Kerrian Fournier
Vybrante Ventures
August 2020
3 Min Read

4 Tips for Managers Overseeing Remote Employees During COVID-19

The Coronavirus is shifting not only our hygiene habits but for many companies, also their work model – now asking many, if not all of their employees to work remote for the foreseeable future.  Telecommuting isn’t something new, but for many managers, this will be their first-time managing employees who are remote, and they’ll also be managing employees for whom this is their first time working remote, so they will need extra TLC.

Here are few key tips on being an effective manager of remote employees:

Establish Clear Expectations

First and foremost, it’s important that you manage expectations and stay focused on goals versus micromanaging and/or worrying about what is being done. It is all about accomplishment, not activity.  If your team is meeting its goals, then awesome! If you see things slipping, then you can quickly delve into what’s causing the issue and target your feedback as necessary.

Proactively Communicate

Managing a remote team both effectively and efficiently requires a clear communication strategy.   First, determine the appropriate number of formal check-ins for each of your employees. This may be different per employee, given their experience and need for guidance. Second, discuss with them what helps them be most productive while working remotely. For example, some people work better with a shopping list of questions and thoughts while others need more context and conversation.

Particularly for employees who are new to working remote, it’s a good idea to engage on a daily basis through some kind of communication. Use multiple channels to communicate (Slack, Zoom, Email, Phone Calls).   If at all possible, incorporating video conferencing so that you can look at one another when you’re speaking for individual and group calls is very helpful.

Avoid Multitasking

Figure out how to avoid multitasking. Video conferences instead of phone conferences work well. Encourage people to stay in working mode and off email back-and-forth as much as is reasonable.  Email communication with extensive “reply all” can blow-up productivity. Encourage people to pick up the phone and proactively engage like they would in the office, vs. relying too heavily on heavy email traffic.

Proactively Address Potential Challenges

For employees new to working remote, there are a number of challenges that can undermine their productivity.  If a manager can proactively address these risks with their staff, there’s a better chance for optimizing a smooth transition.  Some of these challenges include:

  • Feeling isolated: Some remote workers feel isolated by working alone, while others find they can better focus and be productive.  Some employees love fluid interplay between their work and personal life; others need to have a real boundary between office and home.  Understand where each of your employees falls into this continuum and build it into your communication and coaching plan for them.
  • Feeling distracted: Employees who are new to working remote may find it’s too each to get sidetracked with the ample distractions (home chores, pets, children and/or spouse).  Plus, there’s no over-the-shoulder oversight to keep them off Social Media. Encourage them to build a schedule for themselves that they can stick to—and is transparent to you, especially if their hours aren’t 9–5 or within the same time zone.
  • Feeling there’s no Off-Switch! With no commute or way to leave the office, it can be hard for some to separate their work and personal life.  It’s important to remind them that unplugging at the end of the day is important and that they don’t feel like they’re on call 24/7.

If you could use help with the learning curve of transitioning to remote work during COVID-19, Vybrante Ventures is here to help! Reach out today on our website: https://vybrante.com/contact/