You’ve adapted a remote-work policy for your employees, and many left the traditional office structure for a home-office setup as a health and safety precaution. Now, in-person collaboration with co-workers largely has been replaced with meetings conducted through digital platforms.

Concerns are high about a loss of productivity and employees growing distant from the mission of the organization and each other. You hope your company culture can remain intact and customer service doesn’t suffer.

Sound familiar? Chances are, it does.

This is a common scenario for many businesses that adapted their operations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What was initially thought to be a temporary stopgap to help slow the spread of Coronavirus has for many companies turned into a standard operating procedure.

We understand managing employees who are working in a remote setting can be challenging, but it’s not impossible.

Perhaps your employees have been working remotely for months. Maybe you are new to having your employees work remotely.

Either way, we’ve compiled some tips to help your company’s managers ensure they are effectively communicating with their employees and managing them while they aren’t all in the same location.

Connor Cross, Director of Human Resources for Syndeo, offers this advice:

Set expectations

Cross says this is the single most important piece of managing a remote workforce. “If you don’t set those expectations early on, you will likely experience challenges,” she says.

Some items to set expectations on include:

  • Core working hours.
  • Use of technology. One example is requiring employees to have their phones and virtual meeting or collaboration platform on and functional during your company’s core working hours.
  • Communication requirements. This could be asking employees to respond to emails and voicemails in the same day to the extent possible. Another potential expectation might be having employees turn their camera-sharing function on during virtual meetings or conference calls.

Know the communication preference of members of your team

“It is not about my preference in communication, it is about theirs, because ultimately that effects how they receive the message,” Cross says.  She meets in person with the members of Syndeo’s HR team who prefer that method and electronically via Microsoft Teams for those who would rather meet virtually. Being intentional about communication is always necessary, but it’s particularly important when your workforce largely is working remotely. Cross suggests conducting team and one-on-one meetings regularly to ensure you are providing frequent communication and feedback for members of your team.

“Conducting team meetings also helps maintain camaraderie and a team working environment,” Cross says. “It also helps people feel in touch with each other during a time that can feel very lonely.” She says knowing the communication preference of your clients also is important because their work environments likely have changed during the pandemic. Some businesses may still have their physical office or offices closed, while others may be open but limiting visitors.

Focus on results, not on where or how the work is being performed

Cross says remote managers shouldn’t be overly concerned about people who are working remotely doing the occasional load of laundry or taking a walk around the block during what otherwise would be normal working hours. She says that’s similar to how people in an office will engage in conversation with co-workers here and there or take short breaks throughout the work day.

“At Syndeo, as long as my team is taking care of our clients, taking care of themselves and taking care of each other, where the work is performed is mostly unimportant,” Cross says.

Maintain your organizational culture

If your team is accustomed to having fun while in the office, try to also bring fun into remote meetings (perhaps incorporating a fun or funny, yet HR-appropriate background) without losing site of the task or tasks at hand. Encourage employees to share with each other how things are going or to detail how projects are progressing.

For more information on managing a remote workforce, the Society for Human Resource Management also offers these 10 tips.

 

About us: As the Heartland’s leading employer services company, Syndeo partners with local business owners to help them minimize risk, improve efficiency and maximize profitability allowing them the freedom to focus on growth and fulfilling their mission. Syndeo fulfills its mission by taking on all of the HR responsibilities for our clients’ workforce, including employee relations, benefits, risk management and payroll.

 

~Josh Heck, Marketing Manager Syndeo