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5 tips to effectively
manage your remote workforce

There are several benefits to working remotely — no commuting, better work-life balance, and flexible hours to name a few. However, many employers find themselves managing a newly remote workforce due to the uncertainties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Harvard Business Review explains that "although it is always preferable to establish clear remote-work policies and training in advance...this level of preparation may not be feasible" because of these abrupt changes.

Adapting to this new way of work isn't easy. But there are specific strategies to help employers keep their workforce connected, productive, and engaged. Here are five practical tips that employers can implement:

  1. Provide frequent and direct communications
    The last thing you want is for your employees to feel out of the loop when working remotely. Keep everyone up to date with regular communications. Be transparent and set a positive tone. Your employees want to hear from you — even if you don't have something big to announce. Scheduling Q&A sessions can also go a long way to make employees feel included. The Indeed for Employers blog explains that it can be a "highly effective feedback loop" that helps keep the team connected.

  2. Create opportunities for remote social interaction
    It's important to structure ways for employees to have social interactions. This is especially true for employees who have been abruptly transitioned out of the office. One way to do this is by setting aside some time at the beginning or end of team calls for non-work topics, such as weekend plans or personal exciting news. Other ways to establish social interactions is by hosting virtual games, office parties, or happy hours. These types of events help promote a sense of belonging and eliminate any feelings of social isolation.

  3. Focus on output not process
    Employees are juggling other commitments, like parenting responsibilities, in addition to their regular workload. Focus on what they should accomplish rather than the process. Allow your employees to finish their work in a way that is easiest and most productive for them. Let them work outside of your typical “office hours” if that is what works best with their responsibilities at home. Whenever possible, be lenient with deadlines and understand that there is likely a good reason for any delay.

  4. Increase employee recognition
    Recognizing a job well done is necessary given the lack of visibility in a remote environment. Remote employers have limited interactions with their employees and much less visibility. But recognition not only motivates the employee, but helps them see their work contribute to company goals. It can be as easy as publicly acknowledging their hard work during a meeting. A simple shout-out goes a long way.

  5. Offer emotional support and be on the lookout for emotional distress
    It's a difficult time and your employees may be having a tough experience. Acknowledge stress, empathize with struggles, and listen to anxieties and concerns. Make it clear to employees that you care for them and will offer any support. Provide managers with training on how to approach sensitive topics surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, such as job security and impacts on staffing.

Watch our virtual fireside chat to learn how you can manage uncertainty through scenario planning in this week's virtual fireside chat. Join Li Chen, Associate Professor at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, and Vishal Gaur, Emerson Professor of Manufacturing Management at Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, as they discuss with Senior Manager, B2B Logistics at John Paul Makilya what scenario planning means and how companies can use this approach to manage liquidity, staffing, and inventories. You can view our other virtual fireside chats here.

This week's #B2BTuesday Tip:

Make sure employees have the technology they need to be successful, which may be more than just a mobile phone and laptop.

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