How To Manage Remote Workers
How To Manage Remote Workers
By Mark Wager
In these uncertain times organisations have had to change how they work in order to continue and one of the most common changes is the ability to allow people to work from home. This is a big change for a lot of people and especially for Managers who are used to direct supervision and having their team around them. In these changing times Managers have to change as well and start leading their teams in different ways. In this week’s article, I want to share with you some practical tips on how to manage remote workers.
Understanding the challenges
The first step is for the Manager to have a conversation with the worker about how they are going to overcome the most common challenges that people face when working from home. Some people find working from home a fantastic idea and makes life far easier than working from the office with less travel time and less interruptions but for some others working from home is a series of challenges. Finding a good space to work from, dealing with family distractions and the lack of having co-workers around in order to ask questions. Don’t wait for these challenges to become problems. Address them early with the remote worker so the change will go smoothly.
Keep in contact
A big challenge when in lockdown is the social isolation. As human beings we are not meant to be alone, we are packs animals and we crave to be around other people. Just think about what happens when prisoners are punished. They are placed in solitary isolation. Our most dangerous criminals are punished by keeping them alone and that is exactly the same situation for lot of people who find themselves isolation. So it’s no wonder some people are struggling. Remember just because people are working remotely it doesn’t mean they are no longer part of a team. As as a Manager make sure you keep in contact with your team and they know you are there for them if they need you.
I remember getting feedback from a team regarding their Manager. One person said that he liked how much his Manager trusted him because he only heard from her once a day while another team member said she felt that her Manager didn’t care because she only heard from her once a day. The same behaviour interpreted in complete opposite ways by different people. One saw it as a positive while the other saw it as a negative. This highlights the importance of clarifying the expectations of how you interact with people with regards both the frequency and content of your communication. You will find it easier by setting regular meetings or catch-ups with each team member.
Think about how you share information
The days of just sending emails and expecting everyone to read everything has long gone. I know people who will get hundreds maybe even thousands of emails everyday ranging from urgent to trivial so it’s time that we learnt how to adapt. As a Manager it’s your responsibility to ensure that your team has all the information that it needs in order to perform their duties to the best of their abilities so utilise new technologies such as having brief meetings via videoconference or instant messaging for urgent information and when you have your regular catch-ups make sure you use that time to confirm understanding of the information sent rather than just receipt.
Don’t lower expectations
Just because people are working from home it doesn’t mean they can lower their standards. I know a lot of Managers who were very resistant for years about people working from home because they had a belief that people wouldn’t work as hard and for a number for people this is true but the reality is that it’s just a minority of people the vast majority just want to do a good job regardless of whether they are working in an office or at home. The key is to establish clear expectations of what work is required and the standard of performance that has to be reached and then help the team maintain those standards. Remember just because people are remote it doesn’t mean they are removed from the consequences of their actions.
When people are together in the same place it’s easier to pick up on non-verbal cues on when people are getting stressed or something is bothering them but when people are working remotely this is more difficult so as a Manager you need to seek out confirmation that everyone is fine and this can start by the simplistic of actions like just being kind. There are many skills a leader can learn but one of the most effective will always be the ability to demonstrate kindness. Make people feel valued by taking time to check in to see if they are doing well and how they are coping in these difficult times. Then start caring about the people who your team cares about, their family, their loved ones. We are living in difficult times but life can be made a lot wiser with simple acts of kindness.
The core purpose of any team is for people to work together in order to achieve something they as individuals couldn’t achieve on their own. Traditionally this has meant that we gather people together so that they are physically together in one place but in these times of uncertainty this isn’t always possible but just because people are seperate it doesn’t mean the team no longer exists. A team requires a leader for direction and guidance and that can still be delivered regardless of whether the team is a few feet away or on the other side of the country we just need to find new ways of working and leading.
About the Author
Mark Wager is a Leadership Coach with over thirty years of managerial experience across a range of industries. A former Broker Sales Manager with a London Finance House and a National Manager for the Ministry of Justice Mark specialises in working with Leaders helping them overcome the barriers, both technical and mental standing between themselves and success.
A strong believer in taking complex leadership & psychological theories and making them accessible to people regardless of their background, education or industry Mark has helped develop Leaders from some of New Zealand’s leading organisations such as Fisher & Paykel, Weta FX, Heartland Bank, NZRL, NZ Netball, NZ Soccer, NZ Basketball, Amnesty Int, Barnardos, Oxfam, Red Cross and many more.
If you are serious about becoming a better Leader then contact Mark today
Posted: Wednesday 22 September 2021