Working remotely can be tough for both employees and employers. Many people believe that only the latter face issues. However, the truth is that employees find it hard to adjust too. As one’s home or a coffee shop cannot provide an office environment. Thus, making it hard (at times) for the employees to concentrate. I have experienced both and can tell that both sides struggle to adjust. A few years back, it was as hard to manage my team when I used to work at an IT staffing agency as it was when I established my own business, And here is what I learned.
Tips for Employers
Up the Communication Game
Perhaps the biggest challenge of managing a remote team is the communication gap. Because both employers and employees are not there in the company of each other for the whole day. Which means that they cannot resolve any issues in person. This also implies that it might be hard for an employer or employee to reach out to the other at times. As within an office, both are just a cabin away from each other.
But this should not stop employers as well as employees from communicating effectively. Instead, there should be ways in which a company should make it easy for its employees to reach out to each other. And this is not a problem in today’s age as many platforms allow team meetings, video chats as well as audio chats. For example, Slack, Zoom, and Skype.
Feeling Left Out
Your company will have some on-site employees as well. And it becomes even more important for you to take care of the remote employees if this is the case. As remote workers can often feel left out if they are not a part of in-office celebrations or events. For example, celebrating an employee’s promotion. The remote workers are not to be blamed for this as the feeling is mutual among many.
However, employers should address this concern as well. For example, the heads can have 1 on 1 session with remote workers every week. Or off-site employees should be a part of all the office events. Employers should also make a conscious effort to increase the interaction between off-site and on-site employees.
Use Emoticons and GIFs
This might sound funny but trust me when I say that it helps. Because much of the employers’ communication with remote employees is non-verbal. This means that the employees cannot see when you are saying something to them. And if you do not take help from emoticons or GIFs, you might as well convey the wrong tone to your employees.
Therefore, from wishing someone good luck to appreciating his work, you should make use of emoticons to break any type of news to the employees. And this is not limited to news alone. You should use emoticons while sending them tasks or any other messages as well. This will help ensure that you are not in a bad mood.
Add People on Call
If you are having a meeting with your on-site employees and are seated in a meeting room, you might as well make a video call to off-site workers. In this way, they will feel like an integral part of the meeting as well. Moreover, you will not have to explain everything to them from scratch. So, this is a win-win situation for both.
Working remotely does not imply that you disconnect yourself from the outside world completely. Remote workers have to make a conscious effort to connect with people. Most importantly their coworkers. So, try scheduling coffee meetings with your colleagues even if it is over a video call as often as you can. Other than that, you should always have a video chat room where team members can get on to discuss issues.
Apart from work, it is also essential that you indulge in normal talks with your employer as well as other colleagues. For example, you can initiate the idea of having a weekly video call where all you guys do is discuss sports, vacation plans, weather, or anything that you fancy but work. This will help you be close to your teammates as well as your bosses.
Setting a Functional Work Space
If you fancy working from home, then you should also make the necessary arrangements. This means that you cannot work from the comfort of your couch. Instead, you should dedicate a corner or a room for your work. This will help to create the office ambiance even when you are home. Many people think that this does not hold importance. However, they fail to realize that if they continue to operate from a comfortable environment, they will become lazy and not work efficiently.
Therefore, have a workstation at home too. You do not need to invest a lot to create one either. All you would need is a work desk, a laptop (that you would already have), a comfortable chair, and a steady internet connection.
Blazing Fast Internet
Apart from a steady connection, you also need a fast one. Because your employers will not entertain your Internet downtime or low-speed issues that often. So, you will have to make the proper arrangements. Therefore, research about the best and the fastest Internet service providers in your area. If need be, ask your friends and colleagues as well. And do not compromise on this aspect. Because if you think that you will be able to get away with slow speed Internet, you are wrong. It can cost you your job.
Minimization of Distractions
Working from home can be unproductive if you do not avoid the distractions. And there are many. Because you are not alone in your place. Even if you live alone, the ringing of the doorbell can be a distraction as well. Therefore, you will have to think of ways in which you can keep them to a minimum. Because once a person gets distracted, it becomes difficult to return to work with the same level of concentration. Thus, affecting the workflow as well as the quality of work.
However, it is not tough to keep yourself away from the distracting factors either. One simple way is to invest in noise-canceling headphones. Other than that, you can also inform people about your working hours and request them to not visit you or call you during that time. I am sure no one will get offended.
Many of my friends working for an engineering staffing agency operate from home. However, their friends and family know about their working hours. So, none of us contacts them during those hours. You too have to set boundaries as no one else will do it for you.