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Overcoming the Challenges of Managing a Remote Workforce

A work-from-home setup isn’t new. Close to a quarter of America’s workforce follows this arrangement. But COVID-19 has turned that optional setup into a necessary business continuity plan. Instead of a partial team, you now have your entire team working out of the office. And the minor problems will be exacerbated by this unprecedented situation.

The New Demands

No matter what industry you’re in, productivity is likely to be a primary concern for remote employees. Even your usually high performing workers may begin to show declines in their output. Consider how your team may be finding it challenging to get organized and prioritize their tasks. If they’re parents, your employees may have greater challenges than your young, single workers.

So you may be dealing with gaps in communication. Your company may have the technology and process in place to facilitate video meetings. But if your employees have trouble engaging, none of the techniques would matter. That will affect not only how you interact with your staff but also how your employees share information. What this means for your projects are delays, or worse, mistakes that could cost the company.

Weighing Business Needs Against Employee Well-Being

Woman working remotely

You’ve got a monumental task before you. The usual tools you relied on to secure a good team, from using social media recruitment management software to discover talent to using free software for coders to collaborate, may not be enough. You not only need to get innovative even more but also practice empathy to prevent the long-term effects of working remotely.

Start with the following strategies:

Address poor communication

It’s crucial to stay in touch with your team. You need to find out if anyone is having problems with communication tools or if they lack access to adequate information. Apart from the regular weekly meetings, consider a daily check-in through instant messaging or phone. This check-in should be predictable and consistent, allowing employees to know they’re not isolated.

Clarify roles and establish processes for accountability

Some employees may operate under the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. The tendency is to overlook their responsibilities. A team that isn’t sure about individual roles may deal with the unequal distribution of tasks, so it’s crucial to identify and convey their roles. Set up automated processes, like a project management software, that allows visibility one everyone’s work.

Think about the long-term effects of productivity demands

Although meeting business needs is crucial in a time when commerce is at a virtual standstill, don’t overlook burnout.

The lines, for many employees, have blurred between work and personal life. Several of them struggle to stick within work hours as some tend to do tasks well into the evening. Then there are those late-night emails that pop up. They may not be urgent, but some will feel compelled to respond outside of work hours.

The pressures add to a trying situation, creating the perfect formula for employee burnout.

So implement boundaries:

  • Coordinate and manage the pace of the work
  • Prioritize important tasks
  • Establish rules of engagement (e.g., what tools to use for meetings, what tools to use for urgent concerns, etc.)

Your challenges as a manager have never been more significant. It’s crucial to find a balance between managing productivity and leading a team that’s inspired to work, despite the difficulties.

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