The pandemic brought about one of the most dramatic changes in work in the last century: millions of people started or increased how much they worked from home. This trend has since become permanent. Ladders, a company that tracks high-paying professional jobs, found that 20% of high-paying jobs are now remote, up from 4% in 2021. Major companies, especially in the fields of services and tech, such as AirBnB and Fujitsu, have also announced permanent work from home plans for employees.
This means that management teams have, in many cases, had to adapt to managing a fully remote workforce, upending the existing management status quo and introducing multiple new dynamics and challenges to how teams function. Here we’ll look at some of the best tips for adapting to these major changes to maintain team cohesiveness and expected productivity.
1. Set Clear Expectations
In real life, it can be possible to keep your team updated on their tasks on an almost-hourly basis. However, this kind of micro-management is more time-consuming and invasive with remote workers and is excessive in any case. To ensure everyone is staying on track with their deliverables, make very clear outlines of their schedules and priorities. Check-in if it seems necessary but generally work from a mindset that if their work is being completed by the deadline, the job’s getting done.
2. Adapt to Working Models
One of the most attractive features of working from home is that it allows employees to be more flexible with their schedules. While the 9-to-5 grind had been the norm for most of the professional world for decades, people now want to be able to build a better balance in their life. For managers, the key is to focus on outcomes, not the times people work. If productivity is the same and deliverables are delivered, you’re achieving your targets. For example, moving 9 am meetings to 11 am may allow people to drop their children off at school without impacting the team’s work.
3. Secure Your Login Process
A major challenge of remote working, in general, is the strain it puts on enterprise cybersecurity. With a significantly broadened attack surface and employees logging on outside of secure perimeter firewalls, bad actors have ramped up attacks on remote workers, particularly targeting authentication and credential theft. This is a major concern and can put even more stress on remote workers who aren’t necessarily security professionals. The solution is to deploy a secure login process that’s user-friendly but doesn’t compromise on the security assurance it provides to your organizational data and trade secrets.
4. Deploy the Best Tools for Your Work
Remote work is not new, but its scale can impose difficulties, especially for larger teams. Being able to reach individuals to ensure they’re getting the mentoring or oversight they need while also ensuring that the whole team stays on track with tasks is a challenge. Fortunately, there are a wealth of tools, such as Trello, Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams which can help you do that. The key is to actually test and evaluate all of these possible tools to find what works for your style and needs. Don’t be afraid to reassess and change what you’re using if you think another tool might serve you better.
5. Make Network Connections Simple
Similar to the changes in your security posture, working from home can also create obstacles in how your team actually logs in. There can be considerable mixing in what devices (professional and personal) and which networks (home, cellular, public WiFi) are being used. Remembering successions of passwords or repeatedly going through MFA systems can be frustrating for employees. Seek to minimize these obstacles by deploying secure and quick authentication processes within your organization.
6. Check-in and Gather Feedback
One of the biggest changes any manager will notice is how difficult it can be to connect with employees to see how they’re handling specific tasks or work in general. This mentorship is one of the key roles for many managers, and doing so virtually requires greater effort than just dropping by their desk. Therefore, to build up a base relationship, it may pay off to be friendlier in emails to reports rather than being purely professional. This way, if you ask them to have a short chat, it won’t make them worry about their future in the company.
7. Locate and Remove Obstacles
New dynamics in the workplace mean things aren’t done the way they used to be. This can mean that deliverables or project directions that used to get signed off in five minutes in the office now can take upwards of an hour to get off the ground. There are many obstacles that can end up shaving productivity off your team, not necessarily because remote working is slower but because you’re trying to translate in-person practices to a virtual realm. As management, it’s vital to always be on the lookout for these productivity sinks and to be able to come up with the solutions to remove them.
Managing a fully remote workforce can be challenging on many levels, but there are also a number of solutions for making it work. These can range from using the right virtual tools to assist your workload to deploying a secure, yet user-friendly login process that gives employees hassle-free access to your networks that won’t put them at risk.
There are also personal elements that need to be considered, such as how you get the most out of each individual remotely and adapting your team’s tasks to fit a more flexible work schedule. Following the right advice and finding what works for you can create a cohesive team that maintains the productivity your organization has come to expect.