Even before Coronavirus, remote working was on the rise and it will only become more and more common. In fact, if Covid-19 proved anything from a future of work perspective, it was that there is little reason most employees needed to be in the office the whole time. Research conducted before the pandemic showed that almost 90% of employees would like to work remotely for at least a proportion of the time and employers that offer this flexibility, have a clear advantage in attracting and retaining talent.
Despite this growing trend among employees it has proven difficult for many managers to adapt to. The old ways of managing work and assessing performance do not work when your team are not sat in front of you for the whole day. Corporate culture has promoted the idea that productivity is tied into the amount of time you have spent at your desk and for micro managers especially it is extremely hard to adapt to managing a remote team.
Trust your team
“But, how do I know that my team are working?”. This is the fundamental statement that has prevented all teams and companies from adopting flexible working. The technology to enable remote working has been around for 20 years and research shows that employees who work remotely are more productive than when they are in the office. So why isn’t it standard practice? Because managers, especially micromanagers, have been unable to give up control, take a step back and trust their employees to get the job done. Your employee is not going to become a bad one overnight because they are working from their coffee table instead of a desk in the business district. If you cannot trust your employees to do what they are paid for, you have much bigger issues around your company culture. Trust your team to do the job, you hired them because they had the required capability to perform.
Set clear objectives
Any manager that complains about how their team may not be working at home, was not tracking performance properly before they began managing a remote team. There is zero difference in how you measure performance when someone is in the office, or out of the office. You set clear objectives for your team members and they either deliver or they do not. It is literally that simple. Leaders need to shift their mentality away from activity and time spent at a desk, to judging whether or not the goals have been delivered. If you insist on tracking activity you are going to end up with a group of disengaged employees that are looking to work elsewhere.
Establish a clear communication plan
Finally, it is important to establish a clear communication plan with your team. Most leaders do not do this often enough when in the office, because they take for granted that they can just get a quick update on anything ad-hoc. When you work remotely this is obviously not possible. Therefore, you need to establish a method to get this updates and share information with your team. The easiest way to set out a communication plan, is to put in a place a weekly catch up meeting or some other sort of cadence. This can be combina with slack channels, whatsapp groups and so on.
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