These are strange times. As the COVID-19 pandemic has sent businesses scrambling to move their operations online, workers have grappled with new technology while management has struggled to keep staff engaged and feeling appreciated. Is there any good way to operate under crisis conditions, though? While many have raised the point that people are not working from home, so much as working from their houses in an emergency, the urgency of the situation doesn’t cancel out leadership’s responsibility to step up to the plate.
What does great remote management look like? Though in many ways it’s not that different from great face-to-face leadership, these 4 guidelines can help you collaborate with workers, even when conditions are less than ideal.
We’re living in a world in crisis. Yes, you’re doing business, but even having transitioned to remote work, staff or their families may still get sick, people may struggle with new technology, or children might get in the way. In other words, now is the time to be flexible. Ask team members what they need and how you can accommodate them so they can best complete their work. Offer alternatives to meeting times, listen to what challenges staff are facing, and you’ll be more likely to meet your goals than if you tried to force everyone to work exactly how you want them to.
Use The Right Tools
One of the biggest challenges that workers are facing – even young, tech savvy ones – is mastering the tools for remote work. You can make this easier on your team by adopting the right tools for the job. Professionally-oriented programs like Cisco’s Webex make it easy to communicate and are less likely to be overloaded than mainstream platforms, integrate with other business software, and it provides productivity support at a time when many are at loose ends and could use the help.
Establish Key Norms
As many people have pointed out since the start of the pandemic, the shift to remote work has us all tossing office norms out the window. Do we have to wear professional clothes? What time does the work day start? While it’s important to be flexible, you can help your team make the transition by establishing a few key guidelines. Meet with you team – this is the time for a video call – and agree on remote work hours, how you’ll communicate, and what type of time frame to expect on key communications. In the remote management era, now that you can’t just walk up to team members to check in on projects, it’s critical that you’re all on the same page.
A lot of workers right now are complaining about how their companies want them to use various kinds of tracking software, programs that spy on their work and make sure that they’re on task. They’re frustrated by being micromanaged and feel like their privacy is being invaded – and they’re right. What will earn you your team’s respect, and help them do their best work during this time, is if you are willing to extend your trust to them.
Remote work may not have been your company’s choice the way it would have been under normal circumstances, or something your team has to earn the right to access, but that doesn’t mean you should always be over their shoulder. Demonstrate that you believe they will do the right thing and you’ll see results.
This isn’t typical remote work, but you can take a lot of remote management lessons from companies who’ve been doing this for years. And remember, if something isn’t working, address it. Talk to your team about their experiences and try something new. We’re all in this together.