We talked about developing good habits if you work from home. It’s important to keep yourself motivated and focused. Likewise, managers need to understand that they also play a role in providing crucial support for remote workers, because it’s often said and almost always true – out of sight, out of mind. And as we come out of the pandemic, we’re seeing different policies from companies that range from allowing workers who feel vulnerable to remain working from home, to fewer workers allowed in buildings and alternate shifts for when teams can get together safely. So looking forward, remote workers are part of the new normal.
There are many ways that managers can support remote workers, but let’s just focus on two basics that need your immediate attention. Keep in mind that among the most important tasks for managers is the responsibility to promote those attributes and work habits that lead all employees to the feelings of trust, team unity, and a shared purpose.
Managers need to fight for remote worker’s priorities. Let’s face it, everyone on your team has the ability to contribute to any given project. But employees who work remotely – whether from home or another city – are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to promoting and arguing for their priorities. It’s not that they can’t attend meetings – it’s pretty easy to remote anyone into any given meeting with today’s technology. But there are also those water-cooler moments, or when the team gets together for drinks after work where remote workers are at a severe and distinct disadvantage.
Managers need to keep this in mind and become a champion for remote team member priorities. You don’t have to necessarily believe or agree with someone’s ideas and priorities, but you do need to ensure that their voice is not relegated to the back of the room.
Managers need to pre-emptively contact remote workers if changes are going to be made to their project. No one likes being sabotaged or feel like they’ve been stabbed in the back. As a manager, you need to make damn sure you get on the phone with your remote workers if one of their projects is to undergo major changes. Explain what is going on, why the changes are being implemented and hear them out as they defend their project. But get out in front on this subject – don’t forget that part of being a manager is sometimes having to deliver the bad news.
It will kill team unity if remote workers hear the news through the grapevine or it’s sprung on them during a remote meeting in front of their peers. No one – no one – responds positively to the feeling of being sabotaged. And no one likes seeing their colleagues sabotaged either – it sends a terrible message.
Final thought. A lack of continual, daily contact with your team members can lead to a breakdown in trust and shared purpose. Managers need to focus their attention on all team members and not let out of sight, become out of mind.