Published: March 24, 2020
The shift to remote working and virtual connectivity takes away the physical ability of working side-by-side or face-to-face with colleagues. It can also take away the immediacy of being able to deal with day-to-day issues by removing the physical ability to see, talk and respond in a hands-on way. But removing this ‘physical’ connectivity can have an impact on emotional wellbeing too – which also needs to be managed.
Even if remote workers are not totally isolated from people, anxiety levels can rise through things like distractions from family members, neighbours, callers and pets during working hours. Even a lack of technical support for machinery, or not having sufficient supplies of paper and print cartridges can become problematic for some.
As well as factoring in sensible working hours, regular breaks, standing, stretching etc to maintain physical wellbeing (see The Virtual Office – Pt.1), encouraging a mindset that promotes and maintains mental wellbeing is also important. Part of this is to help employees to clearly understand the workstreams and supply-chains within which we all work. Once each person understands the plumbing and mental-map for remote/virtual/systemic working – along with communication, support and contingency for when critical things or pieces of equipment go wrong, they should be ready to engage in their new system of working, with their capacity and resourcefulness intact. These are also good practices in a normal working environment, of course!
In a nutshell, we need to establish and maintain both human and technical connectivity.
As each person gets ‘on top of role’ in their new environment, they should be helped to calibrate how proactive and productive they need to be and how to go about managing any urgent issues. A simple matrix of authorities and permissions within the system, coupled up to line managers, matrix managers, clients and suppliers, will give a useful framework for people to go about managing their staff and workload remotely.
Another good discipline of remote/virtual working is to maintain healthy social contact between colleagues – the equivalent of a coffee machine chat. This can be achieved and maintained through both social media, conference calling and/or a simple telephone chat and is a healthy part of maintaining good working relationships as a manager.
What remains important in the world of virtual working, as in any normal workplace, is clear communication about contexts, critical issues and business/organisational outcomes – along with clarity on when things are needed or expected to get done by. The principles of good people-management need tighter disciplines when done remotely. Anyone who already operates remotely or across time-zones will understand the point of these disciplines.
In a nutshell, make sure that communication is about both business and social when done virtually.
There are several elements to this:
For FREE telephone advice about setting up good remote-working practices, please do get in touch. We can also put you in contact with specialist H&S and HR consultants who are also offering free advice at this time.
If you need more robust support, Enrichyou have a range of virtual coaching and management support packages available to help you and your team at 33%-OFF our normal rates throughout the whole of 2020. No matter whereabouts in the UK your employees are working from, we can provide regular, professional wellbeing and management coaching sessions by phone, Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams, to help ease the pressure on your own management capacity during this difficult time.
We are also committed to offering a FREE virtual or telephone wellbeing coaching session to any HR or business professional who is struggling to cope at any level (personally or professionally) throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Simply call or email for details.
For more information, contact Andrew or Richard on 01733 645001 or email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org