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Why you should offer flexible working when working remotely

Posted in Company Culture, Employers, Policies & Procedures, Training & Development, Workplace Wellbeing on Apr 15, 2020 by Keeley Edge

Managing teams who are working remotely is probably new to many of us right now, so we called upon Anna Masheter from Beyond Learning to share her knowledge and expertise in this area. An experienced leader, coach and trainer, Anna is accustomed to helping organisations to create effective teams and enabling Managers and aspiring Managers to lead and manage those teams to produce the right results.

Why you should offer flexible working when working remotely

Sounds strange doesn’t it?! Surely employees working remotely are working flexibly. After all, they are getting to stay at home, probably sat in their PJ’s with a laptop on their knee – right?!

During the current crisis, millions of us are now working from home to keep safe and to do our part in not spreading COVID-19. Many businesses have moved to a remote working environment literally overnight, some of which have never had employees working remotely before.

So, it is understandable that business owners, leaders and managers might have some nervousness about employees working from home. It’s a whole new world for us all and there may be worries over whether employees are working as they should and being productive or are sat watching Homes Under the Hammer?

It’s obvious that there is going to be less physical oversight and contact with employees that are now working remotely but does this mean that they are not delivering their duties or being productive?

Let’s not forget the impact that the current crisis is having on people and potentially your employees. They could be experiencing feelings of fear and anxiousness, worries about the future, money or the health of loved ones. All of this can be a distraction for people and should be managed sensitively.

Everyone needs to settle into their own routine. Working from home can be challenging for some - it disrupts your usual rituals of getting up, getting ready and heading out to work. It will take time for employees to adjust and find the routine that best fits them in their new environment.

Here are some top tips to how you can effectively and more positively manage your teams whilst working remotely;

Judge employees on their output, not input

Don’t lose your mind if your team members don’t answer their phone straight away or respond to that email immediately. They may have stepped away to grab some fresh air, a cuppa or they may have their head in a piece of work that takes their concentration. As long as they are delivering what’s required, does it matter?

Agree how and when you will have a catch up 

Agreeing regular contact will help provide some structure for your team members. Agree a short agenda for your catch up calls or virtual meetings. This is a great way for employees to provide you with an update on their progress and will help the team maintain some focus. Video calling can be a really effective way to do this and you both get to see a friendly face.

Call your team members from time to time

Not to ‘CHECK UP’ on them but to CHECK IN with them – how are they doing? How are they adjusting? What is working well for them or what might they be finding challenging?

Offer some flexibility

Let’s remember that the schools are closed and you will have employees that need to work whilst they have their children at home. This can be a really difficult balancing act both practically and emotionally (Parent Guilt!). If your employees can deliver their duties at different times of the day, let them do so. If the are an early bird and want to smash out a few hours of work early in the morning so that they can spend a couple of hours with their family during the day, so what?!

Encourage employees to do things that maximise their energy

Working at home can zap your energy and our energy levels can vary wildly during the day. Encourage employees to consider when they have most energy as this is a great time to work and be productive. But also, those times where they are less energetic, encourage them to take a break. Speak to employees about what activities give them positive energy and encourage them to factor this into their day – whether this is heading out at lunchtime for a walk with the dog or sitting in the garden with a cuppa. The more energy your team has, the more productive they will be.

Tune in to how your employees are feeling

If you start to hear subtle changes in how your employees are talking or acting, tune into this and sensitively explore it. As already mentioned, these are anxious times for people and can spark all sorts of emotions. Maintain a supportive approach and lend an empathetic ear. Share how you are feeling, be authentic and ask how you may be able to help.

These are times that we need to pull together and look after each other. Let’s face it, working remotely or more flexibly will be here to stay long after this crisis is over. We should be using this opportunity to really explore how it could work for businesses and employees so that we can reap the benefits for years to come.

Anna Masheter – Beyond Learning

Working with organisations and people to help them achieve their potential.

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Beyond Learning can design and can deliver bespoke learning solutions to deliver real business outcomes.

If you are looking to develop your people, let us know and we can make an introduction to Anna on your behalf.

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