How effective is your remote management during lockdown and isolation?

5 weeks in, at least 2 to go, how are we all holding up?

Thinking about it, for me, the last 5 weeks have been a bit of a blur and have passed pretty quickly. Days have seamlessly run into each other with a cycle of ‘get up, coffee, go for a run/PE with Jo Wicks, sit down to work, try to keep up to date with the government guidance of CJRS (thankfully that has settled down now), sourcing snacks for my kids, helping with school work, trying to fit in time for the usual ‘day job’, working later, being bullied into playing on the trampoline, opening wine, planning next days activities for children, sleep, repeat!

No one knows what day it is, or what time it is. I’m grateful for my outlook calendar!

Thankfully I am still working, it’s helping keep me on track, keep me occupied (rather than decorating which my husband is happy about). I miss being in the office though, I miss going ‘out’ to work, I’m bored of my kitchen, I miss my colleagues, there are sometimes weeks when we barely see each other due to workload but this is different.

We are staying in touch regularly, phone calls and video calls plus email and messaging. We’ve received treats in the post and all that is lovely, but I can’t wait to sit around the meeting table eating coffee cake from our local tea shop for our weekly downloads.

Whether you have employees still working, furloughed or a mix of both being a manager has its challenges at the moment. How you react to those challenges will not only have an effect on your employees now but most definitely when they readjust to ‘normal’ work when this is all over.

How do you balance the need for work to be done to maintain your business and the wellbeing of your employees in a time when many people are scared and worried about themselves, their family and their future? How do you stop people becoming unmotivated and disengaged when there is so much else to think about?

Full time home workers are statistically happier than people who never work remotely but there is a reason for that, good remote management!

Staying in touch must be top of the list of priorities for remote management, but you need to make sure you are checking ‘in’ on people not ‘up’ on them. We’ve often heard that there isn’t always the trust in employees to be doing a full days work while they are home, especially in response to a flexible working request. Our answer is always ‘why did you recruit them if you don’t trust them?’. In  the current situation though as a manager you have to accept that work will be done differently, it might be done in pockets in between spellings, times tables, lunch times and refereeing sibling spats or either side of getting some fresh air and exercise. That doesn’t mean that when an email took an hour to be answered or the mobile went to voicemail that your member of staff was slacking off or that they won’t be catching up later in the evening after the day has settled down and the kids have gone bed and it doesn’t mean they won’t be productive.

Of course, part of remote management is measuring workload, performance and productivity. What’s coming up, what’s happening now and what’s been completed. Holding regular one to ones with your employees will help you assess where things are working well and where they aren’t. It will also give an insight into who maybe struggling to adapt to this new situation and what you can do to help them, maybe some time management support or other online training activities.

Having regular individual contact will also help identify any changes in people mental wellness, mental health experts have warned that virus and lockdown related mental illness will be around much longer that the causes themselves so it is vitally important that remote management includes looking after the people not just the business.

Good remote management will also help with the moral of your employees. Working in isolation is new to many people and it can be a hard adjustment if usually a person is used to be in around and bustling team. Arrange all team call, a Monday morning this is what the week holds and a mid week where we are review would help everyone see what is still happening in your business.

It doesn’t even have to be worky, it might be nicer if it’s not. A team coffee break where everyone gets to chat and catch up for 20 minutes, or a team challenge show and tell (baking would be my preference) or end of the week drinks to celebrate making it another week and being one week closer to lockdown ending.

Don’t forget your furloughed staff either, a quick call once a week to see how they are will go a long way when they look back at this time, long after they have come back to work.

One last thing to remember is to be available. If your team feel like they can never get hold of you, they are not going to feel supported and may lose momentum. Maybe you could hold some drops ins… have a video call running for a few hours a day where your team can dial in if they need to speak to you. It’s like a new version of knocking on your office door!

Poor remote management now could cost your business in the future. If you have any concerns with your teams performance or would like any help with managing remote management then get in touch and have a chat with us.

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