As Coronavirus becomes increasingly widespread in the UK and the number of people self-isolating continues to rise, it seems inevitable that remote working will be key to helping companies weather the economic storm and adopt a business as usual outlook. For managers who are busy preparing business contingency plans, this comes with a new set of challenges. It takes a real shift in mindset to banish any negative perceptions of working from home and embrace the benefits of working remotely instead.
The challenges of remote working:
If you’re used to working with your team from 9am to 5pm in the workplace, it’s entirely normal to worry about how you will manage them remotely. Below are the top 5 concerns managers have about remote working:
- I don’t trust my team to be as productive at home as they are in the office – I need to make sure that everyone is still pulling their weight.
- It’s far harder to motivate people virtually than it is in person. My team will need to hone their time management skills to avoid getting distracted.
- The team will have less interaction and collaboration with each other which could make it difficult to generate new ideas. We’ll have to introduce new ways of working to avoid silo mentality.
- Working at home can be lonely – people in the team may feel isolated and unsupported and this could lower their energy levels.
- We aren’t really set up for remote working – there’s bound to be challenges on the technical front as the team adapt to working with new technologies.
How to see the benefits of remote working:
The secret to shifting your mindset is to flip these negatives into positives and look for the benefits in the situation. First things first, it’s important to remember that uncertain times can bring out the best in people. More often than not, people rise to new challenges. So, encourage your team to draw on their creativity and resilience to adapt to new ways of working remotely. View remote working as an opportunity to empower the individuals in your team by clarifying their goals and delegating responsibilities. By demonstrating you trust them to get the job done, you will reap the rewards of a more motivated and engaged team.
Embrace the use of new technology and the benefits it can bring. Be thankful that meetings held over webinars tend to be more efficient and purposeful than endless updates in meeting rooms. Encourage your team to take practical steps to check in with one another via phone or skype. This will help highlight the powerful role conversation plays in fostering creativity and collaboration and make them less reliant on text or email. Remind your people of the time they will save by not commuting and how this will improve their work life balance. Who knows? This enforced period of remote working may pave the way to introduce more flexible and agile ways of working in the future, enabling you to attract and retain your star performers.
Finally, by harnessing your optimism and resilience in the coming days and weeks to adapt to the challenges of Coronavirus, you will lead by example and inspire your team to adopt a keep calm and carry on approach as well.