The pandemic has affected everybody across the world in different ways. Life as we knew it might not resume anytime soon. Experts predict that the ‘new normal’ will see Covid-19 become endemic. It will remain in constant circulation, and our current safety practices must continue to evolve and improve. The pandemic’s influence may linger with us for years.
Despite that, we all have a reason for optimism. Technology has rapidly risen to the challenge and enabled us to make the necessary adjustments. We have seen employers overcome their reluctance to embrace remote working. Teams now find that they can conduct discussions and collaborate using the right platforms. Individuals have similarly harnessed their apps and devices to stay connected with loved ones during a time of crisis.
Technology will continue to evolve and allow people to survive in a changing world. For business leaders who’ve come to rely on remote work, it’s essential to consider how changes will affect your team. This will help give your remote workers an edge. Here are some factors that deserve a closer look.
It isn’t all about the technology
Your business might already have an IP-PBX telephone system and VPN in place to enable full-time remote operations. Employees have been issued their respective devices, maybe even trained in the use of various productivity apps and online communications channels. But meeting the requisite technology specifications is only part of the puzzle when it comes to successful remote working.
Before the pandemic made it necessary for many businesses to adopt remote work or else face closure, recall that a lot of employers were reluctant to accommodate such arrangements. Accustomed to working in a traditional environment, managers foresaw difficulties in overseeing employee productivity and quality of work. Those concerns haven’t really gone away. They’ve merely been set aside by the more urgent need to adapt in the face of pandemic-enforced changes.
Technology gives people the means to do their jobs remotely. Apps can help them to make better use of their time and prioritize tasks without needing in-person reminders from their boss. But employees still need feedback and coaching. This is where you step in as a leader.
Coaching remote workers for improvement
Businesses will always value the continued improvement of their people. Better performance translates to consistently achieving the desired results. And from an employee’s perspective, there are many benefits to receiving good coaching. They get better at the minutiae of their jobs; regular tasks become easier, giving them more free time and a sense of progress. Regular feedback from leadership is a sign that what they do is important. That they matter, too.
The traditional workplace environment provided leaders with constant opportunities to give timely feedback to employees. Contrast that with the challenges of coaching under a full-time remote working arrangement. You can’t suddenly engage employees in informal conversations, give them a pat on the back for a job well done, or pull them aside for a one-on-one regarding their performance.
Coaching your remote workers is an essential task. It doesn’t have to be formal; you can tailor that aspect to suit each relationship. However, you both need to enter the session with definite boundaries as well as targets for discussion. Make room for it in your schedule, and set clear expectations with each individual for subsequent follow-up. Don’t forget to use the appropriate visual platform to minimize the loss of nonverbal cues. This will help you get your message across and encourage a positive response.
A human touch for the remote workplace
Good communication is not only vital for coaching your people; it can be absolutely critical for remote teams to function effectively. With each step further away from face-to-face communication, more information is lost. Body language and facial expressions can be harder to read on a video call; they are completely missing in a phone call. Emails and chats often fail to convey nuances such as tone of voice. The risk of miscommunication is higher when you deal with remote workers. People may feel that virtual communication isn’t an adequate substitute for social interactions.
The remote workplace needs a deliberate effort to inject human touch. You wouldn’t commence each day at the office with an icebreaker, but that might be exactly what your remote team needs. People might take pains to keep their kids or pets out of sight during a video call; encourage them to do the opposite and lead by example. If you want to foster stronger bonds between employees and a greater sense of company culture, you’ll need to take such steps to maximize these limited means of interaction. For the time being, this is how your leadership can keep your team strong and give them an edge in remote performance.