Managing staff who work from home

woman working on computer

The recent Coronavirus outbreak has a lot of staff working from home, things have changed quickly and we are all having to adjust. 

For some of your staff working from home might have always been the norm but with the added situations surrounding Covid19 how do you make sure you are still managing staff effectively? We’ve got some insights on managing staff who work from home:

Encourage fun

If you were in the office you might have talked about that Tiger King documentary or Race Across the World and our big weekend plans over coffee. You do not have to share parts of your personal life but think about setting up weekly coffee mornings online. The team can set aside 30 minutes per week to talk about all things NOT work.

You could also set up a team whats app and think about sending jokes, riddles or quizzes or sending positive messages. Encourage your team to call in and check on each other too to boost morale, promote positive attitudes and to keep the sense of team. 

Get the right tools

Make sure that you and your team have all the tools you need to do your job. This might be access to certain drives, log-ins and passwords but you also need to think about the working environment available to them. Do they have monitors, have they got somewhere quiet to work from and is there anything that can be done to make it more comfortable and productive for them? It is a challenging time but for most there can be some inventive fixes, cables to connect laptop to tvs or the use of ironing boards as desks (think about it it can be the exact right height for any chair or standing)  

Plan! 

Staff can quickly become insular when we are working from home, put in regular catch ups and team conversations and try your best to stick to them. Plan meetings, plan fun activities and plan short catch ups. Encourage staff to plan their day too, be really clear with them that you expect to see their lunch break, home time and coffee breaks in their diaries. This helps you to manage your time, staff time and gives a sense of structure and routine too.  

Communication strategy 

Think about the right number of weekly check ins that work for the team and the projects you have on board. Review with each staff member their preferred way of communicating: are they early birds, do they plan their day the night before, what do they need you to do to get the best out of them? Do they need all of the information up front or do they prefer to have you drip feed tasks after each one is complete. Having open conversations with staff will help them think about how they like to communicate and the needs that others have too.

Practice what you want to say

Before you call or speak to your team write down the notes of what you want to say. What news you have to share, what actions are outstanding and when you will follow up. You should start your calls lightly and encourage chatter, it is a tough time and that kindness is needed, so having the notes of what you want to say will mean you will cover what you need to and will mean that you are less likely to over talk and complicate messages.

Set clear expectations 

We have and are still facing times of uncertainty, having clear expectations helps alleviate uncertainty. People have different expectations of working well and working quickly and there are extra considerations of how staff’s home and working life are continuing to change rapidly. It is worth reiterating how long you think staff should take to do things. Follow up requests and meetings with a clear and concise email too. 

Be clear on working hours

Work and home life boundaries have been blurring over the last few years, this period of time is strange for people and having clear boundaries is going to be important to encourage good practice and good mental health 

Be honest

Honesty promotes trust, no one expects their line managers to have all the answers right now but being honest about uncertainty. Telling staff you are having a number of meetings with management this week and when you expect to be able to feedback to them on key issues will stop them worrying every time you do (or don’t) call them. 

Things might be tough and changing rapidly for you too so look after yourself, being a leader through times of change is a real challenge. Be kind to yourself and ease some pressure. This advice might mean having to put in new processes but long term it will mean you have a clear view of what is happening and staff feel more comfortable with where they are too. 

For more information, please email info@youthemployment.org.uk or call 01536 513388.

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