Managing Remote Employees

July 27, 2020 ProgressionHR

Are you Managing Remote Employees?

If so, how do we make the most of the new normal?

As we all know, COVID-19 has changed the way many of us are now working. We’re getting a lot of feedback from conversations with you all, so this is what we’ve learnt and what we would like to share with you.

Working remotely has both positives and negatives

While “working remotely” has both positives and negatives, Human Resources is often spearheading the response to these changes in many companies. That’s why we believe the role of HR has had to adapt to help employees make the transition to remote working possible, easy and efficient for everybody so we all get the best outcomes.

How technology has helped us

As many Kiwis who could work from home adjusted to remote working, the transition was possible because of technology, the internet, email and online meeting platforms such as Zoom and Facebook. Not only can we have Monday morning WIPs, we can have a relaxing Friday 5pm glass of wine with our teams as we head into the weekend. With all of this in mind, we offer you our thoughts on this new dynamic.

How can we support employees working from home?

As businesses return to their workplaces, it’s likely some employees will want to continue to work remotely, and we believe this is something that should be supported. However, we think some employees will miss the social interaction of being in the office, so we suggest there is a discussion around this with your team. To get you started, we have 8 tips that we believe will help you get optimum results from your remote work teams and keep everyone happy.


1. Equip employees with the tools they need

Do your employees have the technology they need to get the job done? This might be more than just a mobile phone and a laptop. For example, if employees are attending virtual meetings, do they have adequate cameras?

2. Have trust in your employees

Managers need to suspend their disbelief that employees may slack off because they’re not in the office . The need to trust their employees that they will do the right thing — which they will do if employers provide a supportive structure.

3. Remember to communicate your culture

As they work from home, employees will find they organically create a remote team culture. Support this and how it aligns with the organisation’s vision, mission and strategy. Fostering a healthy work culture among remote teams can be challenging, but with the right encouragement, you can build a great culture that your people will embrace and enjoy.

4. Be on the lookout for signs of distress in your employees

While some employees thrive in a remote working environment and find themselves more productive, it can have the opposite effect for others, leaving them feeling lonely and unmotivated. Acknowledge that virtual communications are different — and won’t be perfect — but everyone should still be professional and respectful of others. Use every opportunity to make clear to employees that you support and care for them.

5. Encourage dialogue

Two-way dialogue between managers and employees ensures communication efforts help engagement. Two-way communication with peers provides employees with the information and perspective they need, and enables them to express and process negative emotions and feel more in control about how things are different now.

6. Focus on outputs, not processes

Role definitions may  change during the “new normal”, leaving employees unsure of where to focus. Focus on what employees should be accomplishing. In the remote landscape, where many people are juggling work and family commitments in their own homes, our experience suggests you enable employees to complete their work in ways that are easiest and most productive for them. Emphasizing outputs over process boosts productivity.

7. Increase employee recognition

Because of the lack of face-to-face interactions, companies may forget to recognise and appreciate their employees’ hard work.  Recognising employees’ work even when they are not visible in the office makes them feel valued, and this is one of the easiest ways to keep a workforce motivated. Recognition doesn’t need to be monetary. We all know praise costs nothing but means so much.

8. Have virtual fun regularly

Without fun activities, it’s no surprise remote employees will start to feel disconnected, and this will impact their productivity and morale. Having fun together virtually should be a regular part of your remote work culture. Employees will also be able to build and maintain a better rapport with their peers, and this will develop a successful culture of trust and teamwork among employees. Time for a Friday 5pm Zoom get-together.

Will all these working remote changes become permanent?

Big question. It’s still too early to tell and not all these changes will happen at once. This time has given us the chance to experience different ways of working and some businesses may have seen benefits, where others have only been met with challenges. One thing we can say for certain is that the future of how we work is changing. These are our thoughts based on feedback we have received from our clients. We hope you find the information useful.

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