How to Successfully Manage Remote Work Amid COVID-19

By Derek Gallimore,
business.com writer
|
May 03, 2020
Image Credit: ake 1150sb/Getty Images

Making sure you are getting the most out of your remote employees is critical during the current environment.

Remote work has been the norm for many startups for years now. For most companies, in-house employment still helps them manage their workforce better. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions to businesses around the world and forced them to change their operation and work strategies.

This may sound familiar to you, with the set lockdowns forcing you to lay off some of your employees or put them to work from home. You may have also considered business process outsourcing to continue your operations. 

Whether you use remote or outsourced teams, you should learn how to properly manage them through these times. Below are some of the best practices in managing your remote team.

Balance the way you manage your team

Managing your remote team can go into extremes. When you don't manage them properly, you might end up micromanaging or having little to no control.

Regularly supervise them

When you imply too little to no supervision, you lax too much on your team you end up letting them do what they want. This may bring confusion for them in doing their tasks, especially for the first time. As a result, their output may be different from expected or might be delayed.

This is why you need to supervise them regularly. Find time to check up on them, their tasks, and if they experience difficulties in doing it. Use screen monitoring software to help them feel that you are there and available should they have any questions.

Avoid micromanaging

Micromanaging, meanwhile, gives you too much control in supervising your staff. While it is important to check up on them regularly, bugging them every time with reminders and monitoring their activities can wear down their work productivity.

Trust them with their tasks. Give them space to do their work properly and simply track their progress through different tools. Working from home can be challenging since they also need to take care of their family. Also, your workers are not robots. Give them time for their families especially in these times.

Use online tools properly

Online tools are there to help you work with your remote team. Instead of keeping long threads of email for every project, you can have different tools for project management, documentation, and communication. Choose the right tools that are:

  • Easy to use. This is important especially when it is your first time to collaborate online. Choose a tool you and your staff can easily navigate with minimal to no tutorial needed. Asana, for instance, uses a simple checklist system for assigning tasks and tracking your staff’s progress.
  • Accessible to your team. One of the advantages of working remotely is that you can save on resources in working, especially with the abundance of free tools in the market. A paid tool can give you more features, but unless you have the budget to pay for additional subscriptions, you may better explore these free resources.
  • Appropriate for your work. Some employers use Facebook Messenger to communicate with their team. This may be more accessible but it can get your team distracted. Instead, you can use Viber or Hangouts for communication to keep your communications professional as well.

Regularly check for reports

You cannot just depend on your online tools to track their progress. You should check up on the welfare and performance of your employees to find out what’s going on while they're deployed. 

  • Chat with them every day. Set a time where you can talk to your employees one-on-one. You can talk to them at least 30 minutes before they start or end their shift.
  • Set up weekly meetings. Gather your team through a Zoom meeting at least once a week. Have a little chat at first about their conditions then let them prepare their weekly reports.
  • Let them contribute. As a leader, you should value your employees’ feedback. Give them time to share their insights about a project and let them brainstorm through their meeting.

Help them boost their productivity

One of the challenges of working remotely is maintaining the productivity of your team. They may get distracted by household chores, kids, pets, and social media especially since communicating with friends and updating social media feed is one click away. Increase your team’s productivity through these ways:

  • Set a standard check-in. Encourage them to check-in through an app such as Slack or Trello when they start their shift. This helps them kick start their day and make them feel like working in an actual office.
  • Encourage time management. Set an example in managing work hours. Recommend methods such as the Pomodoro technique where employees work on a 25-minute to an hour interval with 10 to 15-minute breaks each. 
  • Encourage setting up a workspace. Share ideas on how they can amp up their workspaces to boost their mood while working. Set up a playlist everyone can listen to. This helps them get going throughout their workday.

Motivate your team

Working from home can be more difficult during these times. The isolation due to extensive lockdowns can affect their motivation at work. An article from Harvard Business Review states that working from home when an employee has no other choice on where to work lowers down motivation drastically. This creates a bigger challenge in managing your team.

You can take these several measures to motivate your staff:

Strengthen your entire operation 

One of the key motivators at work is having a strict process, rule, and procedure. It is important to review your in-house processes, adapt it to your new work setup, and train your employees on how to do their tasks online. Implement your tools to your procedures to keep your workflow smooth. Working remotely can be like working in an office when you get the hang of it.

Delegate challenging yet realistic tasks 

Letting them solve problems while considering their capacity during these times is still possible. Find a balance between the two to set challenging yet realistic tasks for your team. Trim out the non-essential workload they do in the office and retain the essential ones. This helps them get motivated to do more and become more efficient at their work.

Praise and reward a good job

Inspiring them to do a good job is more important during these times. Praise and acknowledge them for a job well done during online meetings. Give them a reward or a little token of appreciation at the end of the month. It may not be a grand one due to the limitations of working from home, but it helps them to do better and make them feel they are appreciated.

Communicate effectively

Lastly, effective communication should be your top priority. Since you cannot talk to each other physically, a simple misinterpretation over chat is a possible hindrance to your team.

  • Use simpler words. Especially when chatting, use simple words to better understand each other. Minimize your jargon and limit it to emails, letters, and other more professional channels.
  • Use appropriate tools. Chats are used for simple and real-time communication. Emails, meanwhile, are more suitable for external clients and higher-level employees.
  • Monitor communications frequently. False information has become more rampant today. Monitor your threads and the updates you send them to prevent misinformation but consider their privacy, too.
Derek’s blend of extensive international business and travel experience means that outsourcing came relatively naturally to him. Derek has been in business over 20 years, outsourcing for over seven years, and has lived in Manila, Philippines – the world’s outsourcing capital – for over three years. He has worked and lived in five countries and worked and traveled through dozens more. Having been in various businesses since 17 years old, Derek is a fully committed entrepreneur. He has founded and bootstrapped two 8-figure businesses, enjoyed fantastic successes, as well as his fair share of challenges. After more than 20 years in business, Derek has now set his sights on disrupting the outsourcing sector. Outsourcing is one of the biggest game-changing opportunities presenting both business, and the world today! Derek is passionate about spreading this message, and encourages as many people to properly investigate the possibilities. Derek firmly believes that outsourcing is a positive force for all. There is some bad press and fear surrounding outsourcing, and Derek would like to confront his head-on. Outsourcing not only democratises opportunity, but it also generates and produces more opportunity. And everyone benefits from this opportunity.
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