Foundations of business and the world of work will drastically mutate with the COVID-19 situation. My previous post on this topic addressed how employees could make the best of their time if they have to work remotely.
This post seeks to help employers better manage the process of virtual work and stay on top of the situation. Rather than sticking your head in the sand in the wake of the Corona Virus pandemic, we advise that you become a proactive employer/ business owner /manager.
The traditional way of managing organisations and employees has been altered. The very nature of how leadership is conducted has been challenged. Now is the time to rise up to the occasion and implement changes towards a more remote and flexible work strategy.
These changes may ultimately result in more convenient, flexible and productive work culture. Responding positively to these changes may lead some of these changes becoming standard practice in our organisations.
Find below Excel Tips to excellently manage your team and assure productivity as they work from home
Best practices for managing remote teams effectively
1. Agree on clearly defined deliverables
Discuss and agree on everyone’s work schedules in advance and set up deadlines accordingly. The only way a remote team can function effectively is when everyone clearly understands the team’s goals and their individual responsibilities to achieve those goals. Create a document with a neatly organized plan along with individual responsibilities and timelines.
2. Bulid trust in your teammates
For managers, now is the time to avoid micromanaging remote teams. If you keep checking on employees or monitoring their activities, they may feel distrusted. This may alienate or demoralize them. Trust your team to manage their time effectively. Working from home may come with several distractions especially due to the global pandemic. You should trust your team members to manage their time effectively. Whether they start the work a little late or take frequent breaks, it shouldn’t be a problem as long as they are able to get the work done.
3. Give clear, specific and time-bound instructions
Working from home means that you will be communicating with your teams through emails, instant messaging applications, video conferencing, etc. It’s important that you word instructions correctly giving no rooms for assumptions and ambiguities. When communicating online with your team, make sure you are as specific as possible about work goals and expectations. For instance, instead of saying a vague statement like ‘I need this report submitted ASAP,’ say ‘I need this report submitted by 3 pm.’
4. Offer timely, clear and direct feedback
Managers need to be comfortable and timely in offering both positive and corrective feedback to remote employees. Get as specific about your feedback as possible so that the employees can understand your expectations and perform better in the future. Immediately address unproductive work behavior and agree on corrective measures. Institute a recognition program to acknowledge top performers and celebrate the achievement of milestones.
5. Invest in the right project management software
Emails alone is insufficient. You can only have a highly productive remote team if you have the right remote project management software to back it up. If employees can’t download files, have difficulty sharing information, struggle hearing on audio or video conference call, and don’t have a customer relationship platform to engage and address client needs, then you have failed from the start.
First, invest in reliable tools to make collaboration possible, train employees on the use of such tools and develop clear processes and guidelines on the use of these remote working tools. Your remote team need a central space to communicate, collaborate, and access all the work-related data.
You can create projects, assign tasks to team members, and collaborate seamlessly. These tools should be easily accessible from any location and any device which makes it all the easier for remote employees to work closely together. Streamlining organizational operations and remote work processes also help improve the employee experience.
Microsoft Teams, Teamviewer, Zoho, Asana, Skye Business, Zoom, Quip, etc. are some working tools you could take advantage of to enhance team productivity in these unusual times.
6. Offer encouragement and emotional support
The Corona Virus pandemic along with its far reaching consequences has resulted in an abrupt shift from working from office to working from home. It is important for business owners and managers to acknowledge medical conditions, stress, listen to employees’ anxieties and concerns, and empathize with their struggles. Questions such as;
How are you doing, as well as your family and loved ones?
How are you keeping yourself and loved ones safe from the virus?
How are you coping with working from home?
These questions can elicit important information that you might not otherwise hear. Let the employee’s stress or concerns (rather than your own) be your focus as well.
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The writer, Grace Asiedua Osafo, is the Lead HR Consultant for Excel HR Consult.