Managing from a distance: remote work woes

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It’s no secret that the working world has been on a rollercoaster for the last 5 years. During lockdown the majority of the population moved to remote working, and faced upheavals and changes most businesses had not prepared for, but quickly adapted to. So when the British workforce began to return to normality, many people decided to continue working from home. But it’s not always easy to manage employees you can’t interact with face-to-face. Problems will arise, but it’s important to look for solutions to keep your team, wherever they may be, happy and passionate about their job.

Check in from a far

If your employees aren’t in the office, they lose the camaraderie and social aspects of working face-to-face with their colleagues, which can isolate certain members of your staff, and cause stress or low mood. Invest in your employee’s benefits portfolio to make sure they can see first hand that they are a valued member of your team, even when out of the office. Offering an EAP or wellness package can encourage mental health check ins, so that WFH can be seen as a benefit for those who may not always enjoy that environment. Make sure to also adopt an “open door policy”. Ensure that Management and Co-ordinators can be reached via emails, work chats or zoom during certain work hours – as remote staff can’t just pop your head around the door. This style of managing can help remove the fear of staff asking quick questions or reaching out for help on tasks, and improve productivity.

Sing digital praises!

Another way to maintain and encourage your team’s relationships is through team building exercises. But move away from the more traditional and somewhat ‘boring’ exercises that have become a stereotype of the modern workplace. In a recent YouGov poll, 60% of people said that their most recent workplace team building experience was embarrassing, and this will only lead to your remote workforce more likely not to show up, and feel more disconnected from your team. An alternative is encouraging peer-to-peer recognition, which is a quick way for your team to show gratitude between departments and workplaces. Sending fan mail to colleagues will show genuine support, and a company wide ‘pin board’ means management can keep track of those whose praises are being sung. It can be easy to overlook positivity, especially when those doing the work are unseen and unheard, but this encourages WFH staff to be looped in with the goings on in the office, and offer credit where it’s due.

Set personal boundaries

It’s important to remember that remote working just is not the right fit for employees. 30% of people asked in a recent survey have found it difficult separating their home lives from their work lives, which not only can cause unnecessary stress on their work and motivation, but also on their relationships at home. It is important when managing remote employees to encourage separate working and living areas where possible. Make sure that their ‘office’ space is not somewhere they typically relax in, as bringing their work into an environment usually reserved for winding down after their computers have been turned off can disrupt their well needed relaxation, and can turn the space into somewhere that makes them feel anxious or too alert. If this is not possible, it may be time to recall them back to the office. Just like encouraging office staff to go for a walk at lunch time, hybrid work can relieve the pressure of working from home. as it brings your employees into a different environment to reset and refresh.

To improve the working lives of your remote employees it is paramount to be a good listener. Make time to listen to your employees, and unpack how they work in an environment that is different from your own. Take into account those who work full time in the office, too: they may have an insight into changes in their peers you may not see on a day-to-day basis. But also make sure that there is time for social, albeit virtual, interactions. Start zoom calls off with a conversation, and take the time to communicate better. After all, clear communication is what makes or breaks a team; regardless of the distance between them.

To find out more about our employee benefits platform, book a free demo with one of our friendly advisors.

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