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How to Manage Remote Workers

Posted by Morgan Berna on March 24, 2020
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With many workplaces shifting to remote work there are hurdles to overcome and many helpful apps available. In this article, we will explore the challenges to prepare for, tips for keeping your team productive, and tools available to make remote work effective.


In this Article:

  • Common challenges and how to solve them
  • How to maintain communication
  • How to maintain company culture
  • Tools for working remote

Common challenges with remote work, and how to solve them:

  1. Lack of face-to-face supervision: For employees that thrive with face-to-face supervision, schedule a daily check-in (by video or over chat) to go over their tasks and goals for the day. This can help add structure to their day and set expectations for both parties.

  2. Distractions: The home holds many distractions, from children and pets to chores and entertainment. Aim to have a dedicated work space and a time set-aside to work on house-hold chores after work. If the reason for the remote work is sudden, managers should be aware that employees may be using sub-optimal work-spaces and it may take some time to minimize distractions. 

    If children are home and childcare is not available, here are some tips Michelle Berg of Elevated HR Solutions shared on LinkedIn (she was also featured on this podcast episode):

    - Schedule the day: Schedule the day for both yourself and your child. Mimic a school schedule if it makes things easier, including: time for art, time for math, time for fitness, breaks, etc.

    - Try the Pomodoro Technique: The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method where you work for 25 minutes straight and then take a short break. Try working for 25 minutes and then taking 5 minutes to engage with your children. 

    - Rotate Child Care & Babysitting: Is there anyone else at home that can help with child care? Can you rotate every couple hours? If rotating won't work, is there someone in your neighbourhood who can babysit? 

    - Audiobooks: If you're looking to minimize screen-time, consider putting on an audiobook for your child and letting their imagination run wild. 

  3. Communication hurdles: According to research, having a "lack of mutual knowledge among remote workers translated to a lower willingness to give coworkers the benefit of the doubt in difficult situations." Knowing why someone isn't responding to an e-mail can be easy to see in the office, but from home we lack this context and can get frustrated. *There are tips for maintaining communication further down in this article.

  4. Information accessibility: Do newly remote workers know where to locate necessary information from coworkers? Not knowing can reduce productivity and increase frustration among remote employees.

  5. Social isolation: Loneliness can cause employees to lack a sense of "belonging" to their organization, and has been shown to increase intentions to leave the company. Consider using video meeting software (we linked some options below), or fostering online social activities like a virtual book-club to help employees stay connected.

  6. Schedule changes: Working from home can blur the lines between work-time and home-time. Make it clear what the expectations are for hours of work and don't contact employees outside of these hours unless absolutely necessary. 


How to Maintain Communication while Working Remote:

  • The more the better. Don't be afraid to check-in, ask questions, and let teams know how projects are coming along.

  • Send around your company's remote work policies to ensure everyone is on the same page and knows the expectations. 

  • Establish an order of communication. If someone needs to reach you, is it best for them to call, e-mail, or send an IM? Make sure everyone knows what the communication channels will be and when to use them.

  • Be clear about expectations, including: hours of work, project timelines, and what sort of check-ins employees can expect.

  • Promptly return e-mails and calls, when possible. We are all more aware of time when we're working remotely, and a big delay can lead to misunderstandings. Be clear about your availability, and respond promptly when you can.

How to Maintain Company Culture while Working Remote:

  • Stay aligned with company culture and values in your communication.

  • Take time to chat. If you use a group chat feature, consider adding a "water cooler" or "just for fun" group where people can talk during breaks like they would in an office.

  • Encourage your team to continue their routine and dress professionally for video meetings.

  • Do one-on-one check-ins to see how projects are coming along, how employees are feeling about communication, to reinforce expectations, and to maintain rapport.

  • Ask for feedback. Consider sending around an anonymous survey to ask employees how they are feeling about working remote and what tools would help them succeed. 

Tools for Working Remote:

Here are some tools recommended by companies that offer long-term remote work options:

Project Management:

Team Collaboration:

Productivity:

Feedback:

Time Management:

Videos Calls and Screen Sharing:

Time Converter:

Work-Life Balance:

Note Taking:

Employee Rewards:

Healthcare:

  • Dialogue allows you to  interact with nurses, consult with doctors and nurse practitioners via video and renew your prescriptions from your smartphone or computer. Olympia Benefits is able to offer Dialogue as an additional benefit to companies with a Group HSA. You can sign-up by clicking here.

Keep productivity high by improving workplace emotional intelligence. Learn more in this free eBook:

eBook image that says The Role of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace and download button

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Topics: workplace wellness, emotional intelligence, employee management, communication