It’s natural for managers to wonder about their employees’ productivity levels in a remote work environment. Since the transition from a highly collaborative and supervised office to scattered, private homes, working people have faced a range of obstacles that have impaired or even prevented them from achieving the level of productivity that they and their managers were accustomed to before the pandemic. While this new approach to working can certainly be difficult, it is possible to continue operating at the level of success you enjoyed at the office- provided employees and managers have the right practices and procedures in place that enable everyone to stay accountable and feel supported.
In this post, we’ll cover:
- Defining success for your team in a remote environment
- Creating consistency to build trust
- Reinforcing relationships to help employees grow
Define What Success Means to Your Team
Success has a unique meaning for every team, but it is almost always easier to meet and achieve when everyone involved agrees upon what success looks like. With clear communication being a more crucial component of success than ever before, it’s important for managers to ensure that everyone on their team understands their unique role and responsibility in reaching organizational achievement. Though many companies have been working remote since the pandemic began, now may be a good time to gather your team and revisit (or even introduce) mutually agreed upon parameters and goals that will help employees understand what is expected of them. These parameters can include establishing a range of hours during which all employees are expected to be reachable, being intentional about communicating next steps on a project, or accomplishing more individualized, measurable goals specific to an employee’s job title. By aligning your expectations and goals, everyone on your team will have a clearer picture of how they are to move forward in this novel working environment.
Build Trust Through Consistency and Dependability
Trust between colleagues is one of the most important foundational necessities for a successful team or organization, and it’s especially important to reinforce when employees and managers do not have the chance to interact as a result of working remote. One such way to increase a shared sense of trust is to ensure that you’re communicating and sticking to responsibilities, deadlines, and commitments. Whether you’re an employee or a manager, consistently demonstrating that you’re a dependable worker helps to foster a sense of accountability throughout the organization and provides crucial support to your colleagues and your organization. Building trust in a virtual environment is also about making the extra effort and being transparent. Managers should schedule weekly check-ins with their employees and remind their team that it’s okay to feel unsure and anxious during this time. Colleagues that trust one another in both a personal and a professional capacity are often more productive, leading to better outcomes and a higher level of success.
Working from home for an extended period of time can often lead to employees feeling isolated, siloed, and insecure. These feelings of disconnectedness are stressful for employees and typically affect their productivity levels. Managers should seek out regular opportunities to have meaningful interactions with their employees over video or IM chat and foster a sense of community on their team by reminding employees that they can reach out if they are struggling. Frequently pairing up remote workers on projects or assignments is a great way to promote collaboration between colleagues and alleviate some of those feelings of isolation. Do not underestimate the effect of virtual employee engagement either- hold virtual happy hours, come up with a few fun games during team meetings, or even have virtual lunch together. A little personal connection goes a long way and helps to make this challenging time a little easier for everyone.
Finally, don’t let your remote status prevent you from encouraging and advancing your employees’ talent and career aspirations. As new technology supports an organization’s ability to seek out the best and most qualified candidates, regardless of their home address, companies may find they have to step up their game in order to retain top or burgeoning talent. While an employee’s ambitions are ultimately up to them, their advancement is something that should be regularly discussed. Encourage them to express any future aspirations they might have and make it part of your job to help them achieve those goals- even if it might be a heavier lift in a remote environment.
This shift from office culture to an online environment has been complex and unstable at times, but this shift has also removed boundaries and encouraged new modes of doing business. Managers have an opportunity to capitalize on those new advantages and minimize the negative effects of remote work by keeping the following suggestions in mind:
- Clearly define what success looks like for your team and how it is to be achieved. When each individual member knows what is expected of them and their colleagues, they function at a smoother and faster pace
- Trust is the foundation of success. By reinforcing a strong sense of trust between colleagues through accountability and transparency, managers can expect healthy levels of productivity and employees may experience less stress and uncertainty in their role
- Maintaining relationships is more important than ever now that interaction between team members is limited. Make it a regular priority to check in with employees on how they’re doing, find ways to engage the team as a group, and continue to support your employees’ career aspirations.