Posted on June 9, 2020 at 4:30 AM
When the pandemic hit, many businesses opted to have their employees work from home. Now, even as some areas reopen, they’re finding that they need to continue remote work arrangements. Cultivating a virtual workplace can be challenging, but it’s essential to your business’s efficient operation during COVID-19. Here are some strategies and tips for managing remote workers, whether on a permanent or temporary basis.
Keep In Touch and Show You Care
Many managers worry that they will not be able to effectively supervise off-site employees and that remote workers will slack off. In fact, remote workers not only tend to be more productive, but they also tend to overwork. Moreover, remote workers often feel unheard by their supervisors or that management is out-of-touch with their needs.
That means that virtual workplace managers must make efforts to build a rapport with their team members and help them access the resources they need. Daily check-ins and team-building activities can and should be done virtually — not just through email — and managers should also survey their employees to determine what they need.
Set Up Communication Systems
People also tend to experience more communication issues with coworkers when they’re working remotely. Despite a wide variety of cloud-based tools that can help team members collaborate, many people find it challenging to get on the same page — especially if not everyone is fully using those systems.
To avoid this problem, take the time to train your team members on how to use your chosen project management system, teleconferencing app, or both. Use automation software to sync up information on different platforms and in different formats. This will help avoid missed messages or project discrepancies. Once these systems are set in place, establish guidelines for their use to help minimize friction.
Offer a Social Space
One downside to the virtual workplace is that there is no break room, no coffee bar, no lunch gatherings, no way to connect socially with your coworkers. As a manager, you should be concerned about this. Isolated workers are unhappy, unproductive workers, while team members who feel connected to their coworkers and the company culture are the opposite.
To boost your virtual workplace culture and encourage socialization, offer digital happy hours, games, retreats, lunch meetings, or other virtual opportunities for connection. Make these a regular part of the work week so that your team will feel less isolated from each other. You might find that people are more comfortable and connected when they’re asked to show up virtually, and some great ideas might shake loose.
Managing remote workers during the pandemic or in general requires a skillful balance of resource allocation, emotional and material support, and careful project management. When your team members feel connected, they’re more likely to be productive. Also, it’s important to everyone’s well-being, especially during these troubled times. Virtual workplaces are here to stay, so make the effort now to get yours into shape.