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Trust in The Time of Corona: Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

Trust in The Time of Corona: Best Practices for Managing Remote Employees

Melanie Drouin, Regional Director and Senior Consultant at Great Place to Work Canada shares her insights on how to manage remote employees effectively.

Working from home a day here and a day there is very different than working from home full-time. And managing teams with some with flexibility can be extremely different than managing a group that is fully working from home. If you hadn’t been preparing for it – and most of us weren’t – you’re probably scrambling to get everything set-up, hoping for the best and expecting some unknowns to crop up.

The good news is that most of the best practices for leading people apply here just as they do in the workplace, you just need to think about them a little differently.

We know that trust is the foundation of positive work cultures. A great workplace is one where “employees trust the people they work for, have pride in what they do, and enjoy the people they work with” and “where you achieve organizational objectives with employees who give their personal best and work together as a team/family – all in an environment of trust”.

That trust, and the specific behaviours that support it, is critical to maintaining employee engagement and peak performance when team members are dispersed.

Building and maintaining trust and camaraderie in the time of Covid-19 is a challenging ask for even the Best Managers. Here are my top tips to ensure your team feels prepared in a time of uncertainty.

1. Make your people your priority:
    a. Have regular check-ins – daily “stand-up meetings” using the webcam, have regular 1-2-1 check-ins, etc.
    b. Leave time at the end of meetings for people to talk about whatever they feel like – ideas & solutions often come from unplanned conversations.
    c. Encourage people to maintain personal connections – make time for catching up and chit-chat on calls
    d. Don’t forget to continue to do the fun stuff! You don’t have to skip the team birthday celebration just because you’re not in the same place – have everyone join a “happy birthday meeting” and bring a treat
2. Set clear expectations:
    a. Balance flexibility with structure. Some people might need some flexibility to take care of loved ones while working from home. With schools and daycares closed parents will need to juggle work with keeping the littles ones entertained. As employers, we need to allow for that. And we also need to ensure the continuity of our business. Being clear about what we expect to get accomplished and when we expect people to be available without interruptions will be important. What that looks like will be different for each organization. For me, it’s having everyone available for a 15-minute team call at 9:00 every morning, delivering all reports to clients on time without error, continuing to respond to customer enquiries within 3 hours and making ourselves available to support our colleagues with a positive attitude.
    b. Provide timely feedback. If something isn’t working, address it immediately, don’t let things fester! It can be tempting to overlook “small” issues during a time of crisis – and this is when you want to run as tight a ship as possible – without micromanaging of course! – to minimize risk.
3. Be responsive:
    a. For people to perform at their best, ensure they have access to information and can get answers they need quickly. Chances are mots of your employees are feeling a bit of a loss of control in their lives at this point, don’t let that translate into feelings of helplessness at work.
    b. Provide channels for remote workers to provide feedback to the organization and act on that feedback. There will be some trial & error in implementing strategies to deal with the current situation, the fastest way to overcome barriers to performance is to gather information from the people facing them.

And that’s it! Easy breezy right? If you need some support or are looking for a sounding board around new practices and policies for the age of Corona, one of our consultants will be happy to help you! Or if you’re looking for some lite inspirational reading for leaders in your organization, check out Trust Rules How the World’s Best Managers Create Great Places To Work.