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5 Tips for Managing Telecommuters in a Pandemic

5 Tips for Managing Telecommuters in a Pandemic

Managers around the world are getting a crash course in managing a remote workforce due to Covid-19 and you can expect some growing pains ahead. But like any crisis there are opportunities and new ways of doing things that will emerge. If anything, Covid-19 may have simply accelerated trends in the workplace that were already happening.

Here’s a few management tips to ease those growing pains and help empower your remote workforce.

Quantify and Keep an Eye on Your KPIs

Leaders are familiar with the attention paid towards KPIs such as profit margins, customer acquisition costs and net dollar retention rate. When chosen appropriately KPIs allow us to continuously take pulse of how our company is doing and take action in response. The purpose of performance measurement is ultimately to drive future improvements in performance. Remember, your KPIs tell you what's going on in the areas that determine your business performance. Use your KPIs to set targets for departments and employees throughout your business that will deliver your strategic goals.

Say Goodbye to Micromanagement

With a remote workforce you're forced to let go of any micromanagement tendencies. You simply can't track your people as well. That reality is good for both the manager and the workforce, but many supervisors won't see it that way at first. Remote work means you must trust your people, let them run and get their work done. Your job as a manager is to clear the way so they can complete their missions.

Flexibility is the Way Forward

A remote workforce buys you a lot of flexibility. The downside for remote workers is that the day may never seem to end if they don't follow healthy work habits. The upside is your teams can scale up based on workflow, not a schedule that's dictated by commutes and operating hours. You can use this flexibility to win in the field vs. less nimble competitors.

Communicate Well and Often

The knock-on remote work is that you don't get those chats over coffee and cohesive culture. To replicate that you need to make sure you're visible on Slack, have an open door (messaging) strategy and make use of video conferencing. This communication theme is easier said than done but it needs to be emphasized. Open office hours via video conferencing may be worth a try so your remote team can get adjusted. Also keep in mind that you're never going to be able to communicate enough so always aim for continuous improvement.

Face-to-face meetings usually have a written follow-up so there's a record and less confusion. With a remote team, this best practice is even more important. You’ve got to work harder to make sure people are on the same page.

Trust is Essential

Remote work also means that you need to trust your team. Trust is earned via deliverables and performance, but managers shouldn't start from a position of distrust. Trust your people until proven otherwise.

This trust will be critical due to the distractions that are involved with COVID-19. Schools are closed. Supermarket shelves may be empty. Some workers will be in cities with social distancing restrictions. There will be distractions. Perhaps the biggest distraction will be a never-ending stream of bad headlines and news chatter. You'll have to trust your people to work through the distractions and deliver.

With 30 years of research under our belts, we know it's important to understand the experience employees are having so that we can better know how to enable their success. Never has this been more important than in uncertain times.

We’ve designed several new survey statements to help you better understand employee perceptions, the effectiveness of your communication, and provide some direction about where you may be able to focus your support resources. Download them here.