Wherever I go, this seems to be the hot topic of discussion among people Managers. Many Managers out there have been caught off-guard not knowing how to manage a virtual team effectively for a prolonged period of time. To make matters worse, the constant change and revision of SOPs is also taking a silent toll on employee morale.
The truth is, motivating a virtual workforce is not very different from motivating a traditional one. Regardless of where you work from, the success factors are still the same. Managers must however adopt a more proactive but flexible approach. At the same time, Managers must also be conscious of the psychological impact of employees being cooped up at home doing work for the office in one hand and doing work for the home on the other.
Here are some things you can try:
(if you’ve not done so already)
Tip #1 – Organize Training
In some companies, there are Managers that manage a virtual workforce 24/7. Time to leverage on their expertise. Get them to conduct a training for your entire company on how to manage people working from home. Record the session.
Tip #2 – Psychological Support
No use denying it’s not happening. Have you read reports that domestic violence has increased during these troubled times? People that love each other can end up hating each other if they see each other for too long. Familiarity breeds contempt. Have your HR team conduct a webinar for your employees on how to stay sane and manage their well-being during this time. You can also go one step further and engage a third party to offer private counselling to any of your staff that may need it.
Tip #3 – Daily Stand Ups
All Managers must conduct a daily conference with their team members every day at the earliest convenience. This should be a scheduled in your calendar. Turning on video during this session is mandatory. I know a lot of people out there that don’t brush their teeth, take a bath, comb their hair and wear something decent when they work from home. As a result, they don’t want you to see their true self during this period. There may also be a select group of people that don’t really want to show you what their living space looks like (for whatever reason). All of this is understandable. The daily stand up is not about work. Its about assessing the well-being of your employees on a day-to-day basis. You can talk about work with them on other con-calls in the day where video is not mandatory.
Tip #4 – Flexible Work Schedule
In some businesses, there is no escaping a fixed work schedule but in most others, this should be allowed. In my opinion, WFH is not “Work From Home” it’s actually BHTW or “Being at Home Trying to do Work”. There can be plenty of things going on at home that can distract you from work. Some of these things happen to be important, like children. You can’t tell a 2-year-old to keep quit while you go on a con-call for an hour. If your staff have something important to do at home for the day, make sure they inform you of that during the daily stand-up. This will allow you to discuss an agree on a modified schedule for them for the day.
Tip #5 – Don’t Forget to Have Fun
You can still have lunch together with your staff. Just get them to order their favourite food and turn on a VC session during lunch time. You can also organize a ‘Free and Easy’ session after work on Fridays and unwind with your favourite beverage in hand. Refrain from taking about work during these sessions.
Tip #6 – Don’t Think in Isolation
Yes, you are the Manager but you don’t need to have answers to everything. If you have answers to everything you are an Encyclopedia. You belong in a library, not the office. Get your staff to tell you how they want to interact with each other during this time. Brainstorm ideas together with them. Come to a consensus and execute it. You can adopt a different approach every week to be fair. Make sure there is an element of fun in it.
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