Many organizations around the world have dramatically increased remote working as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chances are, people in your organization are already working from home or about to make that transition. This is a new experience for many and it significantly alters the human experience of work.
What can leaders do to improve the daily employee experience of remote work?
Supporting remote workers is very similar to how good leaders support on-site teams. That said, there are some specific nuances to consider when supporting remote employees. These nuances are even more important for the ‘newly-remote’ who are somewhat disoriented by this experience.
Assess your teams remote collaboration readiness with our 5 minute Leader Evaluation and we will debrief it with you for free.
3 critical ways managers can support remote employees on a daily basis
Based on our High-Performance Index™ research, there are three fundamental things leaders can do to support remote employees:
- Ensure you truly live the organization’s core values
- Ensure people have the communication they need to be successful
- Ensure that people feel respected and included
Ensure you truly live the organization’s core values
It’s not enough to tell people that we value things such as collaboration, communication or respect. Great leaders go beyond posting values on the organization’s website page, and instead model core values in their behaviour. This sets an example for everybody else. This is even more important when there is a sudden shift in the way we work.
If employees see the same values being demonstrated in an environment of high pressure and anxiety will be comforting to employees as they work remotely. How can you authentically demonstrate your organization’s core values, perhaps even more deliberately, in a remote work environment?
Ensure people have the communication they need to be successful
Communication is always a challenge. Effective communication is even more difficult in an environment of remote work. The tone, body language and facial expressions that provide context during in-person meetings are diminished, or missing altogether, in Slack messages or phone calls.
Leaders need to be very deliberate about what they communicate and how they communicate it.
Here are some ways you can improve communication when more of your people are working remotely:
- At the end of each day, think of what new information you learned and have not yet shared. This is especially important in the ever-changing environment we are in at this moment. Send out a daily summary to share your knowledge and keep everyone informed.
- Think about your assumptions about what others know, although they probably don’t. A quick check on these assumptions will improve communication.
- Ask employees where they would like more communication…repeatedly
- Consider adding a quick daily huddle via video conference so that team members are up to speed on wins, challenges and daily priorities of their teammates.
- Make sure you are having regular 1:1s via video conference, not just phone.
- Create a safe environment where all employee questions are welcome and valid
Ensure that people feel respected and included
One of the most important ways people feel respected and included is to show up with presence in meetings and involve employees in the decisions that affect them.
Having regular video 1:1s in an environment of high pressure or anxiety is a great way to show people that they matter and you care. A proper 1:1 meeting helps you ensure the employee is aligned on what the most important work is, especially in a fluid environment where priorities are shifting daily. People appreciate co-creating next steps and providing input on decisions that impact them. 1:1s also give you a chance to check in on employee engagement and help with the unforeseen challenges of working remotely.
During team meetings, it will be important to accommodate the background noise and logistics challenges for employees who find themselves unexpectedly working from home with young children at their feet. How you handle the crying baby in the background will show the team whether you live the value of inclusion.
It will also be important to ensure that everybody is being heard during the meeting. Having everybody’s camera on during video conferences helps, as it is easier to notice a colleague who has something to say but cannot find a break in the discussion.
Do your employees feel supported? We offer a free, 5-minute High-Performance Index Leader Evaluation that assesses how well leaders support their team. It takes five minutes to complete and we will debrief it with you for free. We recommend using this as a benchmark and then using a ‘pulse survey’ each month to assess trends in how well teams are collaborating and whether leaders are supporting their teams.