Five Tips for Managing a Home Working Team During Coronavirus

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COVID-19 has put the UK in isolation and as a result, businesses with remote working capabilities have been instructed to introduce home working.

This is a difficult reality for many managers, who might have pushed back against working from home over fears of productivity or efficiency. If you are one of those managers – help is at hand! We have five tips to help you manage your team remotely:

1. Expect changes

Home working is much more than a technological change. While the technical challenges are part of it, the reality is that change is coming to every aspect of your operation. Do not go into remote working with the blind belief that you can simply operate as before. Instead, be prepared to accept the reality of a new way of working, and make sure your employees understand that. This will be something to get used to. It is not business as usual, and treating it like it is will only make things unworkable.

2. Set expectations early

With the coming changes, the earlier you set clear expectations, the more control you have over these changes. If possible, sit down with your colleagues while you’re still in the office together. If not, outline them as close to the beginning of your home working plan as is possible. If you want to hear from your employees at regular intervals about specific things, make sure you include regular calls in their calendar.

3. Be strict about timekeeping

Face-to-face meetings can sometimes take more time than necessary and sadly, remote meetings have the potential to be even worse.

Technical issues are understandable. Time miss-management is not. In the office, meetings sometimes start late for reasons like “I just needed to send an email”, “My last call ran long”, or “There was one more form to sign off”. When you share an office space, these little things are seen and understood, but in a remote working environment, it can become much more problematic.

People can’t gently nudge each other along and the work being done becomes less visible when working from home, so it’s much easier for resentments and frustrations to set in. For these reasons, you need your employees to understand the importance of adhering to the clock.

The more comfortable a meeting’s setting, the longer the meeting can last. This is why standing meetings have become a popular office trend to keep the working day moving. Given how much more comfortable people will be in their own homes, it’s good practice to establish a clear end to a meeting. Draft a clear list of what needs to be discussed beforehand, and don’t be afraid to take command of the conversation if it drifts too far off course!

4. Maintain regular contact

In the office, you might be content to leave employees to their own devices to get on with their work. Regular reports on progress could be more disruptive than informative. However, in a remote working situation, expectations need to shift. Little snippets of information that you got regularly in the office will suddenly dry up, and a manager can find themselves left adrift. Updates and follow-ups will need to be more rigorously scheduled.

Explain this to employees gently, or else it can appear as a lack of trust. Make sure your employees know you are not trying to keep tabs on them, but that more rigorous systems are needed to ensure everyone can stay in the loop about outstanding tasks.

5. When the day is over, it’s over

When working from home, the normal wind down and commute home are no longer part of the schedule, which can make it tempting to continue working into the evening. Without the physical aspect of leaving the office, the lines can become blurred, so it’s important that your employees understand your expectations. The more you treat their time respectfully, the greater they will respond and the better they will perform in the working day.

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