In the age of WFH, here’s why it is important to know your team members well
Across the globe, estimates suggest that over 50% of employees now work remotely at
least once a week. It’s a phenomenon that’s continually evolving and transforming the
way we work. Working from home is often used synonymously with remote work, but
it’s a practice that’s broader than that. Whether it’s an employee working from home, or
a team of employees working together from separate locations, remote working comes
with its own set of challenges.
Here’s what managers can do to alleviate these pains and get to know their teammates
better, ensuring smooth functioning and increased productivity.
Establish regular check-ins
The adage of ‘Distance makes hearts grow fonder’ may not necessarily be true when it
comes to remote working. Without adequate communication, teammates may feel
disconnected from overall organisation goals and work only on tasks that affect their
day to day lives. Research shows that increased contact between remote workers and
supervisors helps with engagement and motivation. Don’t leave communication to
chance and need. Schedule regular meetings using the most convenient communication
platform – both one on one and overall team meetings. Extra points if you pick a
designated time in the day/week so that employees aren’t caught off guard and can
mentally and physically be prepared.
Traditional work setting rules rarely apply to remote working formats. Managers and
employees, both, need to agree on processes that work. Trial and error is the name of
the game, as a commonly accepted success formula may just not apply to your team.
From working hours to turnaround times to communication platforms, make sure the
whole team is on the same page with what is to be collectively accomplished. While
objectives should be realistic, they must also be measurable and flexible, which keeps
the focus on the outcome rather than how the said outcome has come to fruition.
Celebrate wins – both big and small
While conference room catch-ups post milestone successes may not be a thing now or
anytime soon, it doesn’t mean wins should not be adequately recognised. Addressing
wins is an opportunity to recognise hard work while creating an atmosphere of
productivity and positivity for employees. Analysing wins also allows you to streamline
processes and remedy the negatives – a key characteristic of any agile business.
Ensure crystal clear clarity
Having clear roles and well-defined expectations is one of the biggest aspects that
ensure psychological safety at the workplace. With employees functioning remotely, this
becomes even more important, as they may work towards a path they assume is correct
and which may not necessarily be so. Such misalignments can slow down employee
development and eventually, overall productivity. Setting expectations isn’t a one-off.
Check in on employees by asking them about their daily, weekly and monthly goals and
help them define what success looks like for their role.
Set up multiple communication platforms
Say this with us – E-mails alone are insufficient. Remote workers always benefit when
they have the option of choosing a communication platform that’s suited to their role,
needs and personality. Maybe some people feel most comfortable over text while others
cannot do without face to face interaction. Studies have shown that video calls are
particularly useful for complex or sensitive conversations, as it feels more personal than
written or audio communication. Always remember to consult with your IT department
to ensure there is an appropriate level of data security before using any of these tools.
With remote working becoming the norm, the faster managers learn to circumvent its
obstacles and find their sweet spot – both for themselves and their teams, the better.
There is enough and more evidence to show that remote working leads to more
productivity and greater engagement – but only with systems put in place that prioritise
both productivity and personalities.