While work-from-home has been a growing career trend over the last few years, many employers are still used to a traditional office-based environment. As businesses big and small adapt to operating amid social distancing, remote working has quickly become the new normal. COVID-19 has upheaved offices nationwide, and the work-from-home lifestyle is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

With little time to prepare, adjusting to this new dynamic might seem scary, but with a few best practices, you can effectively manage remote employees, improve productivity, and set the team on a path toward success. Here are 5 tips for managing remote employees while maintaining your sanity. 

Managing Remote Employees

1. Communicate. A lot.

Communication is key in any work environment, especially when working remotely. One barrier to working from home while managing remote employees is that individuals tend to feel isolated and out-of-the-loop after long periods.

Open and frequent communication will create a space for collaboration and allow your teams to be more productive and informed. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study reported that 46% of respondents said the best managers checked in frequently and regularly with remote employees.

2. Help workers establish a routine

While working remotely, especially in the isolated conditions we are facing today, it is easy to become demotivated and sluggish. Developing a routine to balance work activity with personal time is key to mitigating sloth syndrome.

Right out the gate, establish expected work hours with the team so everyone is aligned. Consider starting each morning by connecting via phone, video chat, or email, and ensure that meetings follow a regular schedule.

For example, use Mondays to review strategy, delegate tasks, and set up an action list for the week. On Thursdays, review the status of projects and address any outstanding items.

3. Use technology to fill the gaps

Technology is your best friend when adjusting to a remote lifestyle. Again, isolation hinders productivity and motivation, so use technology to bring the team together.

Whether you plan on using the all-new Google Meet, Microsoft teams, Skype, or Zoom, there are plenty of opportunities to conduct meetings via video chat. Emulating face-to-face interaction will keep the team connected and boost collaborative work.

There are several tools to manage remote employees. On the same note, using a digital project management tool like Slack will relieve some of the stress felt by not knowing where projects stand.

Managers can breathe easy knowing that action items are moving, and team members can proactively communicate their efforts quickly and easily.

4. Provide clear and comprehensive direction

Clarity is not always easy to achieve when working apart. While managing employees who work from home, managers need to take an extra step to communicate their expectations clearly, so employees are receptive.

Emails do not always do the job justice. Follow up by scheduling time on the calendar to talk via phone or video chat to reinforce points listed in the email.

When employees are clear on direction and expectations, you’ll save time going back and forth on edits and changes and be more successful working at a distance.

5. Remind your team to practice self-care

“People that look after themselves [and practice self-care] do have better cognitive ability. They do have better focus and they do have better concentration,” says Dr. Russell Thackeray, a licensed clinical psychologist who consults on the topic of productivity, shared with Trello. “They tend to actually produce more.”

Encouraging self-care—like exercise, sleep, and mindfulness—will not only help your employees feel happier but also have a positive impact on output.self-care guide

So, how can this be implemented among your teams? Consider establishing an exercise challenge, coordinate a group yoga/meditation session, set reminders for regular breaks, or offer stress-management courses. 

Settling into this “new normal” is a constant evolution, especially when it comes to working remotely. With flexibility, continuous communication, and clear expectations, businesses can not only function but also thrive with work-from-home.

Our Self-Care guide is designed to help you re-calibrate and focus on investing in you.  Check out the guide and see what ways you can help your employees with our T.A.P. method. Lots of people talk about self-care but take things a step further by helping your employees really implement these great practices.

How are you managing remote employees during this season? What are some of your best practices?