Working Remotely | Tiaan Dwyer
Quick Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce During COVID-19
Tiaan Dwyer | HR Specialist
December 14 2020
Many small and large businesses around the world are asking their employees to work remotely to help curb the spread of COVID 19 and preserve the health and safety of their workforce. This change creates a new set of challenges for managers to support and stay connected with their newly remote workforce, especially for the many businesses that will be adopting it for the first time.
Here are some crucial tips to ensure that you and your team make the best out of the work from home situation:
Ensure employees have the technology available and setup in order to get their job done successfully and without delay, which may be more than just a mobile phone and laptop. For example, if you expect employees to attend virtual meetings, do they have a good microphone and wifi connection? Lastly, do they know how to set their workstation up correctly and manage all the tools needed to get their work done?
Keep in mind that work from home employees need the same access to resources available and used by onsite employees, which may include (but are not limited to):
- Policy and procedure manuals
- Presentation templates and supplies
- Software programs
- Mail supplies and stationery
- Equipment such as a laptop, phone and airtime, and wifi.
Prepare employees for expectations regarding remote work
Provide guidelines, for example:
- Log on at least 10 minutes ahead of set schedule to resolve tech issues and start on time, without interruptions.
- Mute the microphone when you are not talking.
- If you have to step away during the call, notify the group in the chat window.
Set Expectations Early On
Providing guidelines, setting boundaries, and communicating it clearly is the basics amongst the most important steps to take when setting out your remote employee strategy. The communicated expectations should contain clauses reminding employees of the need to meet target and performance expectations regardless of where work is done, as well as clauses establishing leave schedules and general policies. Other things to note are:
When will you be online and available? When should your team be online? Does your team have set working hours?
How will your team receive tasks and how do you determine the urgent tasks that take priority?
What are the rules or standard procedures for team interactions (i.e. video calls via Skype, Slack, etc.)? What will be your form of communication throughout the day and how often will that communication take place?
How will you provide feedback and at what intervals?
Address Security and Confidentiality
Technical security and company confidentiality can be easily forgotten or compromised when working from home. A standard employment contract should detail how remote employees should take active measures to protect their workplace security and the integrity of confidential information. It’s also up to you as their employer to install any security software on their laptops or desktop machines to prevent theft or privacy hacks.
Set up a formal and semi-formal communication plan
Everyone reacts to remote work differently, and not all homes are ideal workspaces for effective communication to take place. This can (and likely will) feel difficult at first for employees, especially for those with small houses with many people living inside. By communicating to your team that this is a temporary situation and trying to understand that their surroundings might not be as quiet as what you expect, can help ease their nerves and discomfort.
Also, establish a clear plan for your team’s communication with key stakeholders. Make a list of who needs to be updated and what those communications should be like.
Seek feedback and ideas
Ask your remote team about their work needs and concerns, feedback to help you better support them, and ideas for communicating better, and strategies to be more productive. Keep in mind that you are all in it together, and the inclusive discussion and collaboration can lead to some effective solutions for your team.
Build trust by communicating with transparency
Be sincere and upfront about expectations for productivity while your team is working remotely.
- Be sure that employees know what your goals are, too.
- Touch base on whether expectations are realistic and how long it’s going to take to achieve them.
- Share your intentions of being available to support their work.
Be flexible and understanding of work-life harmony
Help your remote team by guiding them on strategies and ideas for the best time for work, family, and free time. Also be understanding and flexible about when work gets done and should be submitted by. Being open to your staff’s different needs not only creates an environment for more productivity, but also for trust, which can help increase employee engagement and work satisfaction.
Continue Celebrating Employee Milestones
Even though we are working in a pandemic, it’s important to still celebrate employee achievements, milestones, and even personal successes or events. The importance of building team spirit should not be underestimated.
Remember to announce important milestones such as:
- Work Anniversaries
- Becoming a parent
- Work accomplishment
- Charity work
- Becoming an uncle or aunt
- Career goals
You can all get together on a video call, host a virtual lunch, or even set up a team game night (with social distancing in place) to celebrate.
How will COVID-19 change the future of work?
It’s difficult to try and predict the long-term implications of the current shift to remote work, but a few outcomes are possible. The first is that employees and business owners will open their eyes to the value that can be achieved when each individual has the freedom to work from the comfort of their own home, or even just from a coffee shop in some cases. It’s also highly likely that we will have a greater understanding of how physical space influences the way we all feel and work each day. Lastly, most of us will emerge from this period craving the in-person interaction that has been missed during the period of isolation.
If there is something I want you to know about me right away, it’s that I have a passion for supporting business owners. I believe in the future of South Africa and that there are so many opportunities out there to be successful and to make a change to our economy.
I want to be part of that change by providing businesses with core HR and Labour Solutions that will not only result in legislative compliance but actually positively impact their bottom line.
Over the years I have gained practical HR experience working in various sectors such as mining, construction, financial services, and corporate legal. As a business owner myself, I can relate well to businesses and what their needs are.