As a result of COVID, more than 16 million people began working from home, many for the first time. But how do you effectively manage virtual work environment or a team that you don’t see in person everyday?
Pre-COVID, 5 million employees worked from home at least half of the time. Whether you are a work from home pro or completely new to remote work, managing virtual work environment after COVID-19 and keeping the team motivated is challenging especially during these unprecedented times when the employees are also adjusting to the whole work from home life.
Let us look at top 8 ways to manage virtual work environment after Covid-19:
1. Identify and Select the Right Tools
Equip your team with the right tools and technologies that they think would help them be more productive and efficient including monitors, headsets, webcams, shared drives, and folders. Make sure your team is equipped with all of the right tools.
2. Use Video Conferencing Whenever Possible
87 percent of remote team members feel more connected when they use video conferencing. It also strengthens the lines of communication and makes interacting easy even while working from home.
Even if it is a bit daunting, video conferencing is necessary in managing and motivating the team.
3. Create a Communication Strategy
Since you do not have the luxury of turning around your chair and asking someone a quick question, or sitting around a traditional conference table with your team and working out solutions. It is necessary that you meet with your team daily, even for 15 minutes. It is also a great way to start the day with a team interaction.
The goal of such meetings is to go around the screen and have each team member identify what they have achieved the previous day, what they hope to achieve today, and any impediments that they may be experiencing.
You can also designate one of your weekly meetings to serve as a check-in or a recap of a specific ongoing project for your team.
Do not shy away from discussing impediments with your team. There are bound to be so many more challenges because everybody is working from home, so the quicker you know about those challenges, the more attention you can bring to it and quickly find a solution.
Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings with your team. Use these meetings not only to discuss current projects and goals, but to also take a pulse of the employees. Ask them about their current responsibilities and workload as well.
You can also maintain a project list in a shared drive, central document or a spreadsheet. Make sure you are including specific guidelines in that project list and hold teams and individuals accountable for those deadlines.
4. Consistently reinforce goals and strategic focus
In these times, company and team goals can quickly change as you probably have all experienced the uncertainty of these times. At the same time, employees who are especially new to working from home may struggle to prioritise those projects. So, layout specific goals and refer to them when you find your team is overloaded, disengaged or simply unsure of where to focus their efforts.
5. Communication is the Key!
Overcommunicate! Be responsive, available, and transparent. Never let your team feel like they are isolated and they do not know who to turn to with questions or challenges. Use different communication mediums such as text, phone call, and video calls while also understanding each employee’s preferred method and never make an employee feel uncomfortable if they prefer one method over another.
You can also check in informally with other team members even those you don’t directly oversee just to say a quick ‘hi’ or ‘how are you doing?’ that can mean a lot to help maintain connections with people that you do not see everyday in the office anymore.
6. Build Trust With Your Team
Remote work requires a higher level of trust between managers and employees. The lines are blurred even more today with work, home and everything going on simultaneously. Employees are working non-traditional hours to manage everything. So, focus less on the hours worked and focus more on the work that is getting accomplished. Let your employee’s result speak for themselves.
7. Recognise and Reward Your Employees
Employee recognition is even more important when teams are remote and it is harder to keep the team engaged and to help them to feel excited about every workday. Recognition also helps a lot with employee retention and it can be as simple as a little email, or a shoutout of work well done in a virtual work environment. You could also send an e-gift card such as discount vouchers or coupon codes. These little gestures go a long way.
When an employee is recognized, the entire company gets an email notification and the employee is added to a dashboard for everyone to see, and that keeps the morale high and encourages peer-to-peer recognition for other within the company.
Encourage recognition between teammates and across teams. Recognition is not just limited to managers and employee relationships. Also, encourage time off for not just your virtual workers but for you too. It can be so easy to fall into the same routine when your team’s working remotely and that can lead to burnout
8. Focus on Outcomes
Flexibility and empathy are just keys to helping your employees thrive. Therefore, focusing on outcomes will help put things into perspective. Successful completion comes from successful planning. Develop and communicate your project plans, set specific goals, and hold individuals accountable. Finally, embrace KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) and the data-driven environment.
Visibly track KPIs to unite your team around shared goals and help everyone keep the right priorities in mind.
So, these are a few ways to manage a virtual work environment after Covid-19 that you can practice to improve communication when working with a virtual team. In case you hire virtual worker, these tips will help you build lasting connections between you and your virtual employees.