You're working from home. Your kids are vying for your attention beneath your desk while you're on an important call. The lines between the office, home, and your kids’ schoolwork have never been so blurred, and we hear you -- it’s no easy feat!
Between the endless inbox ‘pings,’ open internet tabs, and coffee mugs lining your desk, it can be difficult to keep your employees motivated and productive while also navigating your own work.
49% of Canadian employees are seriously considering leaving their current jobs. Once pandemic restrictions ease and the job market regains some strength, you could very well see some of your employees leave your company if they don't feel supported enough in their roles.
So the question is, how can you manage your remote team while being -- quite literally -- in the middle of your home life?
Supervisors are often concerned that their employees are not as efficient from behind a remote screen. Since 70% of an individual’s engagement in their work is driven by their manager, your role in creating a strong remote environment is crucial to keeping your employees excited about their work!
Thankfully, we can help retain and engage your a-players. Take a look at our list of tips for success at managing your at-home employees.
7 Tips to Efficiently Manage Your Remote Team
1. Implement Time Management Tools
Poor time management reduces employee satisfaction and productivity. Some may fail to complete their tasks in a timely manner or altogether, while others may accomplish too much work at once, leading to job dissatisfaction and mental exhaustion.
Time management tools give you full insight on your whole team from home. Tracking apps like Time Doctor help remote teams increase their focus and productivity by providing detailed reports on which websites are being used, and for how long.
Time Doctor empowers your staff to better manage their own time and provides you with a breakdown of how much time is spent on certain projects and clients. This allows you to assess employee engagement by task, eliminate unnecessary meetings, and increase productivity overall.
Bottom line: use time management tools to set realistic expectations for your employees!
2. Limit Distractions
Recommending that your employees log out of Facebook, Instagram, and all other personal social media accounts is a good place to start. The next step is creating a game plan for your day and setting clear boundaries for yourself while ‘at work’ to reduce the chances for other at-home distractions.
Designating separate spaces around the house for work and play is essential. For example, use the desk in your bedroom for work and the couch in your living room for relaxing! This will allow you to mentally connect to the different areas of your home and use your time more efficiently while in each space.
Unanticipated responsibilities at home may occasionally disrupt your employees’ work days, so it’s important to remain flexible, but prepared. Meal prepping your food is a rather self-explanatory practice that can help reduce extra time in the kitchen, and fuel you up for the next part of your day.
3. Increase Communication
Establishing clear communications norms early on brings a sense of consistency and predictability to your remote strategy.
Messaging platforms like Slack or Teams can be used to keep the line of communication between managers and employees open. Throughout the work day, team-mates can post brief messages to specific channels to keep everyone on the same page, as well as to help motivate each other. Daily interactions like these help boost both productivity and morale.
Cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive can be used as access points for individuals to download communications resources and any other shared documents they may need. Having a singular place to store this information makes it easier for employees to complete their tasks in a timely manner, and leaves less room for miscommunication.
On an individual level, your response style, tone, and time taken to reply may differ from your employees, and vice versa. Some prefer brief messages to more detailed ones, or favour messages that use emojis to punctuate their sentences. Regardless of these choices, it's important to remain consistent to avoid miscommunication with your employees.
Another effective way to prevent misunderstandings is to hop on Zoom for a quick video call. Talking to your employees face-to-face -- or should we say screen-to-screen -- replaces email fatigue with a healthy rapport between employees and managers. Regular video calls with calendar reminders is an efficient way to relay information, and increases empathy across your team.
Create a preferred system with your team, and stick to it! For example, send a message on Slack to follow up on a task, and touch base with an employee at the end of the week over a Zoom call. If you use multiple mediums to relay the same information, you may create an uncomfortable and ultimately ineffective work environment for your employees.
4. Provide Insightful Feedback
Feedback goes a long way. According to Gallup research, fully and partially remote employees who report receiving meaningful feedback are more likely to stay engaged in their work than those who do not.
Whether it’s written feedback in a follow up email, or a few minutes on a Zoom call, providing thoughtful feedback after they complete a task shows your employees that you value their work and their time.
Writing out a quick message that highlights their areas of strength and areas for improvement helps individuals to produce their best work. Likewise, employee feedback is helpful for managers to see where their communication strategies may be lacking or could be improved.
This creates intentional space to appreciate your employees and offer guidance for future projects, so that at the end of the day, you see greater company growth.
5. Recognize Your Employees
Taking steps to show appreciation for your employees outside of a pay check can drastically improve their performance and well-being. In 2019, US companies spent more than a fifth of their budgets on wages, yet more than 80% of American employees reported not feeling recognized or rewarded for their work.
Guusto is an employee recognition platform that helps support companies at every level of employment by recognizing hard work and rewarding the results. We help HR professionals create a Culture of Recognition at their workplaces.
It's not enough to reward performance by dangling money and prize incentives for an unknown period of time. Reward an employee immediately after they complete a certain task, so that you have the opportunity to communicate exactly which behaviours they are being rewarded for.
Some rewardable behaviours may include:
- Building a strong relationship with a customer/client
- Completing a long-term project under a budget
- Reaching a sales achievement
- Taking on a new leadership role
- Receiving a promotion
6. Create Opportunities to be Social
Often time, working from home can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Employees may have difficulty re-connecting with each other after the transition to remote work, which will only hinder their performance.
Gallup research shows a strong link between having work friendships and the amount of effort employees put into their roles. For those who have already cultivated relationships with their coworkers back at the office, create a virtual space to chat! Strengthening these bonds will increase trust within your team, and encourage future collaboration.
A virtual happy hour can be your team's time to shine. According to this study by the University of Florida, individuals with more introverted personalities are less apprehensive about communicating online as opposed to offline.
Here are a few team-building exercises that can be done remotely to increase morale:
- Weekly virtual board games or trivia contests
- Question-answer ice breakers before team calls
- Sharing pictures on Slack (meals, favourite books, pets, etc.)
- 1-2 minute team exercise breaks during longer calls
For more ways to get creative with your employees, read our guide on boosting morale and engagement.
7. Promote a Work-Life Balance
Poor work-life balance has a negative impact on employee health and happiness, which in turn makes them feel less motivated to complete their work.
Working long hours in a space where so many personal responsibilities overlap, can lead to feelings of mental exhaustion and burnout, which we've explored before.
The biggest perk of working remotely for your employees is greater flexibility. However, many remote employees have less free time than they expect, and end up sacrificing sleep, eating proper meals, and taking breaks to complete their work on time.
Set and stick to a consistent schedule so your team knows exactly when you can be reached, and when you’ve logged off for the evening. Turn off your notifications after a certain time to help both you and your employees disconnect from your online work.
Encourage your employees to wake up and go to sleep at the same time everyday, and use personal errands to break up the work day if they need a moment away from the computer screen. This will help you refocus while checking off some household chores from your to-do list, or tying up loose ends that would otherwise take up unnecessary mental energy.
At the end of the day, happier and healthier employees translate to higher work performance! A solid work-life balance will aid overall growth for your business, expand your networks, and increase your employer brand.
Working from home has become the new 'normal' for most of us. Having a clear strategy for connecting with your remote team will close any gaps in productivity or work performance created by working separately.
Celebrate what your employees do well and provide support in the face of challenges. Let your team know that you not only appreciate the work they're doing, but that you value them as employees, and as individuals.
We hope this article helps you develop a strong system for recognition and inspire your employees to aim higher, take more risks, and work as a team. If you have any ideas we didn't cover, feel free to share them in the comments below.
Guusto is every HR professional's dream come true. Simple and impactful recognition meets performance and budget tracking, customer rewards, and best of all, a day’s worth of clean drinking water donated for every gift you send.
Get in touch with our team if interested in learning more!
With the holidays just around the corner, it may be a good time to evaluate what's working in your employee recognition program and what's not. There's no better time than now to tie up loose ends and ring in success in the new year!
So, our next blog will explore How to Recognize Your Employees on a Budget. We will cover the following:
- Turning your company's needs into strengths
- Budgeting for a long-term engagement
- Building a Culture of Recognition
Is there something you want to explore further? Leave a comment below or connect with me on LinkedIn.