How To Stay Connected Whilst Working Remotely
Even though the pandemic appears to be coming to an end, it seems that remote working is here to stay. And, whilst it can be very effective when managed properly, we can't deny that it comes with its challenges! Here are People Vision HR’s top tips on how to ensure effective communication, maintain motivation, and monitor employee wellbeing.
One of the main difficulties when managing a remote team is maintaining motivation. When working from home, employees often feel more relaxed and casual, which can lead to increased distraction and lower productivity. Additionally, with nobody to check up on what they are doing, employees may be tempted to engage in non-work activities during their working hours. Therefore, managers must try to maintain vigilance and encouragement electronically.
Feedback – Without anyone popping over to their desk to check up on them, employees can go days on end without any feedback on what they’re doing – which risks tasks being completed incorrectly. Therefore, it’s important to regularly ask to see a copy of what employees are working on and give feedback. This can be done via message for short tasks, but also via video calls for more extended feedback. This way, eployees can feel proud of their successes and improve from their mistakes.
Adequate technology training – This new working format comes with new challenges; notably in terms of technology. Most companies will chose to employ a new computer program to help the team to communicate with each other, such as Google Workplace or Microsoft Teams. However, not all employees may be so computer literate, and getting to know the ins and outs of a new, complex tool can be overwhelming. Therefore, it is important that businesses make the necessary training and resources readily available.
Set goals – without having teams together physically in a room with their manager, it can be easy to forget about setting clear goals and targets. However, if employees are to have any sort of direction with long term products, this is absolutely essential. Managers should set daily, weekly, and monthly goals for employees. This can be facilitated by various tools that come with remote working, which allow managers to create detailed goals and tasks for individuals and groups of employees, and tick them off once they are completed.
A successful hybrid working system simply isn’t possible without communication. Poor communication is the root cause of so many issues that can undermine an otherwise effective system: knowledge gaps, poor information flow, inefficient team working and exclusion of team members. It’s important for communication within remote teams to be focused and recognised as the responsibility of all team members.
Regular social opportunities for team-building – greeting each other and having a quick catch up over a cuppa is an absolute given in any office – so why neglect it when working remote? Take the time, either at the beginning of the day or at the end, to catch up with each other about the small things in life. Think of fun activities that team members can do together as a break from their work. Remembering that we are humans with our own lives, and not just robots made to work, will improve the relationship between employees, therefore also encouraging communication related to work when necessary.
Cameras on – when face-to-face interaction is not possible, a video call is the next best option. Many employees will be tempted to leave their cameras off – perhaps because they have not dressed themselves as smart as they would in an office, or they simply don’t want to have to give their full attention. However, turning your cameras on is the best way to re-create face-to-face interactions, which improves engagement, motivation and overall connection among teams.
Internal messaging programmes – since we can no longer pop over to our colleagues’ desk for a question, it’s necessary to communicate electronically. And, whilst emails are still great for formal communication, people don’t want to be receiving hundreds of emails each day for simple interactions. Therefore, it’s worth setting up an internal messaging program – such as Google Workplace, Microsoft Teams, or Slack. These tools not only allow easy and instant communication among employees, but also allow them to electronically schedule meetings, set tasks, share files, and other essential everyday activities.
Remote working can also pose challenges to personal wellbeing, especially concerning balancing between work and home life. Additionally, employees can feel trapped in one place, and lonely without any human interaction. Therefore, having the right support when remote working is essential.
Give managers mental health training – It’s important for managers to be aware of potential symptoms of poor wellbeing or mental health, as these may be less obvious whilst employees are working remotely. They must also know how to deal with these problems in a sensitive manner. It is also important for businesses to provide employees with information and resources for mental health, in case it is not possible to detect the signs, so that employees can self-help.
Regular check-ups – without meeting face-to-face, it’s easy to forget to simply ask someone how everything is going. However, for someone who is struggling with an aspect of either their work or home life, feeling like there is somebody to listen is immensely important. Therefore, it’s essential that managers take time each week to ask how their employees are getting on, ideally via video call, so that the employee has human connection and feels fully comfortable to open up.
Sickness policy – Covid not only has greatly increased the number of employees that are working remotely – it’s also greatly increased the number of employees that are off sick. Therefore, it’s important to have a backup plan if many employees are sick at the same time in order to ensure that the workflow can be sustained. Furthermore, it’s important to consider how to deal with someone who has been impacted in the long-term by long covid.
Staying connected whilst working remotely will always be a challenge. However, if the right steps are taken to effectively communicate, maintain motivation, and ensure employee wellbeing, then organisations and continue to flourish, even from the comfort of their own home. And the best way to be fully equipped, is to invest in the relevant training.
Whatever your training needs, People Vision HR is here to lend an extra pair of hands. If you have any queries on how to make the most of your Learning and Development opportunities in 2022, or would like to enquire about any of our services, do give us a call on 07930 394877 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.