Helping Teams Stay Productive in the New Normal. The pandemic has changed the way the global workforce functions. It has upended offices and companies around the world, pushing them to adopt remote work set-ups to keep business going. In the UK alone, the number of workers operating exclusively from home rose from 21% to 24%. All in all, about 60% of the UK’s adult population is working from home due to the lockdown and social distancing mandates. This practice will likely remain even post-pandemic.
This digital revolution calls for new approaches to work. With so much going on in the world, staying productive has become a challenge – and it’s up to leaders to cultivate this new culture and help teams stay on track.
Keeping workers engaged happens to be one of the biggest difficulties in managing a remote team. True enough, a feature on the gig economy by Verizon Connect notes that freelancers and remote workers are more prone to feeling disengaged from their work. This lack of engagement can directly impact their performance, leading to lower productivity rates and customer satisfaction.
If you have little experience in working remotely, then you may have had to adapt to new challenges that previously had not been a consideration. As keeping employees motivated, included, and focused is a huge task, here are some tips that can help:
Maintain open communication
When it comes to communication, email alone is insufficient. Thanks to technology, remote workers are afforded tools like video conferencing and instant messaging, making collaboration a breeze. But Harvard Business Review recommends establishing rules of engagement to set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal time in which to communicate between your team.
For instance, you can encourage using video chat for daily check-in meetings, but use instant messaging apps for urgent matters. It’s also best to keep tabs on communication among team members to ensure that they are sharing information as needed.
Have non-work activities to keep employees engaged
Of course, no one will be productive if they’re working all the time. Burnout, loneliness, and isolation are prevalent among remote workers, so it’s recommended to provide outlets for your team members to connect and build a stronger rapport. Make it a point to offer avenues where they can interact away from work, like creating channels in your messaging apps for casual conversations, or leaving time at the beginning or end of calls for non-work-related topics. You can also introduce initiatives like virtual happy hours and office parties, and while these are done remotely, it can help alleviate isolation by promoting a sense of belonging.
Regardless of whether you’re managing a remote team or not, micromanaging is a big no-no. It’s especially frowned upon in a work-from-home environment, where trust is a significant factor. Inc. points out that while craving control is understandable given the current climate, micromanaging has always been proven to cause more problems than it solves in the long run. As a manager, you only want your team to perform to their best, but it’s also important to focus on the big picture. Instead of clinging to the tiny details, delegate the review process to low-level managers and instil trust in your staff that they’ll be able to handle day-to-day operations. This way, you can tackle other essential matters and still make your team accountable.
Use tech tools wisely
With the majority of the global workforce working away from a traditional desk, it would be best if you provided your team with tools that they can access from any device at any time. It’s also vital that you invest in software that makes collaboration seamless, including messaging platforms, task management apps, and video conferencing programs. It doesn’t stop there, of course. You will also need to run through the best practices to use these tools wisely, so you can make the most out of them. For instance, if you’re using a video conferencing app, create guidelines that facilitate discussions so no one person takes up a huge chunk of the call. When you set ground rules, you can expect better collaboration across the board.
For more tips on leading teams and the new normal, check out this article by Judith Germain.