During the coronavirus pandemic, many employees have been asked to work remotely from home for the first time. If you are a manager or an employer who has never done this before, getting a team together while working remotely can be a new challenge that seems daunting. However, it does not have to be. You can manage teams remotely while keeping yourself at peace and maximizing productivity.
Below are some tips on managing remote teams that stress the importance of self-care while working remotely from home.
- Take it easy for you and your team. Some days you will feel less motivated and days when you are at your best. These are normal and all part of the big leap to remote work. Give yourself and your team some slack while you get used to the transition.
- Dress for work. Though it is tempting to roll out of bed with pajamas on and do your work, do not fall into that habit. It will make you feel better and more productive if you dress the part.
- Eliminate distractions. Use a white noise app or machine to help reduce possible distractions and noise in your work spot. This is also amazing for stress reduction.
- Understand your company policies. Your Human Resources department most likely has a full set of standards, procedures, and guidelines for working remotely. Now would be the time to read it and know the expectations you are under.
- Protect your and your team’s time. Many employers fear that their employees will lounge about at home and not focus on the tasks at hand, when in fact, the opposite is usually true. Remote employees actually log in more hours when working from home because it is technically more difficult to “leave” work, as they are already at home. To avoid this, set concrete office hours with all team members and stick to these.
- Make sure everyone protects their workspaces. You must talk to family members and roommates about the need for privacy and respect during working hours. As adorable as children and pets can be, they have to be out of your team’s sight to reduce distractions during work hours.
- Encourage your team to be particular with ergonomics. Be kind to your bodies by using the most comfortable chair with good back support. Invest in hands-free headsets or ask everyone to at least put in earbuds during long calls. Slouching in an uncomfortable chair for long periods with a phone up to your ear does not set the body up for success later.
- Set a time to rest your mind. One helpful strategy to do this is to set the alarm clock for meditation time to free up your brain from the loads it carries. This will refresh you into thinking more clearly about the tasks you need to accomplish.
- Have your lunch and tea breaks. Go ahead and take your scheduled lunch break or tea time for at least thirty minutes away from your workspace to break up the day.
- Stretch your legs. Walk around the house while you talk on the phone. Move and stretch every hour or so to revitalize your senses. This will help maximize your productivity when working from home, and keep your body healthy even if you are feeling cooped up.
- Keep casual conversation habits. If you usually have a quick, fun chat in the morning or before a meeting, keep on doing just that. Maintaining those rituals and relationships can help retain a sense of normalcy in the long run.
- If you are a manager, let your team know how to best reach you. Set clear productivity and communication expectations in this new environment. Tell them how best to contact you, be it via email, call, text message, instant messaging (IM), Slack, Zoom, etc.
- Communicate when it is an excellent time to reach you. Are you looking for daily morning updates or weekly emails about what the team has been up to? When you let your team know exactly what you are looking for communication-wise, confusion is less likely to happen because you are all aligned.
- Connect with everyone on your team about job expectations and work priorities. Will everyone be working the same work hours? What projects will move forward this time? It is vital that your team does not have to make assumptions, but instead, is given clear answers to questions they may have.
- Track your progress on projects. Sending daily emails with a list of accomplishments can help in checking if the team is on track or not. It is important to always clear up with your team on where you are on tasks due and the next steps needed to achieve your longer-term goals.
- Resolve significant issues with a phone call. Misunderstandings can happen with written communication like emails and chats. When there is a critical issue, it is much better to talk it out over a call.
- Be prompt in your responses. This covers emails, phone calls, and voicemails. People are much more mindful of time when working remotely. If you don’t respond, some teammates might picture you at home, just sitting and ignoring their communication, even if this is not the case. If your teammates are pushy about replies, talk to them to set the expectations about timelines right.
- When in doubt, overcommunicate. If you question whether your teammates would want to know something, just share it with them. It is better to overcommunicate than to fumble upon issues stemming from miscommunication.
- Check-in one-one-one with your teammates. Even one-to-two minute conversations with the team can make them feel valued and more connected. Send funny, work-appropriate GIFs and memes or encourage volunteering online for a charity. These can help ease loneliness and keep everyone in touch.
- Make your own video studio at home. Create your video conference studio with a plain professional background. Ensure that you have proper lighting and a good sound when on camera.
- Use video conferencing, even if it feels uncomfortable for your team. Human interaction is vital to well-being and productivity. Seeing other people at least in videos, for now, can help manage feelings of isolation during this uncertain time.
- File share! If you are not yet using file-sharing services like Google Docs or Dropbox to share files, now would be a great time to start. Consolidate files through these platforms to have them organized.
- Feedback is key. Ask for regular feedback from your team about how the situation is going for them. This will help you know how to best proceed with this arrangement in the future.
The “new normal” may be challenging. However, with teams helping each other out in making the necessary adjustments, the challenges of remote work can be easier to overcome one day at a time.
As one of the nation's top staffing agencies, Infinity Consulting Solutions (ICS) delivers flexible staffing solutions to companies and organizations of all sizes. If you are looking for employees during this time, contact us today.