The world of remote work has exploded and appears here to stay as many companies are jumping on the bandwagon by embracing the idea of cutting costs by allowing their teams to work from the comfort of their homes. Having a remote team has many benefits, including enhanced productivity and lower stress among the employees. Since your team already works from home, there’s also a reduced chance of call-outs.
However, to get these perks, your management team must know how to properly communicate with, protect, and encourage a remote workforce. Start with these tips.
1. Prevent Feelings Of Isolation
The top priority when managing a remote team must be to ensure that you are properly focusing on each member’s well-being. While, in general, remote work has shown to be a success, it’s not perfect. There are some downsides and health risks to working from home. One of them is the isolation that comes with working alone. Yes, an employee may have family coming and going. Still, it is often not the same as when many employees used to work in an office surrounded by people and can talk to our coworkers face-to-face.
It’s important to prevent your team from feeling isolated because their fear and negative feelings can manifest in their work. Plus, there can be physical symptoms of isolation, like heart disease and eventual dementia. That’s why a manager must make it a point to reach out and host video meetings via a platform like Zoom, where you and the team can meet face-to-face so they can get that social interaction that they crave. When your team is mentally sound, they’ll naturally do better work.
2. Effectively Communicate
Communication is important to prevent isolation, but it’s also necessary to ensure everyone on your team understands their responsibilities and can be held accountable. Unfortunately, inadequate communication can single-handedly bring a remote team down, so managers need to make it a priority. While you don’t want to micromanage, you should reach out at least once daily to give your employees their tasks and check their progress. You can reach out via email, chat, or phone call. Although most employees want to do their best work, some may start to slack if they don’t think the boss is paying attention, so don’t let it get to that point. It’s also critical that employees are provided with annual reviews, so they can be commended for what they did right and get direction for any areas of improvement.
3. Allow Work/Life Balance
Another potential downside of working as a remote employee is the frequent lack of a work-life balance. This can be the doing of the employee or the employer. As an employee, it’s easier to work longer hours and chain ourselves to our desks because we’re already at home and there’s no rush to leave. The lights aren’t turned off at a certain time and we aren’t facing a long commute at the end of the day, like in the office. When all we have to do is walk into the next room, there’s a good chance we’ll work longer than we should.
Management can also be the culprit for similar reasons. A manager may believe that since an employee is at home, they can require them to work longer. However, a lack of a work-life balance can disrupt our physical and mental health. When we don’t leave our desks, we don’t get exercise. When all we do is work, it’s more likely that we’ll eventually experience burnout.
Provide a work-life balance to your team by not requiring them to work overtime and by setting rules for when they must lock out and log off daily. You can also provide time off and mental health days, so employees can take a break when stressed. By getting the proper rest, your teams can return to work feeling refreshed and ready to work.
4. Help Them Stay Secure
Your employees could also falter in their responsibilities if they feel like they don’t have the support of their employer when it comes to online security. When working in an office, employees have the comfort of an IT team watching over them. There’s also the knowledge that they can reach out and get assistance if they get a virus or receive a suspicious email. But it’s different when we work at home. It can be easier to be less vigilant to avoid opening phishing emails when we don’t have someone there to keep us honest.
That’s why educating your remote team on the basics of cybersecurity is so important. Teach your team how to watch for malicious emails, educate them on creating smart passwords, and tell them the fastest and most effective way to report scams when they see them. If you allow your employees to work from anywhere, even in public places, then require that they only sign on to secure Wi-Fi networks or don’t connect at all. Giving your team the tools to stay safe will make them more confident in their work.
These are the first steps businesses must take to ensure the happiness and success of their remote teams. People who work from home need more support, and when they are given what they need, they’ll show their appreciation with every task they complete.
By Indiana Lee, BOSS contributor