Tips for the management and training of teams working remotely.

Planning the next step is the only cure for the disruption we are experiencing from the COVID-19 virus.

It has become commonplace these days for companies to ask employees to work from home in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. In doing so, both management and employees are realizing the challenge they face in maintaining business continuity and success. Likewise, many have to develop new alternative work plans and adjust to changing work demands while preparing for a return to business as usual.

However, there is a long-term risk that working from home will not work successfully if the company or workers are not fully prepared.

Supporting telecommuters

Many companies do not have policies in place for telecommuting and are concerned about engagement, productivity and training of their teams. In these cases they must remember that successful remote work requires more than a laptop and meeting calls, these technological solutions do not equate to teamwork.

Similarly, many workers may encounter other problems during this transition. Like, for example, something as small as a slower Wi-Fi connection at home, or, many might feel overburdened finding it overwhelming to always stay “connected” while working from home.

For this reason, good virtual leadership must be implemented to maintain productive operations and collaboration among everyone, which includes having excellent communication channels and interaction among the entire team.

Now, how should organizations plan to lessen frustrations and keep enthusiasm alive with a team that has become totally remote?

Here are a few brief but effective suggestions:

  • Schedule virtual meetings

    Since teams are spending their days in social isolation, these meetings will help reconnect workers and help them see each other. According to research, 87% of remote team members feel closer to their colleagues when they can use video conferencing. This highlights the importance that, whatever platform we use to communicate, it will improve collaboration between everyone, which translates into greater productivity.

  • Establish real-time communications

    Many companies do not have an established platform other than email to communicate. Slack, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and other real-time communication platforms will make teamwork more immediate and closer. Make sure there is clear communication, because this is critical to success.

  • Make time for small talk

    Maintaining a close relationship with workers will ensure that they do not feel lost during social distancing. Conversations before or after meetings and daily check-ins are a good way to strengthen relationships at work.

  • Be especially flexible at this time

    Recognize that those who work from home at the same time may be caring for children, or sharing their space with another family member, either because they also work remotely or are home sick. Encourage your employees to take breaks for both themselves and their families and adjust their schedules as needed.

Encourage continuous development

In these times of constant change and uncertainty, it is important for managers to understand the value of encouraging their teams to adopt a learning mindset. For when people are taken out of their daily routines, confusion, stress and discouragement can affect many. However, to help employees feel a sense of stability and see that you are investing in their growth, we must guide them on their career paths and connect them with leadership programs. This is key to employee retention, satisfaction and morale. It reminds them how important it is to remain productive while away from the workplace.

But let’s not forget that for this to be effective we must connect them with the tools they need to start making progress. For example, team members who work in the factory and express an interest in management can be given resources to learn more value-added, forward-looking functions. Giving them small, achievable goals will keep them motivated. In general, workers who see their goals as attainable will report greater cognitive, mental and emotional well-being.

During this time when it could be all too easy to feel stuck, helping them actively advance their careers will create momentum and energy in all workers and a new set of leaders with key insight into the day-to-day operations of the company.

Planning the next step is the only cure for the disruption we are experiencing and now is the time to plan for the future of work.