Managing remote workers
Not seeing your team in-person may become more difficult for you and your employees to align priorities as temporary remote work continues. Use this overview of two key challenges as a starting point for planning unique solutions for your team.
Challenge 1: Lack of face-to-face interaction and supervision
This is challenging for both supervisors and their team members. Supervisors may be concerned that their employees won’t work as hard if no one is there to oversee them and employees often feel there is a lack of support from their manager if they aren’t easily accessible. They may start feeling their manager doesn’t really understand what they need, that they have become out of touch, which may lead to the thought that their leader is neither helpful nor supportive.
Solution: Short, structured daily check-in
Daily check-ins are possibly the most important thing you can do. This will give your employees a predictable timeframe in which to consult with you and know that their concerns are being heard. If you're wondering whether a check in every day is necessary, know that it's not as difficult or as time consuming as it may sound. When you’re in the office, you probably talk to your team members every day anyway. Checking in just looks different when you’re remote. Here's how it could look:
- Daily one-on-one calls if your employees work individually or daily team calls if your team is small
- A short timeframe that still gives you a chance to show your support for them and gives them a chance to tell you how they're doing
Challenge 2: Lack of access to information
When employees are newer to remote work, they often find it takes more time and effort to communicate with both their supervisor and colleagues. The way information was shared in the office, such as popping in someone's office, doesn't easily translate to remote work. This not only applies to work-related tasks but also to interpersonal relationships such as the context to know when a colleague is having a more stressful day.
Solution: Several different communication tools, not just email
Using email alone is not good enough for remote work. You could also use:
Use this for smaller meetings or one-on-one conversations to create a more personal feel. For large team meetings, video may not be appropriate as it can become distracting.
Use this for quick interactions or time-sensitive communication that don’t require as much detail. The university provides several technological applications that are useful for this type of communication, like Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Microsoft 365 applications
There are many more Microsoft 365 applications, which are great for productivity and collaboration, provided to you with the university's license.
While all this technology is great for remote work communication, it is extremely important that you establish rules of engagement around the usage — the sooner, the better. Establish new communication patterns for:
- Supervisor-to-employee communications
- Employee-to-employee communications
Talk to your team members about the best time of day and mode of communication that you prefer and in turn discuss with your employees what works best for them and then come to an agreement. For example, for daily check-ins you may use video conferencing, and for more urgent communication you might use instant messaging. If it’s not as urgent but doesn’t require a call, then maybe email is the way to go. It’s also important to ensure your team members are communicating with each other. This will help with information sharing and team collaboration.
Get professional development on this topic
On-demand videos! Each 10-minute video covers an essential topic for supervising remote teams:
- Managing Remote Workers
- Leading Virtual Meetings
- Evaluating Remote Workers' Performance
To watch, login to myUK, click myUK Learning, and use the Find Learning tile to search for "Remote Work Series".