Managing Remote Employees: How to Support and Engage Your Team

Managing Remote Employees: How to Support and Engage Your Team
  • Financial wellbeing
  • 5 minute read

In these uncertain times, how can companies best manage, support and engage remote teams?

When facing uncertain times, companies can either adjust or collapse. We are currently navigating a global pandemic as well as a recession that could last years. These are unprecedented times, but many organisations across the world have risen to the occasion and adjusted their workplace processes to accommodate remote working. This is how they are keeping business afloat, their employees engaged and the economy moving.

Related: How to protect employee health and wellbeing during coronavirus outbreak

For many companies, this transition to remote working won’t come as a shock. The amount of remote workers in the UK has grown steadily over the years, with companies wholeheartedly embracing the performance and productivity benefits that come as a result of increased flexibility. Before coronavirus hit our nation, it was reported that 1.7 million people said they worked mainly from home. These people will understand the many advantages of working remotely — but they will also be aware of the drawbacks. Remote working isn’t without its innate problems. All too often, employees can feel neglected, mismanaged and isolated from the rest of their team. They may also face increased distractions, along with frustrations resulting from reduced access to certain tools or company information.

Here, we explore tips for managing remote teams, including how to support them, how to engage offsite employees and how to encourage remote employee mental health and financial wellbeing.

1. Hold regular check-ins

Most of us like and even crave, face-to-face interaction. When working remotely, our communication and interaction with our colleagues can be reduced, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Such feelings can have an impact on employee performance and motivation. There are many ways to increase and enhance connections and relationships within your remote organisation. We recommend you start with the one relationship that accounts for 70% variance in employee engagement levels — the one between employee and manager.

Managers should make efforts to hold regular check-ins with their employees. Many experts recommend you hold performance catch-ups weekly or fortnightly. This gives employee and manager the opportunity to discuss performance, obstacles, goals and training. It also allows managers and employees to exchange feedback. When employee and manager meet regularly, meetings become less formal and more open, meaning conversations are ultimately more informative and productive. Employees are also much more likely to open up and discuss what support they might need or how they might be struggling.

Related: Help your employees cope financially throughout COVID-19

2. Set clear expectations and objectives

Employees, remote or not, will suffer in terms of morale and engagement if they are set unrealistic or unclear expectations. From the outset, employees need to know what is expected of them. They need to know what they are doing and how they should be doing it. Unless companies have a solid and clear goal-setting system, they can’t expect work to get done to standard or in time.

There are a number of performance management tools out there that allow companies to create, set and track employee goals. However, these need to be complemented by good communication. Employees need to know they can get in touch with their managers at any time for clarification or concerns regarding goals. And managers need to be proactive about explaining why certain expectations have been laid out, and how the company could be affected if employees don’t play their part.

When employees know what is expected of them and how they can go about accomplishing their goals, they will feel more secure and able to perform their roles. What’s more, if employees work alongside managers to create their own goals, they’ll feel a sense of ownership that will motivate them further.

3. Provide different channels of communication

We’re lucky to live in a time when there are countless channels of communication companies can utilise. Email is one, but email alone isn’t enough to keep your employees connected. Many companies working remotely choose to use communication software that allows for real-time communication, such as Slack. However, it’s also important to prioritise face-to-face communication on occasion, which is why video conferencing software is so crucial. There are many options out there, many of which are completely free.

4. Make use of video conferencing

Sometimes, chatting on Slack or sending an email isn’t enough. So much of communication is non-verbal. When engaging in video conferencing, we are better able to pick up on tone, body language and facial expression, which can prevent issues arising from miscommunication. Video conferencing can also help us to connect with our co-workers and build relationships. It’s much easier to get to know and trust someone when they are more than just a name on a screen.

It’s a good idea to hold regular team meetings using video conferencing software, to keep everyone updated on progress and challenges within the company, while giving employees a chance to catch-up.

5. Encourage employees to maintain a healthy routine

It’s all too easy for remote workers to fall into a bad routine. We might find ourselves rolling out of bed and getting straight to work, forgoing any kind of morning ritual. Or perhaps we might decide to operate really flexibly, not having set working hours. This might sound lovely in theory, but the reality is, most of us are creatures of habit. We crave routine, and we work well with structure.

While it’s not a good idea to demand that employees work a certain way (we all have different productivity rhythms, and it’s best to work with them), it is a good idea to recommend routine. Employees should determine what works for them, bearing in mind their family, their needs and their responsibilities. Maintaining some form of routine will help employees cope with the demands of their jobs, while also helping them mentally separate work from family time.

6. Help employees to be social

Work is important, but so is the social side of things. Employees should have the opportunity to connect and blow off steam with their colleagues. Of course we can’t do this in person, but there are ways to interact with one another that don’t require leaving the house. Set up a water cooler Slack channel or a regular Friday night Google Hangouts session where employees can vent and unwind together. You might even consider setting up a game, or a social quiz to really unite your team.

7. Provide financial education to your employees

As we have already stated, these are uncertain times. Many employees might be feeling the strain financially. Some might be concerned about their future, about the recession and their options. At times like this, financial education is more important than ever. Employees need to feel they are supported, and by supporting employee financial wellbeing, you are demonstrating that they can turn to you for advice and assistance — and for the right tools to help them succeed.

Are you looking to address and improve levels of financial wellbeing within your organisation? Contact Close Brothers today to learn more about our financial education services and support.

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