For the first time in their careers, a lot of people are working from home. There was never a need for it in the past, but now they are doing their job in their pajamas, at home. It’s a big adjustment for career office dwellers who still wear a dress or jacket and tie to the office every day. Fortunately, there are things you can do as a manager to help them along. Preparing employees to work remotely just means pushing them in the right direction and giving guidance the same way that you would in the office. The only difference is you aren’t doing it in person.
If this new situation is by design and permanent, or a reaction to the pandemic, employees need to know they are trusted. They must be trusted to do their work and in their own time. Don’t demand they log on by 7:00 a.m. every day while they are working from home. Trust them enough to get up and get their day started in their own time. If deadlines are met and meetings are attended, relax a little and trust them.
Make sure that the employees have everything they need to do their job. Initially they won’t need much more than a laptop to get the job done. Over time though they will need a proper workstation with furniture, phone hook-ups, and maybe a faster internet connection. Whatever they need, within reason of course, give it to them so they can stay productive while working remotely.
Make it a point to check in with your remote team daily. Have a morning meeting to run down any new projects or problems that popped up. Use that time to let the team voice any concerns and offer solutions. Later in the day, check in with each team member one-on-one so they can get some time with you. They might be more willing to communicate issues they are having when there’s not a large audience.
Make sure that your expectations as well as the company’s are laid out in clear language. Don’t sugarcoat anything, and make sure that you are understood. Take any questions and answer them before moving forward. Miscommunications and misunderstandings go hand-in-hand, so don’t let it happen. Start out on equal footing so everyone knows what the standards and expectations are.
Employees who work remotely don’t feel like part of a team. That’s to be expected, so make sure you keep them engaged with the team. Set up a weekly team meeting just to go over any changes or issues. Toward the end of the week, have an informal meeting or fun activity to bring everyone together and relax as they head into the weekend. A small team-building activity can have a big effect on morale and motivation.