While a growing trend for years, remote working is now the norm for most of the country due to the coronavirus pandemic. As a building contractor, accustomed to having employees in the office as well as in the field, you’re probably feeling a bit overwhelmed with wondering where your people are and what they’re doing. It’s no doubt managing remote employees can be a challenge, but by implementing the following strategies you can get your team through it.
Provide All the Necessary Resources
First, make sure all your team members have what they need to work from home. Think of everything from a comfortable chair and adequate Wi-Fi connection to software access and a webcam.
If necessary, provide training on things like video conferencing, messaging tools, and project management software.
Set Up Some Ground Rules
You may not need to enforce your business casual dress code while working remotely, but there are some other guidelines you’ll want everyone to follow. A few examples include responding to emails within 24 hours, sending text or instant messages for urgent questions, and sticking to set office hours.
Asking your employees for feedback before writing these rules in stone includes them in the process, makes them feel valued, and makes sure everyone’s needs are covered.
Begin Each Day with a Video Chat
Whether the entire team gathers or you check in with each person individually, begin each day with a face-to-face meeting. Tools like Zoom make this easy. Take this time to see how everyone feels about their workload, set the agenda for the day, and answer questions team members have.
When using video, either for a daily check-in or for other meetings, require your employees to use the video option. Having face-time eliminates misunderstandings and makes the conversation more meaningful for all involved.
Focus on Completion, Not Busy-ness
One of the biggest fears about managing remote employees is that they won’t stay busy. If an employee gets the job done, however, does it really matter what they’re doing every second of the day? Each person’s job, home life, and workload is different. Trust your team and let them figure this out.
Use Project Management & Communication Tools Everyone Can Access
In an office setting, hollering across the way or walking down the hall for a question is easy. Yet when employees are miles apart, getting answers to questions is more challenging.
Consider giving more employees access to your project management tools, calendars, or other accounts that could make their job easier. Also, rather than text messages – which make group chatting cumbersome – consider using a collaborative online business communication platform like Slack. Some communication tools are even free now.
Provide Encouragement and Emotional Support
When working in the office, you can sense when someone is going through a rough time. Whether through body language, facial expressions, or lack of cheer, you can pick up on clues that a person may feel overburdened.
Managing remote employees makes this task harder. You can’t encourage someone if you don’t know what’s going on, so ask. Spend the first few minutes of a conference call in chit chat. Get a pulse for how everyone is handling isolation and what’s going on at home. If you sense a team member could benefit from counseling, make it happen. Does someone need a day off? Suggest it.
Thankfully, we live in an age that makes working from home easier than just a few decades ago. If you’re in charge of managing remote employees, embrace the technology at your disposal and communicate with your team members. You’ll get them through this crisis stronger for it.