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Best Employers: the remote management masterclass

PUBLISHED: 09:04 24 June 2020 | UPDATED: 10:22 24 June 2020

Management is always about juggling - but leading a team remotely adds an extra dimension of challenge   Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Management is always about juggling - but leading a team remotely adds an extra dimension of challenge Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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Ten tips for getting the best from remote workers, from Best Employers Eastern Region

The Best Employers Eastern Region programme is helping businesses with a free employee engagement surveyThe Best Employers Eastern Region programme is helping businesses with a free employee engagement survey

Covid-19 has changed managers’ relationships with staff. Remote working has meant no more chatting by the lift, stopping by a desk to find out how a project is progressing or how someone’s children have done in their exams – all the little moments that helped a good manager keep a finger on the pulse of their business.

Of all the challenges posed by the switch to remote working, the largest have been to continue managing people rather than just tasks, and to preserve a company’s culture. “Best Employers companies have increased regularity of communication with their people - and the leaders themselves have typically found it very rewarding,” says Lynn Walters of recruitment experts Pure, co-founder of Best Employers. “There has been genuine collaboration, stronger bonds formed between teams and by providing transparency, there has been an increase in loyalty and pride from employees.”

More than 350 organisations have taken part in Best Employers Eastern Region, which aims to share, inspire and inform on employee engagement. “Looking forward to 2021, we hope even more organisations will participate,” says Lynn. As some element of remote operation is likely to continue, even after offices begin to open, understanding how to get the best from a team that might be miles apart is more important than ever. Here are Best Employers’ ten key points for effectively managing a remote workforce.

Lynn Walters of recruitment specialists Pure     Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.ukLynn Walters of recruitment specialists Pure Picture: davidjohnsonphotographic.co.uk

1 Deliver clarity

Make sure everyone knows what’s expected of them. It removes stress and promotes motivation. Ensure they understand that remote working includes taking the time for self-care.

2 Trust your values

Opening up to make communication personal is critical for building trust with remote workers    Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoOpening up to make communication personal is critical for building trust with remote workers Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Being clear about what matters to you as a business – and making sure everyone in the company understands – makes it easier to respond to changing circumstances in a consistent, considered and effective way. Make sure actions and communications always reflect the values, as that will reflect well on the business.

3 Look after your people

Especially with remote workers, it’s vital to make sure people feel connected to the business and to their teams – not by function but as people who are valued. Regular and personal communication, showing appreciation, is the start.

If you can't host a large enough meeting to reach every member of staff, let managers cascade key messages to ensure they're delivered personally    Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoIf you can't host a large enough meeting to reach every member of staff, let managers cascade key messages to ensure they're delivered personally Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

4 Choose the best way to communicate

Find the best way to make a direct connection with your people - whether it’s a video conference, a video on the company website, or an email. The more personal the message is, the better it is. Project hope rather than confidence - be honest about the challenges, be grateful for the support and be open about the prospects, good and bad.

Listening to what employees have learnt about how to work under lockdown is crucial - not only for keeping motivation and productivity high but also for finding innovation   Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoListening to what employees have learnt about how to work under lockdown is crucial - not only for keeping motivation and productivity high but also for finding innovation Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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5 Cascade the message

Especially when people are anxious, personal messages are more effective than email. If you can’t address everyone in your organisation directly, and let managers communicate with their teams so the message cascades down in a way that lets everyone feel directly involved and valued.

Find the best ways to reachremote workers - and project hope, honesty and gratitude to earn loyalty and build motivation   Picture: Getty Images/iStockphotoFind the best ways to reachremote workers - and project hope, honesty and gratitude to earn loyalty and build motivation Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

6 Listen – and find more ways to listen

Use what staff have learnt from lockdown to improve working practices. Remember that people’s priorities and attitudes as well as how they work, so understand their needs and what they’re worried about. The best leaders are the best listeners.

7 Encourage agile working

Video meetings can be shorter so can be more regular. Don’t be afraid to add participants if it means answers can be given there and then, so decisions can be made more quickly. Don’t be afraid to reverse decisions quickly.

8 Innovate from the ground up

The best ideas and the most surprising innovations probably won’t come out of the board room. Create a culture where every employee feels empowered to volunteer suggestions for ways to adapt, improve or innovate.

9 Celebrate the teams

Every team across the business should together regularly, even when working remotely. Foster an atmosphere of mutual support and community, so communication isn’t solely focused on work. Look for opportunities for teams to socialise virtually to reinforce the bond.

10 Look for fresh opportunities

Yes, this is a staple of all business – but it bears repeating. The ability to find new markets and new revenue streams has never been more important. Merely nurturing what you already have will not be enough.

To find out more about how Best Employers can help your business, click here.


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