The Covid-19 pandemic has compelled people to work away from colleagues for the first time – and this isolation can be nerve-wrecking! In such times keeping employees distant yet connected is perhaps the most important task managers and leaders are entrusted with. While business policies have been moulded to become more people-centric, with the aim to support their mental as well as physical health in these troubled times, ensuring seamless, productive business continuity to prevent the economy from collapsing also remains imperative. Being proficient at managing remote employees requires a mental leap, especially for traditionally minded managers. Also, Work from home is difficult for employees as well, because they do not feel the organizational climate at home and lack of concentration due to frequent invasion of family members gives rise to work–life conflict. Under such circumstances, ensuring employee commitment does picture as a herculean task! Fortunately, there are specific, research-based steps that managers can take to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.
- To lead a remote team well, managers need to loosen their reins a little while finding ways to continue to hold employees accountable. For this, it is important that managers and leaders should adopt an empathetic approach and understand the common challenges faced by employees; from isolation to distractions to lack of face-to-face supervision. Managers must be willing to recalibrate how they lead their people.
- With the rapid digitalization in place , employees may feel out of sorts in the beginning, as they adjust to significant shifts in their work mode. Managers must help employees to grasp what telecommuting is, by encouraging them to experiment with the technology at hand and also re-skill or up-skill themselves if required. A new course aimed at improving capabilities will keep employees motivated thereby ensuring higher rates of efficiency and productivity from them.
- Everything now revolves around gaining technology prowess and being humane simultaneously. Managers can support remote workers with regular, structured check-ins; but also allow opportunities for social interactions virtually and be a part of these interactions themselves too. Providing several different communication technology options like email, video calls and conferencing will help employees to connect using one or the other. Also, making way for some ‘moments’ of merriment will only ensure that employees still feel connected and this can easily be done through video calls which are also particularly useful for complex or sensitive conversations, as it feels more personal than written or audio-only communications.
- Constant emotional support and encouragement can improve employee commitment by leaps and bounds; especially while working remotely. Acknowledging efforts through announcements, bonus or even special ‘prizes’ will aid in making employees feel valued and important. Also, making lee-ways for employees battling a personal crisis and supporting them to overcome the same will stand you in good stead. All of this in turn will boost employee productivity and loyalty towards the organization.
- Focusing on what gets done, in how much time and whether it meets well-defined quality standards is also crucial for business continuity and customer satisfaction. Therefore, in order to ensure that your workforce is committed to their task, setting rules and establishing deadlines is also necessary.