Remote working refers to a work environment where employees are allowed to undertake their tasks from any place, as long as it is within the confines of company policy.
However, remote working comes with its own set of challenges, which have to be addressed by managers, so that remote workers can perform their duties well. Challenges of remote working during covid-19 are even more.
Remote working challenges for managers
Managers are only able to understand the issues of their employees by talking face-to-face. This is not possible in remote working conditions, which could lead to misunderstandings and miscommunication.
Managers in a remote working environment need to make use of appropriate communication channels, like teleconferencing tools, instant messaging systems, and similar.
A manager has to understand the best way to communicate with his remote employees, whether it is through video conferencing or by simply talking on the phone.
He should also ensure that all his employees are notified of this plan before they start working remotely.
2. Team building/socializing
With proper team building and socializing, work will be more efficient and will be stressful for the employees. This helps to improve morale and customer engagement, which has a direct impact on revenue generation. It is also beneficial for the employees, as it reduces the chances of them feeling lonely and isolated from their co-workers.
Having monthly/quarterly team-building events is a good way to create team spirit among employees. This also allows managers to motivate their employees, which helps improve productivity and overall work satisfaction of the employees.
3. Lack of supervision
In a remote working environment, managers have fewer opportunities for monitoring their employees’ progress daily.
In addition, they would not be able to effectively track an employee’s problems, as communication within the team would be less frequent. Supervision is also a good way to get feedback from employees.
To overcome this, managers need to regularly communicate with their remote employees over the phone or through video conferencing. This will help in monitoring their progress daily and would allow them to supervise their work in real-time.
4. Managing conflict
Managers would not be able to resolve conflict in a remote working environment, as they would not be aware of the situation.
This could result in lost business opportunities and customer dissatisfaction. Managers must ensure that there is no room for conflict within their team members and should instead focus on resolving any such issues before they escalate.
Sometimes, conflicts in the team are intentional, and one or two employees try to sabotage others. This can be dealt with by monitoring the behavior of each employee and coming up with rigorous performance metrics for measuring each individual’s contribution to their business.
Managers should conduct performance reviews regularly and note any noticeable changes in an individual’s attitude towards their work.
By doing so, they can identify which employee is creating strife within the team and take appropriate action against them before things get out of hand.
Managers have the responsibility of motivating their employees in remote working situations.
This is not easy, as it would be more challenging to provide a motivating work environment when employees are in a different location in comparison to managers.
Motivation is key to an employee’s performance, and it is, therefore, essential to ensure that employees are motivated.
This can be achieved by implementing innovative ways of motivating the employees, such as team-building events and regularly providing formal feedback.
Managers should build-remote working teams with high-performing individuals with excellent leadership skills who can motivate and manage themselves and others.
They should also implement reward and recognition schemes for employees to incentivize them and show that their work is valued.
6. Handling crisis
In a remote working situation, the manager has no control over the team members as they are not part of his physical location. This can cause problems in instances where there is a crisis. For example, if the team’s office catches fire or is robbed, there would be no way to communicate with them efficiently.
Managers should hire employees who are very responsive in communication and have great leadership skills. This will equip them with the necessary skills required for handling an emergency in their absence.
They should also ensure that their phone numbers are saved on their team members’ phones so that they can contact them at all times.
Establishing a process or Standard operating procedure in terms of crisis will help employees to react appropriately in case of crisis.
Managers have to manage remote working teams whose employees are located in various geographical areas. It would therefore be difficult for managers to get a sense of each individual’s work style and preferences, which is important for managing them efficiently.
Managers should hire employees who have worked before in remote working teams so that they are aware of the challenges they would face daily.
They can also conduct regular meetings to discuss their productivity and performance metrics, which will allow them to learn more about themselves as individuals.
8. Performance Management for remote workers
We need to understand that employees are employed to ensure that the business operations run smoothly and companies can reap the profits that they have forecasted. A company can only operate if it is profitable.
Profitability comes from having a high-performing employee staff. Managers should ensure they are able to derive the performance from the employees even though they are working from home. Otherwise, productivity will suffer and the company will make losses.
Sent KPIs for your employees at the beginning of the year. This should be tracked every month to ensure the employees are delivering on the Key performance Parameters which were set in the beginning. There can also be a reward attached for those employees who perform exceptionally well compared to other employees. This will motivate others also to perform better next time.
The remote working environment poses challenges for managers that need to be addressed regularly. To succeed, Managers have to ensure that there is open communication between employees and themselves through technology tools such as instant messaging apps and video conferencing. They should also familiarize their employees with the working environment and set ground rules for a healthy relationship.