Remote working or telecommuting is uncharted territory for many companies and organisations. In an ideal world, everyone would be given ample time to prepare and establish remote work policies, but the current situation has forced many to take a shortcut and adapt to it swiftly. Fortunately, remote working is a time-tested approach that has proven very successful in many companies. As noted by Harvard Business Review, there are research-based steps that managers—even those without prior telecommuting experience—can take to make this new setup favourable for their respective teams, even when there is barely any time to prepare.
After all, remote working isn’t a particularly new concept. It’s a manifestation of what’s come to be known as Agile working, which is a flexible work model that utilises modern technology and allows members of the team to work anytime and anywhere, defying time zones and geographical locations, provided that the bottom line is successfully achieved. There is enough empirical evidence that shows that this approach leads to enhanced employee productivity, lowers operational costs, and results in a more motivated workforce. It also improves sustainability, given that it reduces a company’s carbon footprint.
TIME is now referring to this great migration to remote working as “the world’s largest work-from-home experiment.” Everyone can take this time to test working from home at scale. If you’re a manager and need help with adjusting to this foreign setup to make it work for you and your team, here are some actionable tips:
Let technology do the hard work for you.
Part of your job as a manager is to make sure that everyone in your team has the tools to facilitate easier communication and make them productive. You can then rely on technology to make everyone’s working life easier. Verizon Connect emphasises that this could involve simple solutions such as using task scheduling apps and productivity timers—embracing this kind of technology can help you stay organised and automate time-consuming tasks.
If this is the first time that your team is trying out remote working, the last thing everyone needs is an ambiguous set of responsibilities or instructions, as pointed out by corporate psychologist and executive coach Dr Patricia Thompson . Not all tasks can translate easily from the office to remote working, so it’s best to be straightforward and realistic with your expectations for your team’s work. You should assess what can and cannot be achieved, and prioritise them accordingly. It would also help to state the deliverables and the reasons behind them, so everyone has a complete picture of what you need to achieve as a team.
Remember that not everyone can adjust to a remote working role right away, so be sure to give some leeway for technical glitches and concerns, especially in the beginning. You can’t expect your team to be working at 100% efficiency from the get-go. Some members of your company may have other responsibilities to juggle, like tending to a child or caring for a loved one, and would most likely need some grace and understanding. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself, as well as the rest of your team, so you can all ease into the new setup without the added stress.
Recognise their hard work.
Employees have a deep desire for recognition. In fact, according to data curated by CIO, 72% of employees rank recognition for having a significant impact on employee engagement. And given that the unique working setup can cause feelings of isolation, it’s all the more important to make sure your team knows that they are valued. It would be best if you give them a simple “thank you,” or fire off a quick congratulatory message for a job well done. It will certainly go a long way.
Managing a remote team, especially for the first time, can be tough. But by investing in the right tools, encouraging continuous communication, and offering support to everyone, your company will have a better chance of thriving in a remote work environment.