It can be enough of a challenge to manage your own working from home arrangements during this period of lockdown. Added to that now is the task of managing a team who are all working remotely – something that many managers may not have had an experience of before. It can be daunting but it is manageable.
Recently businesses across the UK have had to insist employees to work from home without any preparation, adding to the pressured conditions and heightened uncertainly of the economic uncertainty currently paralysing the Country.
Your role, as a manager, will be more complicated than usual and you may need to reset your expectations of how work gets done and adapt your management style to deal with this new way of working successfully.
So, before we look at how you can help your employees with the practicalities of working from home, let's take a look at some guidance for managers who find themselves in this novel and slightly daunting situation.
Here are 7 Key Tips
- Adjust Your Expectations
- Support Virtual Learning
- Consider a Buddy System
- Embrace Resilience
- Communicate Consistently
- Keep Mentally Healthy
- Use Technology to the Full
Adjust Your Expectations
Inevitably, there will need to be some readjustment of expectations. From being flexible on deadlines to confirming who is doing what, you must let your team have a degree of autonomy.
For some, this may mean starting work earlier or later to fit in with family commitments such as homeschooling or reprioritising more complicated work tasks for times when they can accomplish most work without interruption.
Additionally, some, possibly many, of your own customers and clients will have altered schedules and new priorities, and you may have to rethink deadlines and tasks that need to be completed for them.
Some team members will work faster than others – sometimes due to Internet speeds or technological awareness – this is almost certain in the early days. Show patience and understanding as your team gets to grips with a way of working that may be entirely new for them. If some are working faster than others, let them take on additional tasks where possible.
Remember – focusing on the results is critical; so, allow some flexibility.
Support Virtual Learning
Lifelong learning opportunities shouldn't stop because your employees are no longer in the workplace. While it might not be possible to hold group training sessions, encourage your employees to continue with training and learning online or via training manuals.
Many businesses have opted to include a 30-minute 'freestyle' training time at the beginning of each day. This means that employees can choose something to learn online that will expand their industry knowledge and add to their skillset.
To make this a more cohesive experience, you could ask the team to take a turn in sharing a learning experience with their colleagues as part of your online catch-up. Not only does this ensure useful knowledge is shared, but it is another opportunity for bonding the group.
Consider a Buddy System
If you manage a large team, you may wish to consider assigning work buddies. As well as ensuring you are not overwhelmed with dealing with all your teams’ wants and needs, having a buddy system means there is an extra layer of moral support available for everyone. And if people are having a bad day and just need to let off steam, they are more likely to share and get the support they need from a colleague, rather than approach a senior manager.
Showing great leadership at times like these will reflect positively on your employees. If they trust you know what you are doing, it will build their confidence and help dampen doubts about the future.
Maintaining your resilience and demonstrating confidence in the future will enable your team to find purpose in their work. Additionally, remember that humour is a wonderful relief valve; it's not all doom and gloom.
Over-communication is the key to maintaining a sense of team spirit and support while your employees are working in isolation. So, stay in touch with your team – even if there's not much to say. Individuals may become anxious if there is a lack of information, and this can lead to second-guessing, so regular daily updates are a must.
Additionally, maintaining transparent communication demonstrates empathy and a genuine concern for your team, which will heighten their morale and boost productivity levels.
Keep Mentally Healthy
On this note too, remember to check on each individual's mental health frequently. This should take place on a one to one call for discretion. You could ask how they are feeling on a scale of 1-5, with five being very stressed.
Also, take the opportunity to ask them how they are coping with their workload, and if they have (or need) additional support. Doing this will allow you to gauge how each team member is coping, demonstrate much-needed empathy and support, and can help prevent employees from starting to become overly stressed.
There are many charities offering assistance if you or your team are feeling stressed, as well as suggestions for maintaining wellbeing, so do take advantage of these, if necessary. Seeking help, if needed, in this extraordinary situation, should be encouraged.
Use Technology to the Full
Zoom, Microsoft teams, google docs,skype, gotowebinar.... there are a host of easy to use resources which you can use to communicate with the team. Set a clear structure of what methods should be used and when and embrace it. Technology is definitely your friend at this time.
Having the above strategies in place to know how you can set up and support your virtual team and stay sane yourself, it’s now time to consider the practical arrangements you need to make to help your employees work remotely.
Can We Help
Hopefully, we can with our market knowledge even if its simply pointing you in a different direction.
We have placed and filled over 100,000 temp and permanent assignments over the last 27 years so have a range of techniques, ideas and platforms which could help you. Why not call us on 0113 367 2880 have a conversation with one of our team. Alternatively drop us an email here or check out are Testimonials and Case Studies.