by Lily Lowder
A robust telework program can boost employee productivity and job satisfaction, but it’s also an integral workplace solution to improve an organization’s resiliency and continuity of operations plan in crises, such as pandemics, natural disasters, gas shortages and even transit disruptions. Like many employers across the nation, you may have just gone from 0% of staff teleworking to 100% working remotely.
While this situation may not be the well-planned telework pilot program that you had been envisioning, it does give you an opportunity to road test – ready or not – your remote work policies and practices for the long-term. Here are some helpful solutions for addressing the five biggest challenges for managing teleworkers – including a bonus tip!
Treat remote work as “the new normal”.
Don’t hold off on projects, meetings or vital communications that you’ll return to when you get back to the office. Find the right way to complete them now. It will improve the stability and efficacy of your operations. However, make sure that you’re setting expectations from the beginning about the longevity of a telework program. If this is a response to the crisis that will not be available after, make sure that your employees know that.
Be flexible and empathetic.
Many of your employees may not be working in ideal circumstances so encourage them to share with you when they’re struggling. Transparency will allow you to help them, such as taking advantage of leave time, restructuring their job responsibilities or modifying their work schedule. It can also help you and your team; you may need to shift around job responsibilities to accommodate teleworkers. It’s better to know before the ball gets dropped.
Work with your team to set guidelines.
Creating a telework framework together will help get buy-in from all levels of your team. Define goals, deliverables for each person, and time frames. Ask employees what kind of support they need from you. Keep in mind – every employee is different. Some employees will thrive while working from home; others will require more hands-on (virtual, of course) support.
Hold effective meetings.
Make sure that each meeting has a leader, an agenda and clear topics of discussion. Remember, there’s nobody sitting at the head of the table when you’re online! Also, communicate with employees about what meetings are required, and if they’re required to turn on their web cam. If employees are working outside of core business hours, they may need to make necessary accommodations.
Make sure that teleworkers are adequately trained on the technology.
Do not expect them to be comfortable using new video conferencing or project management platforms right off the bat. Provide them with webinars, tutorials and trainings, as necessary. And make sure that they have contact information for your IT specialist when problems arise.
Lean into the chaos.
Use this time to try new things or get around to projects you’ve never had time for. Try out a new project management tool. Document lessons learned on a past project. Catch up on industry research and best practices. Ask your team if there’s any projects that they’ve been wanting to work on, but haven’t been able to get around to.
The thought of managing a team of teleworkers may have terrified you before, but these helpful tips will help you to lean in the chaos, as well as improve the productivity and satisfaction of your team. If you have any questions, please contact Lily Lowder at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation. Alamo Commutes can help your team with the transition to telecommuting or provide support in starting a long-term telework program. You can also check out our resources for employers on other flexible scheduling arrangements.
If you would like to learn more about the Alamo Commutes program, please contact Lily Lowder at email@example.com.