5 Tips for Managing Remote Workers
COVID-19. It could end up being the single biggest cause for a massive uptake in flexible and remote working practices.
With the increasingly restrictive orders being made by Government, many businesses have been forced to close their doors to the public. This restriction is fostering innovative practices, and also a mad rush to implement working from home arrangements.
However, implementing working from home isn’t as simple as just sending your staff home with a computer and a remote access password.
If you are looking at asking your employees to work from home, then here’s 5 tips to help you make it a successful transition.
1. Have a written policy.
Working remotely, especially from home, throws up a multitude of issues. As always, it’s best to address them before a new arrangement starts to avoid conflict down the track.
Working from home policies should cover 3 broad areas:
- Tools and equipment
Write out a list of what’s needed, and who is providing and paying for it.
- Occupational safety and health requirements
Consider the employee’s physical and mental safety in the home environment (eg. Ergonomic workstations and communication protocols).
- Confidentiality and security
Things to consider here include cyber security risks and document protocols.
If you’d like more information about what to include in a written policy, you can watch this video https://3dhrlegal.com.au/workingfromhome/.
2. Keep in touch.
One of the most common reasons that remote work arrangements fail is an employer feeling like they don’t know what an employee is doing, and employees feeling disconnected and lonely.
But managing a remote worker is not much different to managing the employee sitting in the office next to you with their door closed all day. Consider ways to keep connected and plan these times in advance. For example, daily team meetings, or regular email reports regarding work completed or still in progress. Some enterprising businesses are already implementing virtual “Friday night drinks” using video technology and a BYO policy for drinks and nibbles.
3. Use technology. Closely linked to the need to keep in touch, it’s important to assess what technology is available to enable a remote employee to work productively, and to stay connected with the broader team.
This might include cloud based systems, email, video conferencing, messaging tools like Slack/Teams/Whatsapp/Voxer.
Take a look around at the capabilities within your existing databases and software systems before you get too excited about searching for the “best” team communication tools.
Most tools can do what is required. The key to success is making sure that all of your team members know how to use them, and that they are actively encouraged to do so.
4. Set clear expectations. This isn’t really a requirement just for staff working remotely. However, it is an important reminder. Whenever you are managing staff – wherever located – it is important to make sure you have set clear expectations around work performance, and you monitor performance.
For example, are you expecting the same level of output as the employee produces while in the office? (You might find output increases!) Are you expecting the same number of hour of work to be performed? Or perhaps hours are decreasing to accommodate personal needs of the employee or business downturn?
Also – have you and the employee agreed how long this arrangement is in place for? Is it just while we see out the coronavirus crisis? Or until government shut downs are lifted? Who has the ability (and when) to make changes?
Set your expectations upfront and in writing with a simple letter clarifying the changes to the employee’s contract of employment.
5. Encourage employees to switch off. It is very easy when working remotely, especially from home, to feel “on” all the time. This is a recipe for disaster as employees will burn out and it could lead to workers compensation claims.
So when setting expectations, encourage and assist your employees to set boundaries around work times. For example, is it OK for employees to work in the evening if they are caring for children during the day? Or perhaps the employees work best really early in the morning?
Consider whether you can accommodate these personal preferences whilst also establishing a work culture that encourages time off to unwind and refresh.
If you need help implementing a working from home arrangement in your workplace, please get in touch with Jo Alilovic.