For many employers, managing the remote employee isn’t a new or unique challenge, it’s just business as usual. However, for millions of Americans who have moved their own home work environments in the comfort (or not so comfortable spaces at home), it’s a work in progress. In fact, my own spouse is new to the whole work from home arrangement. After working for nearly 12-hours at his desk, he admitted to just how easy it is to get “sucked into work” and “forget about how long I’ve been sitting here.”

The fear from some employers, however, is that the same work ethic that’s employed by their employees in the office won’t be replicated in the home office and production and availability will decrease. Is that your worry? If so, here are some suggestions on boosting effective remote work and encouraging your staff to get creative and maintain virtual contact.

Maintaining visibility:

Sure, you can’t just stroll by your employee’s office at any given time or have them stop by your desk to ask a question. Visibility is important because employees want to hear from you, and that doesn’t diminish when you can’t be seen. Let go of the old ideal that you must “see” your employee to have assurance they are “working,” That’s not why visibility is important. To be visible is to remain available for questions, to support and listen, to encourage during difficult times.

To keep communication lines open, schedule calls, video or group chats to connect and get a pulse for the workload. Don’t use it as a means of micromanaging, but to be there for your employee. Remember, this is a new way of working for them, too, and they may need your regular check-in guidance.

Keeping teamwork alive when social distancing:

One of the creative and fun ways to keep the team connected is through Virtual Happy Hours. Schedule a video conference call with your team or group at the end of the work day and celebrate your success for the week. Give a round of cheer to each person on the team for what they accomplished that week.

Flexibility to manage the work:

Employees may not only have to deal with their new working arrangement, but may also have kids at home to contend with. Or spouses, family members or even pets that could compete for their attention. The best way to handle these distractions is allow for as much work schedule flexibility as you can allow. If the employee has young children at home, they may need to work in shorter bursts of time, or wait until nap time to place that call, or may need to complete a project in the evening after typical work hours have ended. Holding to a cookie-cutter approach to work hours during this COVID-19 period may only cause more headache and stress for your employees who are juggling their personal lives and work.

Check in with your employees, find out what barriers exist and talk through solutions to these problems.

As mentioned in Juli Bacon’s book, 100 Lessons to Bring Your Workforce Together, “Employees want to hear from you…be open to new ideas from all levels.”

Do you need help with managing employees remotely or thinking past the old ways of work production and managing through this change? Contact the HR team at JB Consulting Systems for more information on how we can help you manage effectively.