Versatility continues to be the key to success for business leaders today. It is up to them to show the way when change threatens the continuity of business. The coronavirus pandemic has been the ultimate test of the ability to manage during a period of intense disruption.
"There are opportunities and new ways of doing things that will emerge. If anything the novel coronavirus may have simply accelerated trends in the workplace that were already happening," says Larry Dignan, writer for business technology news website ZDNet, which has utilized a remote work model to manage a global team of editors and contributors for nearly two decades.
Managing remote employees has become the new reality for many leaders. Here are six strategies to do it well:
- Remain Approachable
Your employees no longer have the luxury of popping into your office for a chat or engaging in casual banter on the elevator. A visible and figurative presence is important to the overall morale of your team, especially in an unfamiliar work atmosphere.
Take advantage of video conferencing. Hold virtual office hours. It may take trial and error to figure out what works best for your team, but it will have value.
- Emphasize Quality Over Quantity
A number of tools are available to help streamline remote work, from video conferencing and project management software to chat apps. This does not mean that you have to utilize all of them to successfully manage a remote team.
Be open, flexible and strategic in narrowing down which tools and methods work best for your business and employees. Focus on a system that produces quality work instead of the number of platforms and tools utilized.
- Offer Safe, Adaptable and Accessible Tools
As a leader, it is important to incorporate situational awareness to maintain business continuity. When employees don't understand how to use the tools required or can't access the tools in an offline setting, it hinders work-from-home productivity.
Research programs and systems that employees can seamlessly and securely access. Then, design a backup plan that takes connectivity issues into account.
- Focus on Your Metrics
Keep an eye on deliverables and quantify work in order to accurately measure if your business is hitting key objectives.
Shifting focus to metrics will keep you from micromanaging your employees. If they are hitting their targets and the numbers are lining up, you, as the leader, can focus on the big picture instead of the day-to-day minutiae.
- Use a Hybrid of Virtual and Written Communication
A combination of voice, video and written communication is usually the most constructive. For example, try to incorporate a follow-up email or document with a record of key takeaways after virtual calls. This can avoid confusion and ensure you team is on the same page.
- Trust Your Team
Sometimes the hardest part of change as a business leader is not necessarily adapting to it, but rather trusting that your team will do their part. Distractions will be inevitable, especially in the middle of a global pandemic. Finding ways to show your employees compassion and nurturing trust will help strengthen the business culture.
Managing a business during a crisis can be difficult, but it can also provide the framework for the future of work. Use this time to figure out what tactics work best for your remote employees and how to streamline your business model to be more versatile. This will better equip you for changes down the road.
Learn more about Southeastern Oklahoma State University's online BBA in Management program.
ZDNet: Managing Telecommuters in a Pandemic? Here are 8 Management Tips
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