By Grainger Editorial Staff 6/11/20
The COVID-19 pandemic has reached nearly every corner of the U.S. economy, pushing businesses of all sizes—from small start-ups to Fortune 500 giants—to transition their in-office workforce to function remotely. According to Statista, 20 percent of American adults worked from home in April 2020, a seismic shift that has required managers to implement new communication procedures and measures of success.
In this new normal, office managers should consider the following strategies to streamline remote business operations while ensuring their employees feel supported and valued.
1. Prepare to run a remote team.
Successful companies need well-equipped managers—and that remains even more true for an organization that is operating remotely. HiveDesk, a remote work monitoring company, interviewed 12 business leaders about their approach to remote productivity and how managers can best manage their at-home teams. While every business has its own nuances, two common strategies emerged across the board:
2. Focus on results over hours.
According to Fast Company, productivity can no longer be measured in only hours. While hours worked is still a good metric in some industries—such as phone-based customer service—many teams may have unique goals and objectives with better measures of productivity.
3. Make sure systems can handle the workload.
Many large companies may rely on a virtual private network (VPN) to keep data secure while workers are out of the office. VPN software creates an encrypted connection between the company's network and employee computers. While VPN is an effective tool for a company’s digital security, not all VPNs and company networks are the same.
4. Update continuity plans and procedures.
Managing a remote team might mean rebuilding some processes and procedures from the ground up. Large changes in operations, such as those caused by the 2020 pandemic, may lead to updated details in operating procedures for every role to ensure no critical processes or communications are missed. Even in good times, however, businesses are wise to have plans and process documentation.
5. Ask employees how to best support them.
It’s easy to make a big list of what business leaders want their employees to do in a crisis, but it’s also important to take time to listen to their needs, according to the Society of Human Resources Management.
Nobody knows a worker’s job better than they do. Asking what can be done to support and help them succeed is key when managing remote workers. Leaders can strive to remove some of the challenges of working from home to find a win-win solution for everyone in the organization.
How do you manage remote employees? By communicating productivity guidelines, project due dates and expectations, businesses can stay on schedule no matter where workers do their job, according to the Society for Human Resource Management.
How can I monitor employees that work remotely? Businesses can use software that tracks employees' time, takes screenshots and uses other metrics to monitor remote employee productivity. There are many applications that are effective at time-tracking, according to software rating service Capterra. Using this type of software may cause some workers to be concerned about their privacy, but if monitoring is done correctly it's legal according to Forbes.
How do you motivate remote employees? Keeping employees motivated can be a challenge during a pandemic when employees are working remotely. Communicate and take action to show employees that company leadership cares and is available to support them during this time, says Zendesk. Also, empower workers to make decisions so that they can solve both internal problems and customer concerns quickly and efficiently.
How do I help my employees feel connected? Talk to them. Virtual team meetings allow workers to meet in a community environment. Also, consider hosting more frequent “town hall” style meetings where executives can be present to answer questions and note employee concerns, according to Inc.
The information contained in this article is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This article is not a substitute for review of current applicable government regulations, industry standards, or other standards specific to your business and/or activities and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.