How to Manage

Leaders at companies that have or are initiating changes in permanently allowing employees to work remotely will need to adapt, but it’s also important to remember that remote work is a two-way street. A Gallup survey just before the pandemic revealed that 40% of employees strongly concurred that the company’s mission makes them feel that their work is important. Managers must also continue to remind remote workers of the company’s mission and keep steering them to it. And employees need to feel that their bosses still care for them as people.

Only 23% of employees believed strongly that they could apply their company’s values to their everyday work. Building a strong workplace culture is not easy under normal circumstances and will be even more challenging for companies that open up remote capabilities. It will take a team effort by management for remote working to succeed.

The Gallup survey uncovered four common needs. The first was hope, as employees wanted to get excited about a better future. The second was stability as, even though the pandemic didn’t drive this home, employees wish to be assured that some things will remain steady even under the most trying times. Trust was another priority as workers want messages from leaders to be consistent with their actions. The fourth need was compassion from leaders who listen to them with understanding. Here are three suggestions for leaders.

Step One

In a virtual or remote environment, big changes must be made to maintain employee morale and confidence. The main objective of these changes is reaffirming that the company still cares about its employees and is making major changes to accommodate their remote work.

One change might include a new way of meeting like virtual team lunches, including celebrations. How about video check-ins and virtual brainstorming sessions? A culture of doing things differently must be agreed on and implemented.

Step Two

Display adaptability and empathy. Each remote worker is facing new and different challenges. For one, it might be the absence of privacy because of the presence of other family members. For another, it could simply be adjusting to this new regimen. Demonstrating care for each employee is critical all the time but particularly in the early beginnings of this new structure. Gallup found that only 40% of workers felt their boss cared about them. It’s a number that companies can’t afford to experience further decline.

Step Three

Recognition is and has always been an integral part of managing employees. It’s easy to fall into the adage of “out of sight, out of mind.” With more remote workers, it’s even more critical not to forget those who excel in their work or have developed innovative ways to maximize their efforts from afar. What may be helpful as well is revisiting and revising the way remote employees record and report their work and results. Using part of team virtual meetings is one way to recognize such success.