Managing a Remote Team

Published:15/04/2020

Managing a Remote Team

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to close workplaces around the globe, many of us are being asked to work from home in the hope of slowing the spread of the virus and protecting the health and safety of the workplace.

This change brings with it a new set of challenges for both employers and employees, so knowing how to encourage stability and maximise staff engagement can be essential for maintaining business continuity.

Whilst an increasing portion of the modern workforce already work from home or a remote location, at some capacity, many employees are now finding themselves suddenly working out of the office and away from their colleagues for the first time because of the restrictions put in place for COVID-19.

This sudden shift in work environments and a lack of regular face-to-face interactions with colleagues is proving to be a challenge for many employees. So how can employers and managers protect the mental wellbeing of their employees from afar and help them feel less unstructured, unmotivated and disconnected during this time?


Tips to help employees remain focused and productive when working from home:

  • Maintain a regular schedule - Encourage your staff to maintain a regular routine, just as they would do if they were still working from the office. This includes waking up at a normal time and starting work, taking coffee and lunch breaks etc. A routine does not have to change just because the environment has.
  • Conduct structured daily check ins - pick a regular time each day for a call or video chat with your team. This can be done one-on-one to give employees a chance to raise any concerns or questions or as a team if the work is collaborative. This will also give you an idea of how employees are keeping up with their workload and if tasks are falling behind because they are out of the office.
  • Stay connected - sending emails alone is often not enough. Try and keep your team connected and in constant communication using several different options. There are plenty of free applications that you can use to easily facilitate video chats and live team conversations including Microsoft Teams, Skype and Zoom.
  • Take breaks - it is important to take regular breaks in a timely manner to help maintain motivation and to avoid burnout. If it is something you are likely to forget, you can set reminders on your phone or computer to take a break, stretch, have a coffee, check in with a colleague, get outside for some fresh air etc.
  • Provide opportunities for remote social interaction - this is particularly important for those workers who have been abruptly transitioned out of the office, like many during the COVID-19 crisis. This is about finding ways for your team to interact socially despite being away from the office and each other. For example, leave some time at the beginning of team check-in calls to catch up and discuss non work-related topics, hold video coffee breaks or after-work drinks to catch up and check in with your colleagues.
  • Provide encouragement and emotional support - when employees find themselves working from home suddenly, with little preparation and during a time of crisis, they are likely to feel disconnected and lonely. This can impact their ability to work efficiently. Managers should acknowledge this stress and listen to the concerns of employees to help boost team morale and productivity.
  • To-do lists - it may be helpful for you and your team to create a task list or schedule out your day to ensure you are still meeting your goals and not falling behind on tasks.
  • Create boundaries between 'work time' and 'home time' - setting up a routine or regular structure for your day, just as you would have in the office, will help minimise the possibility of work overflowing into family or personal time and help you switch off from work at the end of the day.
  • Try a digital detox - while most of us are turning to technology to stay connected during this rather isolating time, it can make it very hard for us to switch off and unwind. Encourage your employees to try a digital detox, switch off electronic devices and focus on doing the things that you would like to do or need to do to recharge for the next day.

How Coverforce can help

The effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic are being felt by all. As the global situation unfolds, businesses are facing new challenges and life-changing financial consequences.

For further information regarding your insurance during this time or for expert risk management advice for your business, please don't hesitate to get in touch with your Coverforce insurance broker directly or contact your local Coverforce Office.


The information provided in this article is of a general nature only and has been prepared without taking into account your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. If you require advice that is tailored to your specific business or individual circumstances, please contact Coverforce directly.


References

  • https://hbr.org/2020/03/a-guide-to-managing-your-newly-remote-workers
  • https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200312-coronavirus-covid-19-update-work-from-home-in-a-pandemic
  • https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/work-flexibility/2020/tips-for-managing-remote-workforce-during-coronavirus

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