If your workforce is sequestered in their homes due to COVID-19, your HR department needs to quickly learn to manage them remotely. Feelings of isolation are affecting employees around the world, but according to a Gallup webinar, 83% of U.S. employees believe their organization is responding well to the crisis. Let’s keep up the good work by learning some best practices for managing your workforce remotely.
With strong management, you can pull your team together to act as a cohesive unit even though you’re not in the same physical location.
Create a manager-support forum.
Rally your managers to step up to the challenge by learning together and supporting one another through the transition. Many managers may need to build confidence in their ability to manage a remote team. Create a forum within an online platform where they can share questions and ideas, engaging in peer support. Then, give them consistent guidance on implementing all of the following strategies for managing their team remotely.
Create individual plans.
Individualized coaching is one of the keys to success, and giving remote employees this personalized guidance requires much intention. Talk with employees one-on-one by phone or video chat to discuss their concerns and help them outline a plan for maximizing productivity. Help them pinpoint the times of day when they have the most energy and how to utilize it effectively. Work with them to set up time blocks and build in breaks.
Structure your communication.
Different communication tools work best for particular purposes. Create a clear communication structure that shows which tools to use for particular needs and when to use them. Explain it to all employees, letting them know the times when you’re most available as well. Here are a couple of key ways to communicate on a daily basis.
Hold morning check-ins
Remote employees might have more difficulty with clearly understanding which tasks they should prioritize. To ensure clarity about responsibilities, workflow, and priorities, hold a team call with your employees to kick off the day. Set up a video chat where everyone can see one another’s faces to enhance their sense of comradery.
Use individual messaging tools
Make use of tools like Slack or Google Hangouts that allow employees to send or receive messages from coworkers and managers directly, too. This will enhance collaboration by giving everyone the ability to communicate instantly.
Adopt a project management system
If you’re not already using a project management system like Trello or Basecamp—or aren’t using it enough—now is the time. This software proves invaluable for managing a remote workforce, keeping everyone on the same page about workflow and deadlines.
Also, consider using time-tracking tools like Toggl, Tick, or Timesheets. Emphasize that these tools will help employees track their own time and manage their own productivity.
Leave time to socialize.
To feel connected, employees need time to share updates on their lives. Whether telling comical stories of sharing a workspace with a spouse or discussing how they balance parenting young children with working remotely, sharing anecdotes about their day-to-day lives will keep them closer as a team. Plus, they can give each other tidbits of advice about how to balance it all!
Keep employees informed.
To help your employees feel like part of a cohesive whole, keep them apprised of your organization’s plans. Let them know any changes your company will be making, asking for their input before launching them. By doing so, you’ll help them feel more invested in the changes.
Show you care about their wellbeing.
Encourage your employees to make wise decisions about their health—including their mental and emotional health. Managing their stress level will help them stay healthy and effective. By showing compassion and understanding when employees are going through especially challenging times, you’ll help them decrease their stress and improve their overall wellbeing. You can also send out quick pulse surveys on a regular basis to check in with them about their changing needs.
Encourage your managers to keep learning and trying new tactics that others have found effective. Share an article once or twice a week that provides more tips on a particular area of management and prompt them to discuss it in their online forum or in a group video call. By making the experience of learning more interactive, you’ll help managers feel more connected and capable—and they’ll transmit that same feeling of unity and can-do spirit to the rest of the team.