As many in the workforce have transitioned to working from home, we are hearing that some employees are hitting a wall. This can include facing frustrations with learning new tools, feeling isolated or even feeling invisible (lonely). But as we continue to adjust to a new working normal, there are ways that managers can keep employees engaged and productive over the long-term.
Here are four ways that managers can help remote employees stay engaged:
Prepare for your day
Even though our new work “commute” is more streamlined when working from home, it’s still important to keep a morning routine that helps us get into a productive mindset. It can be as simple as making breakfast, sitting outside for a few minutes and dressing in business casual clothing before starting your workday. If possible, set aside 90 minutes of your morning to work on your highest-priority project or set a meeting to discuss the status of a high-priority project so that employees have time to interact with you and incorporate actionable items into their work.
Encourage your team to develop their own ways of preparing for their day, whether that means creating a to do list in the evening, laying out clothing for the next day, or going for a morning run. Keeping a regular rhythm can help employees transition into working remotely and help them stay engaged in their work throughout the day.
Encourage your team to develop their own ways of preparing for their day, whether that means creating a to-do list in the evening, laying out clothing for the next day, or going for a morning run.
Find a consistent communication cadence
When managing a dispersed team, communication is often the glue that holds everything together. Regular check-ins allow you to find out the status on projects, share any updates and see how everyone is doing. Set aside a specific time on everyone’s calendar a few times a week for a quick call or video chat.
Modify how you collaborate
When everyone is working from home, the ways in which your team works together may have to shift to be successful at virtual collaboration. It may be more efficient to choose a platform to act as a central collaboration hub so that important communications, details and documents are not missed. When working remotely, it may make more sense to use an instant messaging platform as your “hub” to collaborate, send documents and communicate in real time so everyone is on the same page and a project can be completed more smoothly.
Workflow processes that were seamless in the office may have to be modified to better reflect the realities of working from home, where, for some, it may not be easy to collaborate. Consider using a project management platform, like Monday.com to help your team keep track of a project’s individual tasks and workflows or a whiteboard platform like MURAL or Miro to work together in real time, similar to in-person meetings which use a physical whiteboard.
Take a break
An important aspect of helping your team remain productive throughout the workday is to suggest they incorporate mini breaks throughout the day. While this may seem counterintuitive, stepping away from a task for 5-10 minutes during an energy lull allows employees to come back to a project refreshed. Encourage your employees to get up and move around throughout the day, whether that means taking a walk around the neighborhood or exercising during a lunch break to reduce stress. Studies also indicate regular exercise can also boost cognition and memory.
It’s just as necessary to unplug at the end of the day. Establish a cut off time in the evening when you can step away from your workspace. In Buffer’s 2019 State of Remote Work, respondents reported that unplugging from work was their top challenge. If possible, set boundaries to adhere to specific working hours and encourage your team to do the same. This will allow you and your team to decompress and come back the next day recharged.
While it can be a challenge to adjust from office life to working remotely, there are plenty of ways to support your employees in finding their working from home groove that fits them best. For more ideas on how to support a remote team, check out 3 Ways to Make Your Remote Employees Feel Included.