In our recent guide to managing a newly remote workforce, we provided tips and tactics for bosses and company leaders looking to manage their suddenly far-flung teams. We offered guidance for certain groups, like employees with kids and employees who are sick. But there’s one question we didn’t address:
How do you manage employees who are not well-suited to telework?
Not everyone has the temperament or skillset necessary to succeed when working from home. But telework has now become widespread whether we like it or not. How can employers best support the employees who have the hardest time in this situation?
Research from Baylor University suggests that emotional stability and autonomy levels are crucial indicators of success in a remote working situation. In other words, workers with high levels of autonomy (those who can self-manage effectively) and high emotional stability are the most successful in remote working situations. For employees who are weaker in these areas, managers need to be prepared to step in with additional support and oversight.
Clear, frequent communication is vital.
Of course, managers need to check in with all employees at least once a day, but some employees may need more frequent communication. The Harvard Business Review (HBR) recommends that managers set clear expectations “for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for their teams.” Moreover, managers need to make clear that employees can reach out to them at any time.
Keep employee mental health in mind.
Part of the issue with emotional stability and strain is that some employees are more liable to suffer from stress-related disengagement and productivity lapses. Managers should take steps to facilitate a sense of social connection between employees, including spending time in video calls just catching up. HBR even recommends occasional “virtual pizza parties” where pizzas delivered to all team members at the time of a shared video conference.
Help employees to manage themselves more effectively.
Some employees are more likely to procrastinate, fall prey to distractions, or fail to manage their time properly. Managers need to work closely with these employees to set clear performance expectations and establish achievable daily goals. A strong dose of patience is required as well. Remember, many of the employees struggling under these conditions would themselves prefer to return to the office; they didn’t choose this working situation. It might help to give employees something to work toward – a positive outcome to pursue – through incentive programs.
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