There is a phenomenon occurring worldwide, now at a faster pace than ever. Workers are retreating to the home, never to enter their office again. No, they have not been fired – they are working remotely.
There’s a whole new generation entering the workforce that may never see the inside of a typical workplace. They will take on their careers from the comfort of their homes through the power of the internet – incredible.
There are thousands, if not millions, of articles, blog posts, and educational videos about how working from home can affect employees. But there are two sides to every coin.
What about the remote managers that hold it all together? The managers act as a base for their employees far & wide to flock to for instruction and advice. It turns out that traditional onsite management skills do not always translate into the remote workforce. So, managers are bound to have a few pertinent questions now and then.
The 6 Issues You Will Face as A Remote Manager & How to Fix Them
Keeping track of workflow
If you and your team value a result-based approach to measuring productivity, then you can skip this point. However, for some managers, having a bird-eye view of their team’s activity, progress, and communications is necessary. A manager can consult their team simply by meeting them at their desks or arranging meetings in an on-premises setting. From this in-person approach, a manager can usually see immediately if their team is on-task and producing quality results.
Without this routine of direct management and feedback, a remote manager may feel like they are not managing much at all. Fortunately, there are some tips and tricks for overcoming this issue.
You can set the foundations for consistent workflow by setting up metrics for how much work is expected and within what length of time. Time tracking tools may also be to your liking if you find that projects are often finished late, or output is behind.
To get a 360° view of workflow, consider finding out your team’s working hours, and be sure to schedule one-on-one debrief meetings with them. Consider arranging an automatic asynchronous feedback process that adheres to each employee’s respective time zone.
However, if you would like to cut to the chase and have all your management applications and tools neatly collected in one place, consider investing in a Project Management system.
Lack of company culture
Remote working is hardly conducive to a vibrant and dynamic company culture. Not seeing another colleague or company member for months at a time can leave a team feeling detached from one another. And that is not good.
A company’s culture represents its ethos, values, aims, goals, and all-around “feel.” When you are in the workplace, you bask in this cultural landscape, you infuse it into your work, and it often works to “rally the troops.”
So, no company or team can afford to lose the benefits that a shared professional culture brings. Here are some ways team managers can promote culture remotely.
To begin with, there needs to be a top-down approach from the manager’s level. That means, if you are not an ambassador for your team/companies’ ideals, then your team members won’t be either.
Consider setting up a virtual watercooler where team members can talk about topics unrelated to their work. Something as simple as a dedicated instant messenger feature can achieve this casual and social goal.
Another way of bolstering team/company spirit is sending out gift cards, company merchandise, and other nifty treats now and then. Organizing work retreats and the odd fun evening out is also essential to help everyone reconnect in a shared environment.
Traditional methods such as email or calls do not always cut it. Email content can often be easily lost, misread, or even confuse the person reading it. Therefore, if an issue arises, the resolving process can be long and cumbersome. Additionally, it can be difficult to schedule calls, and if someone is in the middle of a vital business undertaking, they cannot afford the distraction of a phone ringing.
An Internal team communications tool like slack or zoom may be required to allow workers to contact each other individually or as a team. The more “instant” the form of communication, the better. These online communication tools also allow for multiple communication channels to run at once, such as video, audio, text, screen sharing, and much more.
If you have found that remote management “sweet spot” and everything is working like clockwork, introducing a new team member can be daunting. However, it is a necessary part of work operations and must be done sometimes.
The first thing you will need is a stringent onboarding policy. Consider this a method of easing a new worker into the mix without breaking any perfected cycles of output.
This policy should first cover the hiring process, where an in-depth analysis of the potential team member’s work ethic should be undertaken. It is also necessary to determine whether their personality would clash with existing team members or not. A series of thorough work-life and goal-oriented questions should be written out and gone through.
Once you find the ideal candidate, it is time to ease them in gently. Spend some time showing them the ropes, such as task flows, schedules, and an overview of all the apps/systems they will be using.
Lack of work-life balance
There is no one size fits all routine when it comes to working from home. Some workers can transition seamlessly into the remote work lifestyle and maintain productivity, while others do not. This can lead to mismatched work-paces that can create frustration and even hostility among workers, especially if they collaborate on a task or project.
Furthermore, if output slows due to an unmotivated or exhausted team member, the company and your reputation as a manager could suffer as a result.
So, it is up to you to find ways to promote a healthy work-life balance for your team members.
Performing monthly wellness checks or running an “open door” policy can do wonders for promoting openness within the work environment. Once a more accepting and understanding landscape has been cultivated, a manager could make suggestions for routine changes.
And there you have it, getting started as a remote manager, it is expected that you will run into a few new problems every day. That is all part of the learning process and adapting to this new work-from-home-economy. However, over time, by following the advice above and gaining your footing – you will find your remote manager stride.