Remote working has become the new norm thanks to COVID-19. Heck, 31% of employees switched from traditional office environments to a remote setup between March and April last year! This transition has been a lifeline for businesses that would otherwise have had to cease operations entirely.
But it isn’t without its difficulties…
After all, employees have to juggle the various stresses of home life with the rigors of their roles. They’re working alone, without the usual input from and interaction with colleagues. Throw in the need to adopt novel tools, systems, and strategies, and remote workers face a whole smorgasbord of challenges.
Are you in charge of a new remote team and want to learn how to help them? Well, you’re in the right place! Check out these 6 essential ways to support your offsite employees.
1. Stay in Constant Communication
Quality communication is always crucial to business success. It’s the secret to staying productive, avoiding errors, and facilitating relationships in the office.
It’s even more important for remote workers though! Remember, everybody’s operating in silos, performing their duties without the usual closeness to colleagues. That’s a recipe for workflow problems and isolation issues unless you stay in regular, ongoing contact.
This can be particularly difficult when your team operates around the world. Different time zones and costly international calls compromise communication like nothing else! In these situations, investing in an internet business phone and choosing times for virtual meetings with care will both make a difference.
Try to arrange brief daily video calls to check-in with the team too. You could also invest in a communications tool, such as Slack. And make yourself available at all times for questions, catch-ups, and general reassurance!
2. Remain Understanding and Fair
It’s one thing to choose to work from home. It’s another to have it forced upon you through circumstance alone! For teams who have switched to remote work due to COVID-19, neither their living space nor mindset may be set up for the task.
As the boss, that’s important to keep in mind. Why?
Because you may have to cut everyone some slack! There might be kids who need to be schooled and fed; chores to complete, and new distractions at every turn. Asking your employees to work typical hours and/or deliver the usual results might be unreasonable (and unfeasible).
Fairness, empathy, and flexibility should be your new mantras. Trust your team to do their best, offer support wherever possible, and you’ll be rewarded in kind.
3. Avoid Micromanagement
It’s tempting to micromanage everything when you’ve never been in charge of remote teams before. After all, you can’t see what everyone’s doing! It’s harder to keep tabs on how a project’s progressing and ensure everybody’s pulling their weight.
One thing’s for sure, though:
Trying to control everything at all times is inadvisable (not to mention impossible). Trust us, being too domineering and demanding won’t go down well with the team! They’ll feel disrespected and disempowered; you’ll add to their burgeoning stress levels and make it harder for them to do their jobs.
This is where trust and flexibility come into play. Put faith in your remote employees and gives them control over their schedules! As long as they do the work, there’s no need for them to do it during typical office hours.
4. Offer Mental Health Support
It’s worth re-emphasizing how lonely remote working can be (especially when you’re not accustomed to it). There’s no gossip around the water-cooler or casual conversations in the communal kitchen anymore. You can’t exchange knowing glances, lean over the desk to ask a question to a colleague, or support each other after a hard day with a warm embrace.
You’re alone, handling the pressures of work and home life at the same time.
That’s why we recommend investing in your remote workers’ mental health. One of the simplest ways to do this is to arrange regular one-to-one check-ins. Daily communication, however brief it might be, will help people feel connected and supported.
Don’t stop there though! Another popular approach is to pay for professional services to provide counseling over the phone to employees in distress. Thoughtful touches, such as sending “get well soon” cards to anybody who falls ill, will make a big difference too.
5. Organize Virtual Social Events
You might not be able to meet up in person. But you can still have some fun over the airwaves! Indeed, virtual get-togethers have sky-rocketed in popularity since the dawn of COVID-19.
For good reason, too. No matter what you do, they’re a chance for everybody to connect, catch-up, and forget about their usual stresses for a few hours.
Why not organize these kinds of virtual events every week or so? You could host quiz nights and post-work drinks, have virtual coffee dates and involve fascinating guest speakers to engage the team. Oh, and some virtual team-building and training might go down well too!
6. Show Your Appreciation
Never underestimate the power of appreciation. One of the best ways to support your remote workers is simply to thank them for their hard work! Whether you do it via a phone call or direct message, they’ll feel acknowledged and validated.
Another possibility is to send group emails/messages to celebrate individual achievements. Highlight employees who have done something noteworthy (whether it’s work-related or not). Efforts of this nature will bring everyone together, increase employee satisfaction in the process, and show that you care.
Remember These Ways to Support Remote Workers
COVID-19 has forced huge numbers of employees to work from home instead of the office. The result? Entire teams of individuals have had to adopt new working practices, balance professional and home lives, and go without the usual social interaction.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways for employers to help remote workers through these challenges! We hope the suggestions in this article have highlighted some of the most effective methods at your disposal. Struggling to adjust to a remote business model?
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