As a business leader, you are there to steer employees and ensure stability, no matter what is occurring. Current events have many, many employees working from home, which means that your business may have gone from a thriving office to a busy online community. If this is the case, then your employees and customers need your leadership now more than ever to steer them to a place of security and balance.
Many businesses operate under normal circumstances with the majority or even all of their employees working from home. Because of this, there are already many technical tools available to help support this transition for you and your company. However, if leading employees working remotely is new to you, we have some leadership techniques that will help to keep your team cohesive and your employees productive.
Leadership Techniques for Remote Workers
Your team of trusted employees was picked by you and those you trust because they are expert in something. Tapping into that expertise may have been easier when social distancing wasn’t the word of the day, but it is still possible to lead your valued team through this moment and into the future. Below are leadership techniques you can use to guide those employees who are working from home to success:
Stay in touch through regular check-ins, meetings, and open communication
There are many ways that you can stay in touch with your team about ongoing tasks, production quotas, touching base, and even talking around the water cooler. In a standard office environment, these are all done in person, but in the age of working from home, the same result can be accomplished with tech tools.
Many businesses use meetings as a tool for teams to check in with each other. Continuing to have these regular meetings is more important than ever to a team working from home. They give employees a chance to coordinate both internally and with other teams, and they allow leadership to stay in touch with everyone.
The format of meetings should not change significantly while your employees work from home. The same type of tasks need to be accomplished; the same ideas need to be hashed out. Trust your employees to stick to the usual agenda and have productive meetings.
- Production systems
If you haven’t established an accessible production system for your employees, now is the time to do so. Online workflow systems like Asana, Flow, SmartSheet, Monday, and others all provide platforms on which tasks can be assigned and tracked, making production smooth and reducing the need for constant check-ins.
However, whether you use a workflow system or a Google spreadsheet, it’s important that you have a task management system that others can see and update in real-time so that you can manage your team effectively.
Many companies have team members do one-on-one meetings or internal huddles that allow them to briefly talk, catch up, and find out what challenges individuals are facing. These are particularly vital in remote work as it’s more difficult for an employee to hash a problem out with their fellow coworker.
Continue to provide ways for employees to speak with each other and help each other.
- Daily emails
Not everyone is the biggest fan of email. However, some leaders find that providing a daily wrap email to their employees is a great way to a) show stability and b) invite vital feedback on changes that have been made.
We also suggest that you send regular (though perhaps not daily) emails to your customers as your business works through this transitional period. Providing more information will help customers understand that your business is continuing to support there needs as usual.
In any normal office there is a certain amount of socializing that occurs. This socializing may feel even more important to employees when social distancing is the new norm. Be sure to provide opportunities and space for employee chats. Some leaders do this through Slack in a “water cooler” channel or something similar.
- Social get-togethers
Many businesses have after-hours parties, classes, and more where employees have a chance to get together and socialize outside of work. While we are all working to maintain social distancing, virtual after-hours gatherings are still possible. Harvard Business Review has some great ideas for helping employees combat social isolation.
One such idea is throwing a virtual pizza party by ordering take out for each attendee and having an hour video chat with everyone. Another idea is a remote office party complete with care packages that everyone opens at the same time. You can also set up a movie night where everyone watches a movie together on their own screens with a videoconference open. Finally, you could create a Webinar or online conference that give a chance to employees to network with customers or other professionals. These can all help to combat social isolation within your company and encourage production during normal work hours.
Providing space and structures where your team can hash things out, track productivity, and socialize is what you have been doing by simply setting up an office space and hiring good managers. All you are doing is taking the company culture you have labored to create and bringing it to a virtual space.
Lead by example
Employees look to leadership for a clear view of company goals, organization, and guidance. As your teams transition from in-office work to working from home, they are looking to you for direction on how best to manage these new circumstances.
There are simple ways you can lead by example while everyone works from home. These include:
- Sharing your goals for the day/week and asking employees to share theirs.
- Treating your work from home like work in the office. For example, you should keep to your usual morning routine, dress for work, and then perhaps take a walk around the block for a breath of fresh air as your “commute.” Then sit down and get to it!
- Setting up your home office desk to replicate your usual office.
- Keep the usual meeting schedule in place.
- Respect the chain of command that is already in place.
- Providing update videos or training videos for employees.
- Connecting with an accountability partner on anything you know that you are usually weak on when working from home. Additionally, you can encourage your employees to do the same thing.
It’s so important to show your employees that you are working with them to make their work from home experience productive. At the end of the day, your team shares your goals and wants to move your business forward, just as you do.
Trust your employees complete their assigned tasks
You have put together a team that you value and want to work with. Just because they are working remotely does not mean that your staff will slack off or fail to work at the same proficiency as they do in the office. While employees work from home, one of the worst things you can do is slow them down with constant reporting and check-ins. Instead, here are a few solutions that will allow you to ensure work is being completed, without micromanaging:
- Set up a task management system that not only assigns tasks but assigns due dates as well. Due dates can be worked out by teams during a morning huddle or internal meeting, but they should take into account the existing workload and the task urgency. They should not be blanketly set by the business owner unless there is a hard due date.
- Ensure usual production and check-in meetings continue to occur as planned. Don’t add additional check-ins throughout every employee’s day, as that makes it impossible to get work done.
- Hire a business coach, talk to a mentor, or work with an accountability partner to ensure your own tasks get completed throughout the day.
Your employees are facing the same remote working challenges you are, so be sure to work with them just as you always have, even if they aren’t in the office with you.
Provide additional support
Employees who work from home need the same support they need in the office. Often this includes tech support, training tools, access to information, and an understanding of how to use the tools provided. There are many ways you can offer this support to home office workers, including:
- Provide access to your tech support team and equip them with any remote support tools they require to do their jobs.
- Pay for additional training on remote tools and ensure all employees participate.
- If you or a team lead are training one employee on something over video conference, record the call and provide the video to other employees as needed.
- Ensure vital information is documented in a searchable database that can be securely accessed remotely.
- Be sure that training information is provided to employees as soon as they get a new tool. This includes both information on how to use the tool and the company standards that you expect them to uphold when using the tool.
You can provide support to your new remote employees in a number of ways. The above are just a few.
As always, Business Success Consulting Group is here to help your business change, adapt, and expand. If you need support as your business makes these company-wide changes contact us today.
On Working Remotely