
Optimize to Work from Home
Managers should remember to offer consistent advice to employees and avoid distancing when employees encounter problems or difficulties from remote work. Sabina Nawaz from HBR revealed that managers’ main concerns at the moment are “how to stay connected with each team member, help manage their own and others’ stress, maintain team morale and motivation, run engaged meetings, track and communicate progress, and help their team shed nonessential work.” There will be a lot of trial and error while we all learn how to work remote, however, having an open line of communication between managers and their teams can help ease the tension of complications.
Continue Employee Training and Development
As in-person trainings are difficult to perform when working from home, virtual trainings must be put in place to ensure new hires and current employees continue to receive adequate assistance. Video conferences and screen sharing technology are also effective in promoting career development, so don’t put off training until everyone is face-to-face again.
Employers must ensure that collaboration is encouraged while out of the office. Working remotely for an extended period can lead to employees feeling isolated and without support. However, promoting training with colleagues can make sure teamwork remains a priority.
Discuss Workplace Concerns
Changes in company policies and unforeseen issues are going to happen while teams are out of the office. Encouraging employees to present concerns will not only will foster engagement, but also bring to light wider issues that have not been addressed by management. Some issues that many companies are already addressing are adjusting business hours and scheduling client calls, but it is certain that countless others will come up. Having avenues to discuss concerns as a company will help you stay ahead of the curve.
Encourage Employee Engagement
Encouraging engagement in and out of the office is essential to promoting a strong company culture and enjoyable environment to work in. Whether it happens to be water cooler talks or advice after a client call, social contact with colleagues is a vital part of office life.
While maintaining communication on matters of work is essential, teams are encouraged to continue social interactions to decompress, help alleviate stress levels and build friendship outside of the office. Jennifer Liu from CNBC stated, “Managers should dedicate time during the workday to allow workers to connect, share ideas and provide support over personal matters.” Scheduling enjoyable events, such as virtual happy hour or team lunches where employees can step away from their tasks can help connect and build team dynamic while being remote.
Be creative, think of what’s missing now that all social interaction has moved online. My team has created a shared Spotify playlist to maintaining a team connection. There’s a list of ways to combat monotonous routines on the weekends that all employees are encountering across our offices.
Why is it Important to Manage Remote Employees?
It’s important to manage remote employees to help ease the difficult transition from the office to their homes and reduce tension between managers and teams to avoid disruptions. Remote work strategies that employers can enforce range from providing essential equipment to finding comfort in their work-from-home arrangements.
It’s vital that employers keep in contact with all their employees to foster a sense of company culture and enjoyment, regardless of where everyone is working from. This will help build your employer brand as a company who cares for their employees and help recruit top talent.