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Though the concept of working from home can hardly be considered novel in today’s hyperconnected world, recent months have seen it thrust into the limelight, as companies across the globe scramble to organize around the COVID-19 pandemic. In many cases, this sudden transition has been met with resistance from managers and workers alike, and it’s unsurprising — any paradigm shift that stems from crisis rather than thoughtful and considered planning is bound to bring unease.
The benefits of a partial or full work-from-home scheme have been expanded on before, and if you’ve found yourself suddenly managing a remote team, perhaps you’re wondering whether you and your employees can begin to really reap the benefits of this model in the near future. Here are some challenges you may face in making this transition, and how to address them:
Building trust with your team
A pivot to virtual interactions can be a daunting task for anyone accustomed to dealing with their team face-to-face. The nuances in someone’s demeanor, which we easily pick up on in person (whether they’re feeling motivated, happy, burned out, or under the weather, for instance), can prove more difficult to perceive through a screen. This is why it’s important to establish clear channels of communication that don’t deal exclusively with work. Employees should feel comfortable communicating their emotions as they relate to their performance, whether it be directly to their manager, or through a system of regular check-ins with a mediator.
Working under more flexible schedules
An erroneous idea of remote work is that employees will slack off if they’re not under the watchful eye of their managers. In fact, the opposite tends to be true — those who work from home are generally more productive than their in-office counterparts. But this benefit comes with some strings attached: Increased productivity can lead to higher rates of burnout, as employees struggle to achieve a work-life balance, or feel that they have to make themselves constantly available. Make sure your team knows that you know one of the benefits of remote work is the freedom to tweak their schedules to their personal preferences. This way, they won’t hesitate to let you know when they’re on call, and when they’re taking a break (which, remember, is ultimately a good thing!)
Making it easy to collaborate
Managing a remote team doesn’t only require that you pay close attention to your own relationship with your employees; you must also oversee that collaboration between coworkers is running smoothly. Luckily, myriad software has popped up in recent years aimed at addressing this specific concern, and all you have to do is determine which platform suits your team’s specific needs and workflows. Once you settle on one, make sure to create specific channels and guidelines so that they know how and when to reach others on the team.
Finding time for social interaction
Team-building can become a little trickier when working with remote teams, and it also gains special importance. Understanding the personalities of team members through social interactions builds empathy, which helps everyone navigate their relationships. The onboarding process presents an opportunity to introduce a new member to their coworkers. Set up meetings between the new team mate and every team leader, where they’ll be able to chat not only about their role in the company, but also about their own interests and hobbies. With the help of a mediator, you can also create monthly group dynamics geared towards getting to know each other better, outside of work endeavors.
Adjusting and improving corporate culture
A company that pivots to remote work has already taken a step towards asserting that they trust their employees to get their jobs done. Pay special attention to the ways in which you can make your employees happy and proud to work with you: Embrace transparency by giving and soliciting regular feedback, promote purpose and passion by recognizing and rewarding good work, and get creative with attractive company perks for everyone working remotely!
Letting your employees know you’ve got their backs — literally
Perhaps you think that once your team is working from home, the task of setting up a comfortable workspace falls on them. Think again. Cutting the operational costs of an office will save you large amounts of money, so it’s important that you invest a percentage of that back into your team’s remote work equipment. This can range from something as simple as ergonomic chairs and flexible desks to fully decked-out, customized work spaces.
Check out how GroWrk can help you make a seamless transition to remote, here.