As we navigate the whirlwind that 2020 threw us into, working life has been changed forever for many organisations. Back in 2018 we might have found it surprising that a survey conducted by Buffer found 90% of the remote workforce plan to work remotely for the rest of their careers, and 94% of those who work remote would recommend it to others*. A more recent Garner Inc. survey of CFOs and Finance leaders in March revealed that 74% of survey respondents plan to shift at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions. Nearly a quarter of respondents said they will move at least 20% of their on-site employees to permanent remote positions**. Now, as we near towards seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, these figures may no longer be so surprising.
So, what should you be doing to make sure your team has effectively adapted to the new workplace reality? Continue reading to discover our 6 top tips for effective remote management.
1. Set clear expectations for the year
In most organisations, the finance department is full of people who work hard and hit deadlines. They have demonstrated their commitment to their careers by becoming professionally qualified. But are you sure that everyone is always pushing in the same direction? Itís important to identify the deliverables, behaviour and level of contribution that will support the businessís and personal goals. When each team member sees the bigger picture of how their work fits into the businessí goals, it gets everyone lined up and pushing in the same direction.
2. Check in
Reduce remote workers' feelings of isolation by calling regularly to check in informally and facilitating face-to-face interactions with colleagues. Just because youíve set the expectation for the year doesnít mean you now donít need to speak to your team regularly. Working remotely removes the office chit-chat and opportunity to stop by someoneís desk for a catch up. Regular and informal conversations with colleagues should be facilitated to continue building relationships and encouraging a good team dynamic.
3. Provide frequent feedback
Another key advantage of regularly checking in is that it gives you and your team the time to informally provide feedback to each other. It enables both parties to check their progress and measure it against expectations. Feedback in these situations needs to include the positive as well! Recognising the achievements of team members in a group setting is crucial in making sure each member of your team feels appreciated in their role. Negative feedback needs to be provided in a way that is sensitive and appropriate Ė keep in mind that body language and tone may be lost in some forms of digital communication.
4. Spot when you yourself are off-balance
When youíre working at a distance, your colleagues arenít there to let you know youíre looking stressed or under pressure. You need to look out for signs yourself and encourage your team to do the same. Are you finding it difficult to concentrate? Are you feeling anxious, irritable or emotional? Or are you feeling some physical changes, such as experiencing headaches or struggling to sleep? These are all indicators of stress and you may need to re-evaluate the separation between your professional and personal lives or devote more time to activities that promote well-being. When you do this for yourself, you model the behaviour for the rest of your team to do the same. Which brings us on to our next point.
5. Model good practice
Your team will be looking to you to set the boundaries of what is acceptable. If you are seen working extra hours and taking on too much of a workload, they will inadvertently feel pressured to do the same. Long term, this just isnít effective and will create a stressful working environment for yourself and your team. Itís crucial for you to be modelling good remote working practices and encourage a healthy division between working life and personal life, even if those do feel blurred at the moment.
6. Encourage employees to take responsibility for their own development
Regular feedback will help develop good practice and allow your team members to gauge how theyíre doing and where they may need improvement. They can then set actionable goals to boost their own learning and performance. Each team member will need your support and encouragement to continue learning, but this shouldnít be micromanaged. What your team does need is access to learning materials and a range of topics and learning styles so they can take control of their own performance.
When youíre working at a distance, it can be easy to lose the friendly, encouraging environment of an office. By following the above steps, you can make sure you and your team have a healthy work life balance which allows your team to thrive in the post-pandemic world.
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