You might think that remote workers already have all the space they could possibly need. Physically, they're far from the office and find more freedom to work when and as they please. But when they have a micromanaging boss – especially one who isn't yet accustomed to overseeing remote teams – that critical space can evaporate quickly. Disciplined remote workers want to do their job as efficiently as possible, and they can become frustrated by too many instant messages, emails, meetings and phone calls.
If you find yourself newly managing a remote team due to recent stay-at-home orders, you may be feeling overwhelmed by this adjustment. But remember – your direct reports are adjusting to a new normal, too! Frequent check-ins can hinder creative workflows, so experiment with these three tactics to give your remote workers the space they need:
1. Schedule check-ins as they relate to project updates
To minimize interruptions and avoid micromanaging, schedule specific times to gather updates from your team. When everyone knows exactly when they'll meet next, they can plan their workday accordingly.
Use a quality video conferencing tool like GoToMeeting for these virtual touchbases. Remote workers can share their screen, take advantage of HD-video and audio quality, and even have meetings recorded and transcribed. Once you know where everything stands, both you and your remote workers can go back to your uninterrupted work for optimal productivity.
2. Create a shared calendar
Of course, you'll always find it necessary to contact remote staff members between scheduled check-ins. A common faux pas of managing a remote team is assuming workers are always at their desks and can drop what they're doing to immediately pivot. Try to be empathetic – in reality, most remote workers are dealing with distractions that come in the form of childcare, pets, spouses, and roommates! Creating a shared calendar can provide visibility into when remote workers are available and when they're planning to take time off.
However, be careful not to go so far as to encourage detailed calendar entries that aren't necessary. When an employee has blocked time on their calendar and labeled it as "busy" or just "PTO", that should be enough. Respecting their commitments outside of work will go a long way in building and maintaining mutual trust.
3. Stay connected, but be flexible
When working remotely, the line between work and life becomes infinitely more blurry. If your company uses a chat application like Slack, encourage your employees to keep their status updated. If they take a lunch break, a walk with their kids, or have a personal appointment, ask that they use their status to display that they're temporarily unavailable. (Bonus points for fun emojis!)
As a manager, respect these boundaries. If someone is away from their desk, you can leave a message for them, but make clear that you don't expect them to respond immediately. This goes a long way in ensuring employees don't feel rushed through lunch or that walk they decided to take.
Lastly, be patient with your employees as they learn to navigate a more flexible workstyle. Keep the dialogue open and encourage workers to find the work-life balance that fits them the best.
Learn more in our Anywhere Worker Guidebook!
Extra space isn't the only thing on the mind of your remote team members. Download our Anywhere Worker Guidebook today for can't-miss tactics to leverage for a smooth transition to a more flexible work model.