The Covid-19 pandemic upended the everyday work routines as we knew them. All of a sudden, we had to transition from managing people in the office to monitoring their work performance remotely.
Companies have put in place work-from-home arrangements since the pandemic began in March last year. Large corporations like Amazon, Apple, Capital One, and Microsoft announced that they have switched to either long-term remote work or a permanent work-from-home setup—pandemic or not.
Now, we are faced with trying to overcome the challenges of managing remote employees. Work, after all, does not just mean sitting in front of a laptop, attending Zoom meetings, and emailing reports.
Despite the rollout of vaccines worldwide, people are still afraid to go to physical offices; working from home will now be the new normal for most companies. So, what are the challenges that even the most experienced managers face in this era of remote work? Read on to find out, along with how to overcome them.
Communicating with a team dispersed across the country is a constant challenge. There is also the issue of ensuring that everyone gets information at the same time, which is not always easy to do. Some team members’ attention might be elsewhere due to the many distractions at home.
Using communication tools like Lark, Slack, or Skype can make communicating much more manageable. These tools notify your employees that they have a message from you, and this helps them respond promptly.
Distractions at Home
Parents are now juggling work and looking after their children in the same location. They may need to prepare lunch, wash the dishes, let the dog out, and homeschool the kids.
Unfortunately, these distractions often affect productivity. Ideally, a remote team member should have a dedicated space for work, a stable internet connection, and childcare arrangements. Not everyone has access to all of these.
As a manager, you can work with your team members to understand and tackle these issues, so you can develop work hours that are best for the both of you.
For most managers, tracking how much work your remote team accomplishes as well as how quickly they get it done is quite a challenge. While it is easy to see who is being underutilized when in the office, the same cannot be said for remote work situations.
That is why, as a manager, you might want to use specialized methods and systems to track the productivity of your remote team. You can set up Key Performance Indicators to assess their productivity and to ensure that your team understands that there are expectations in place. Learn about how best to measure productivity in the workplace.
Remember when you could stop for a short break at work to banter with your colleagues and have a good laugh? Those were the days.
Working at home can bring about feelings of loneliness. Coping with the stresses of work means doing it alone and without the support of co-workers who understand what you are going through. It can certainly take a mental toll on anybody.
Do your best to check in on each of your employees and show your support. You can have one-on-one meetings via Zoom or Microsoft Teams. Also, consider creating social media groups where team members can share their feelings or, maybe, tips on how to perform more effectively as a remote worker.
Developing a great company culture involves fostering healthy communication, building trust, and being on the same page when working toward the same goals. An organization can accomplish all these organically in an office. It is a different case altogether for remote teams, and it requires a lot of planning.
You can host virtual parties where remote employees can be in one virtual place together. You can play games, watch a movie, or even have drinks without having to be in the same physical location.
Whether we like it or not, the work-from-home setup is here to stay. While we are slowly getting used to this new method of operation, managing remote teams can pose unique challenges. Hiring employees from startups to existing companies is not easy. Thankfully, you can overcome these challenges effectively by improving communication and infrastructure to help remove any barriers to workforce productivity.