Time magazine calls this Coronavirus-19-pandemic “the World’s Largest Work-From-Home Experiment,” but managing remote workers needs preparation. Please remember: A one-size-fits-all response never fits anyone very well.
1. Individualization is key
The best managers work very individualized in coaching and leading their employees.
Managers need to find out under what conditions their team members perform best and what are their individual talents, strengths and concerns about their workflow. Managers with strengths-based leadership have here a huge asset: They can individualize to the person to get the best performance. Since that is different for everyone, Managers need to act as a coach, so they can better predict employees’ reactions to keep promises. They are also aware, when a driving need to complete projects is necessary or if their subordinates need any other motivator.
2. Set expectations early and clearly
About half of all employees — remote or not — don’t know what’s expected of them at work. That’s very scary, so managers must make expectations crystal clear:
– X is the work you should do
– Y is the quality standard
– Z is the deadline
Executives should provide higher-level expectations aligned with the company’s purpose:
– We’ll keep our customers engaged by doing X
– We’ll maintain our standards by doing Y
– We’ll fulfill our mission by doing Z
The more detail, the better. But remember, fulfilling expectations requires equipment and information. Research from University of California Irvine professor Judith Olson found that the most successful remote work situations are those in which workers have similar work styles, know and like each other, have technology that allows them to collaborate, and know how to use that technology. Now’s the time to explore your digital options. That’s how people will meet the expectations you set.
3. Communication is essential
Plan for more conference calls. Managers will have to be diligent about communicating productively– coaching high performance requires frequent conversations, and there won’t be chance conversations in the hall.
But your staff needs to hear from you too, especially to maintain their trust in leadership. Keep the lines of communication open, honest and broad. Send emails or post videos about your reasoning, intentions and expectations. Make it easy for managers to know your thoughts and contribute their own.
4. Support your teams managers
As CEO or owner please give also your leadership team your support, both practical and emotional, during that tough transition. Invest in management development and coaching and be affirming about the situation and understanding about altered deadlines. Just remember, your managers always need to know you have their back — but never more so than when they feel insecure.
Outlook and Future
Many studies show that remote employees are more productive, agile and profitable than in-house employees. So don’t worry — telework can succeed spectacularly. Although your company will have to learn quickly, your people may perform at levels that surprise you. But don’t be surprised if they don’t want to come back to the office.
Gallup research shows that 53% of employees say greater work-life balance and personal wellbeing are “very important” to them. They also state that more and more industries are putting remote work policies in place. Forbes recently reported. “REMOTE WORK becomes the standard operating mode, and a way of New work for a large portion of workers”.
That percentage is about to explode and keep this in mind: While COVID-19 won’t be an issue forever, remote work will be. What you learn about leading a remote workforce now will likely become best practice for your company later on.
Please share this with your bosses😊