Managing the Newly Distributed Workforce

Woman working from home on laptop.

When the effects of the global pandemic first started to be felt, businesses across the globe made rapid pivots in business processes and models. In many cases, teams that were used to working together in the same office found themselves all working from home, trying to find new ways to connect and stay productive.

By now, you and your employees have surely gotten into a work-from-home groove, establishing routines and finding new solutions to enable your organization to remain productive. That doesn’t mean, however, that there can’t be any room for improvement.

As the country begins to come out from under the shadow of the pandemic and states open piecemeal, it’s become clear that a widespread return to the office won’t be happening in the near future — even as some employees do return to work, others are likely to continue to log in from home. Now is the time to pivot from responding to the crisis to optimizing activities in a new environment. So how can you improve the way you work together and ensure continued success? Here are a few tips:

Lean on communications tools to emphasize transparency & availability

Communication and team collaboration in times like these is critical. In lieu of hallway conversations and in-person meetings - teams should stay in touch with each other through chat, video, and phone calls. Team/group chats (or channels) are also a great way for team members to stay in the loop on projects and collaborate throughout the workday. To be all-encompassing, leaders should be active participants in these forums as well. These small actions can foster greater transparency and aid in establishing an inclusive remote company culture.

Make accountability flexible

You may need to redefine the way you think about—or at least measure—accountability. There are a ton of ongoing variables to consider. Children are home; employees are sharing workspaces with roommates; schedules are not typical, and new priorities are being added. These variables must be considered when determining deadlines. Managers and employees need to communicate early and often to collectively set realistic expectations and goals for projects.

Gain traction through training

Fostering team cohesion, collaboration, and a sense of shared purpose begins with communicating expectations and performance criteria. Spending some time to develop a strong training program gives remote team members the grounding they need to understand what is expected of them not only in performing their responsibilities but in interacting with colleagues.

Be human

This continues to be a challenging time for everyone. As an uneven reopening process continues to roll out across the country, work situations are changing on a daily basis. Even if you open your office, for example, some team members may be uncomfortable with coming back in full-time or will need to stay home with their children. Be understanding of that and try to meet your employee’s needs wherever possible. Managers need to be consistently checking in with their dispersed teams to make sure all is going well and if it isn’t, talk about possible solutions for what they are struggling with.

By continuing to adapt both the company and its leadership to this new way of working, you can create an environment in which all team members, either remote or on-site, feel supported, interact productively, and contribute collectively.

Click here for more advice on how businesses are recovering from the impact of COVID-19.

Workforces are going remote. Get key tips to make the transition.

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