South Florida is home to around 200,000 small businesses — 82,000 of them are in the Miami-Dade County area alone — and they’ve fueled consistent economic growth in the area for the past decade. So when the coronavirus pandemic hit, it became imperative for these enterprises to find creative ways to stay productive through quarantine. One such creative solution: remote work setups.
For many businesses deploying remote teams, it’s becoming apparent that managing remote workers isn’t as easy as managing them in-office. So we’ve compiled a list of tips for you to maximize the opportunities of work from home arrangements.
1. Equip your employees to succeed
Your employees can’t perform without the right tools, so make sure to arm them with what they need to be able to churn out deliverables at the pace and quality your business needs. For example, do they have adequate cameras and microphones should you require regular teleconferencing?
Employee feedback is valuable in helping you shape your equipment planning and deployment strategy. Their needs might not just be in the form of hardware but also in the form of software and ancillary tools, like a reliable internet connection, socket adaptors, cabling, and the like. Make sure to communicate with your staff to find out their critical needs to work effectively from home.
Providing them with all the tools and support they need may cause anxiety for many managers, especially since budget is always a consideration. But keep in mind that affording your staff with necessities will increase their productivity as well as help keep their morale up.
2. Be on the lookout for your workers’ well-being
With travels from bedroom to work desk evaporating into micro-commutes, many workers are struggling to leave personal time for themselves to both mentally prepare for work and unwind after a long day. Many remote employees may not have enough space in their homes to partition off as an “office,” leaving them vulnerable to domestic distractions such as family members, pets, and the like.
It pays to lead with empathy, especially in times like these. Check on your remote staff and have wellness resources available should they need it. These may be in the form of a phone- or chat-based mental health professional, or even something as simple as an hour of non-work teleconferencing so everyone can catch up and use their recharged social batteries.
3. Encourage and promote constant communication
Communication is critical in remote work arrangements. You and your employees won’t be equipped with the same volume of visual and aural cues you’d normally have working together in the office, so now is the time to learn how to verbalize needs properly.
Regular communication will help keep your staff all on the same page, and it will provide you with the visibility you need to address needs and make decisions. Implement policies such as end-of-week remote working reports and regular sync-ups between teams to make sure output stays cohesive and well-made. And keep in mind that good communication does not just appear out of thin air: it starts from the top. Being the most consistent communicator in the organization will empower all your staff to do the same, and it’ll help make sure they approach their tasks with clarity and decisiveness.
4. Trust your employees
Empower your employees by trusting them to do their jobs. You’ve already supplied them with all the tools to succeed and deployed communication policies; the best thing to do is to watch them from a healthy distance and see them accomplish business goals. According to a 2018 study published on Harvard Business Review, empowering leaders had more creative and helpful employees. So let your staff go and do their thing, leaving just enough room for them to reach out to you if they need help.
Also, focus on output rather than procedure or profit. Different people accomplish different things differently. Work from home arrangements can draw the best levels of output for certain people, and you should use that to your advantage.
5. Recognize effort and innovation
Lastly, make sure you celebrate effort and embrace innovation. In most remote work setups, slacking off simply isn’t possible, especially if work success is measured in output. And while your employees may be working comfortably out of the office, it is good to remember that bringing work to their personal spaces can be disruptive, and that they’ve put it in effort to accommodate their professional lives in their homes. So try to have a good look at how your workers made the appropriate adjustments to ensure your business continues to roll.
Never forget that the whole concept of remote work was once only an idea, and one that developed into an innovation. It has allowed companies to be flexible in the face of difficult circumstances, so it is always a good idea to welcome innovative ideas as they arise. You never know what might come next.