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News & Views

The Virtual Office (Part 2) – Managing Remotely

Published: March 24, 2020

In the context of the current Covid-19 crisis across the country, many in the workforce – including managers – have found themselves working remotely from home. Each will deal with this experience differently depending on previous experience and personality etc, and some will adapt better than others. Below are a just a few ideas about how good practice and good people-management processes can help assure performance, wellbeing and successful business outcomes for you and your team.

Environment & Connectivity – Technical and Human

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 (more of this in the next article), 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.

Co-working

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.

Line Management & Supply-chain Management

There are several elements to this:

    1. Vitally, the line manager and the remote worker must have and maintain regular ‘wellbeing’ chats to stay connected. This could be a daily or weekly phone-call. The frequency depends on the resourcefulness and the newness of each person to working remotely, as well as the frequency of communication needed within the business.
    2. The supply-chain also needs to remain ‘in unity’ and as such needs someone facilitating that unity or for the supply-chain to meet in a virtual space to cover off the normal aspects of any team meeting…. checking that team bonds and unity remain intact…. ensuring that the priority-issues are being teased out for quick-wins…. and that fundamental solutions are being addressed from root causes and reactivity.
    3. In managing both remote workers and remote supply-chain relationships, it is important to stay on top of (and quickly resolve) any issues that get in the way of personal or functional success; and mutually agree an action plan to resolve them in a timely and expedient way, relative to the importance and urgency of the issue. In management terms, we would simply describe this as staying on top of the ‘improvement agenda’.

Measures of success for managing remotely: In a nutshell

    1. The Person: maintaining the happiness and wellbeing of each individual team member relative to their levels of connectivity and experience of remote working.
    2. The Role: supporting your team in achieving a daily sense of personal and professional accomplishment in both focus and performance.
    3. The Business: maintaining and achieving objective measures of collective team and supply chain performance.

 

For FREE telephone advice about setting up good remote-working and management practices, please do get in touch. We can also put you in contact with specialist H&S and HR professionals who are 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 during April, May and June. No matter whereabouts in the UK your employees are working from, we can provide regular, professional wellbeing and self-management coaching sessions by phone, Skype or Zoom to help ease the pressure on your own management capacity during this difficult time.

We are also committed to providing up to 4 hours a week of FREE virtual wellbeing coaching to blue-light card holders throughout the Covid-19 crisis. Ask for details.

For more information, contact Andrew or Richard on 01733 645001 or email us on: enquiries@enrichyou.co.uk

To read The Virtual Office (Part 1) – >>Click Here

 

 

 

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