Navigating the Challenges of a Newly Remote Workforce

A Newly Remote Workforce

With slowing the spread of COVID-19 being a top priority, many organizations are asking their employees to work from home. While nearly a quarter of US employees work from home at least some of the time, the remote work arrangement is new for many employees.

There are many challenges that come with a remote workforce, such as the lack of face-to-face interactions, coping loneliness, being able to access information quickly, and most of all, dealing with the distractions at home. Typically, organizations would have time to create clear remote work policies and offer a training period to learn how to handle these challenges, but that is simply not possible right now.

To help you manage your newly remote workforce, we have collected tips from the Harvard Business Review and Bamboo HR! By following these tips, you will not only keep your workforce organized, engaged and productive, but you will also help them overcome some of their stress and uncertainty.

Tips for Managing a Remote Workforce

  • Focus on Communication: A strong communication strategy is key to keeping any employee engaged, especially during a time like this. Consider using a chat program, such as Slack or Hangouts, to make chatting and keeping in touch with teammates easier. It is also important to schedule set check-in times as well as regular calls and video meetings. This will not only help the employee schedule out their day, but also help them stay on task to accomplish their goals.
  • Facilitate Interaction and Participation: For the best employee experience and to combat feelings of isolation, it’s important to encourage remote workers to interact in ways that aren’t just work related. Set aside time in video calls for employees to just catch up and talk about nonwork-related topics. Ask about their weekend, how their kids or pets are doing, and what they are doing to relax and unwind in the evenings. You can also schedule virtual activities for employees such as an online book club, team virtual yoga practices, or any other virtual activity that helps employees feel more involved and connected.
  • Give Appreciation and Encouragement: In an abrupt shift to remote work, especially in a time of high stress and anxiety, it so important to be there for employees. Research on emotional intelligence and emotional contagion tells us that employees look to their managers for cues on how to react to sudden changes or crisis situations. Take the time to acknowledge the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling and empathize with their struggles. Support employees and help lift them up by clearly stating your appreciation for their work and offering words of encouragement. Even just simple reminders such as, “we’ve got this!” can really make a difference!
  • Keep Them Updated: There is so much information regarding COVID-19 on social media and it can be overwhelming for employees to sort through it all. This is increasingly important considering most of the news on social media is inaccurate and often spirals out of control. Keep them updated with company emails and newsletters and explain to them how the latest developments are impacting your organization. In addition, direct them to official websites such as the CDC or WHO for the most up-to-date and accurate information.
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