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Human Resources Consulting Services

COVID-19: How to Manage your Teams Working Remotely (Teleworking)?

  • Emmanuelle Foisy
By Emmanuelle Foisy Advisor, HR Consulting Services - CRIA
The situation related to COVID-19 forces us to review our processes and to reorganize our work.

Before this crisis, we were able to work remotely on a sporadic basis depending on company policy, work-family balance or the job content requirements of individual positions. Now, for some businesses, the new reality of working remotely is full-time and continuously for an undefined period. 

Some of you find yourselves in this new reality for the very first time as an employee or manager. Thus, new work practices are emerging and bringing their share of challenges!

In order to help you see things more clearly and to assist you in meeting this challenge, we share with you some good practices on the management of telework and suggest some winning conditions to put in place.

Communication

One of the challenges of managing remote teams is communication. As a matter of fact, ensuring frequent communication, daily if possible, helps to foster guidance, a sense of belonging and employee commitment.

Your role, as a manager, is to establish a context of proximity by using the technological tools available to you through routine communication with your team members. Regularity is essential to create work habits, even at a distance.

Here are some concrete elements to be put in place to promote its application:

First, schedule weekly team meetings with recurring agenda items. Topics could include an update on recent management decisions and impacts on the organization; explain changes or guidelines to be implemented, etc. Make a briefing of current and future mandates, follow up on deadlines and ensure the efficiency of equipment and work tools. During these virtual meetings, you could also take a moment to answer employees' questions and/or concerns. If you are not able to answer them on the spot, commit yourself to returning with responses to them as soon as possible and respect this commitment. You could also invite employees to share their questions with you in advance to better prepare yourself. No doubt they will appreciate these meetings, which will allow them to follow the company's positioning in near-real-time as the situation evolves.

Second, focus on individual moments with your team members throughout the week. This will not only strengthen your relationship on a personal level but will also allow you to evaluate each employee's performance level. Your challenge as a manager is to remotely monitor their performance by avoiding a "micro-management" mode. How should it be done? Set clear and measurable objectives, conduct regular follow-ups and ensure that deadlines are met. Manage for results and let employees find ways to achieve their goals. Above all, trust them! Obviously, we encourage you to involve the employee in the identification of objectives so that they feel involved in the decision-making process and consequently makes them feel responsible for their role.  

Relationship

Why not take the opportunity to learn more about your work team?

In this unique context, do not hesitate to start your discussions by asking "how are things going?" or "how are things going on your end? "in order to encourage a human approach.

Be aware of the personality of each member of your team, because no two people react in the same way and have the same speed of adaptation. Some are quieter, some are fearful, and some are more detached. In either situation, all you must do is remain open, listen and prepare for a variety of emotions. If you notice that someone who is more anxious is having difficulty acclimatizing, consider support options. For example, a member of your team who is more optimistic by nature could certainly help them to temper their reactions and keep their mind occupied with more positive things. Or, refer the employee to an employee assistance program if one is in place within the organization. The idea is to be prepared for the various situations that may arise so that everyone feels taken care of and supported. You could also initiate the sharing of good practices among your team members, since as a manager you are note under any obligation to have all the answers.

The key to success lies in the goodwill and quality of support offered on an ongoing basis.

Sense of Belonging

Is it possible to maintain sound management and foster a fun working environment from a distance?

Yes, fun acts as an important lever and stimulates a sense of belonging, thus creating a positive employee experience. But beware, there are conditions that must be respected! First, the operating rules must be well established and known by everyone. Then, there must be room for creativity in order to create initiatives that will cultivate a sense of belonging. 

Get your employees to identify online team-building rituals or activities and make a promise to keep these initiatives on your agenda. These will become long-awaited "events" that people will be eager to attend. For example, you could organize a happy hour or an online relaxation activity such as yoga. Be creative and stand out! These activities will have as much impact on the employee experience as on your employer image. Believe it or not, these moments, even the craziest ones, will soon become unforgettable memories!

In conclusion, do not forget to take breaks throughout the day, such as going for a walk at lunchtime to disconnect, which will not only allow you to refocus, but will also help you get back on track. Studies show that people who work remotely are more productive than in the office. It's all about balance, and you cannot neglect your mental and physical health. Have good habits and plan a healthy work routine that meets your well-being as well as the mandates you have to execute.

For advice on how to properly manage the current situation related to COVID-19, we invite you to contact our HR Consulting team. The team remains on the lookout for you.

 

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