How to successfully manage remote working
On Wednesday 8 December 2021, the Prime Minister announced ‘Plan B’ measures will be implemented in England. From Friday 10 December, face masks will become mandatory in most indoor venues, including theatres and cinemas. As of Monday, 13 December 2021, people are advised to work from home, where possible.
Other measures, including the requirement to hold a NHS Covid pass for entry into certain venues, both indoor and outdoor, will apply in a week’s time.
School nativity plays can go ahead and there are no plans to prevent Christmas parties from being held. If you are considering cancelling any festive social events, please feel free to contact me to discuss the best way to communicate this with your team.
In December 2020, we published guidance on managing a remote workforce. It’s probably a good time to revisit it. Drop me a line if you have any questions, or for a FREE trial to our HR Software to help you manage staff remotely.
If the recent announcement to work from home where possible has concerned you as an employer, you’re not alone, but there’s no reason why it can’t be successful. Moss shares her top 7 tips to ease the shift from office to home based working and to help make it a triumph for your business.
Setting clear expectations
Focusing on outputs, rather than the amount of time spent sat at the computer, is key to managing a remote team successfully.
It might be tempting to want to check up on your employees to make sure they are actually working, but people can sense when they’re not trusted, and they won’t thank you for it.
As well as making sure your people have the right equipment, tools and resources to do their work, give them accountability and ensure each person is really clear on what’s expected of them; what they need to do, and when and how they need to deliver it.
Clear expectations make it much easier for you and your managers to determine who is working well and who is not and therefore who needs closer management or extra support.
Now more than ever, it’s crucial to keep the lines of communication open. It’s easy for anyone to become isolated when working from home, and potentially become disengaged, so introducing more regular check-ins – both 1:1’s and team-based – will help.
Many businesses have implemented a daily morning briefing video call. This is a great way to see each other, be clear about the day’s activities and priorities, discuss any issues and help everyone get mentally prepped for the day ahead.
If you’ve laid staff off or perhaps made changes to people’s roles, make sure everyone is clear on what the changes mean for them and the impact on workflows. Put simply, over communicate so everyone is on the same page.
It’s tempting to rely on email and video conferencing platforms like Zoom or Skype at the moment, but don’t forget the good old-fashioned phone as a means of checking in. Try and have a mix of communication methods as relying mainly on video meetings won’t work well for everyone. It can be harder for people to ‘read the room’ so you might find it’s always the same people actively participating. Be creative and think of different ways for people to contribute to the team dynamic that fit their individual style.
Health and safety rules and requirements exist regardless of whether employees are working in the office or from home, so make sure your people have an office set up that fits the requirements of their role; as far as you can at least! Remember though, it’s a two-way responsibility, so your employees also have a duty to work in a healthy and safe way.
If you’re unsure of your obligations for health and safety, then contact us for details of our trusted partners.
Consider mental wellbeing
We all have different circumstances right now that make dealing with the pandemic challenging and even those stoic members of your team may be struggling.
You don’t need to be a counsellor, but make sure your 1:1 check ins focus not just on work but also on how your employee is doing more generally. Many of us were used to working in a certain way back at the office and will find their natural personality type is not so easily suited to remote working. So, find out what’s working well for them and what extra support they need.
Mind offer some fantastic guidance on mental health at work, and this month’s Mind@Work update includes details on their online community portal, Side by Side, which you can share with your employees.
Keeping up team morale
Your team may well feel fearful and isolated working from home, especially if they live alone.
Make sure to celebrate successes and share team news and wins. This is more important than ever to help create a positive vibe.
Assigning small groups, or teams of people to stay in touch, check in with each other and generally ‘look out’ for one another is a simple system, but it can have a massive impact.
There are ways to support and reward staff differently than you would if they were in the workplace. Contact us for some ideas of how you can put this in place.
It might be a member of your team is struggling to work their usual 9am to 5pm hours. Perhaps they have caring responsibilities and would much prefer to work fewer hours during the day and make up the time by working in the evening. If you can be flexible and support your employees to fit work around their personal circumstances, it will be greatly appreciated and will help your employee to be at their most focused and productive.
Be mindful though if emails are being sent in the evening or early in the morning, other team members know they are not expected to always be ‘on’ and respond when they’re not actually meant to be working. You might want to discuss this with your team and come up with boundary expectations.
Working from home expenses
If your employees are required to work from home, they may be eligible to claim the cost associated with working from home (i.e. the increased electricity or heating usage for example), totalling £6 per week (tax free). You may be asked by your employees to give them this payment as a tax-free allowance or to deduct the sum from their taxable income. Check the HMRC website for more information on how this works.