Employees working remotely over the Christmas holidays? Set them up to succeed!

It’s a very busy time of the year for everyone and as employees are starting their Christmas vacation time or floating in and out of the office it can be difficult to keep work as the main focus. Unfortunately for many businesses, just because it’s Christmas the work can’t stop but the good news with working in IT is that working remotely is an option – and a pleasant one at that.

If your business allows for remote working it can be a fantastic way for employees to stay connected to the office over the festive period without affecting their work / life balance. It provides the opportunity for your employees to recharge their batteries and looks like a generous benefit from your behalf. This can prove a particularly good option for those people who haven’t got enough annual leave for the full duration of the holidays.

A 2016 survey from employee engagement firm TinyPULSE revealed that 91% of remote workers believe they “get more work done when working remotely,” compared to only 9% who feel they don’t. You can’t argue with those statistics. It seems the overall findings from that survey were very positive.

If you offer remote working to your employees it’s important that you as a manager, set them up for success with the right tools and clear expectations.

Establish a communication cadence

Your employees must understand that frequent check-ins will be required of them to establish feedback and ensure that they’re on top of their current workload. You should set out your communication expectations prior to the remote working so that scheduled communication takes place.

You should make sure that your employees have all the correct tools for remote working before they leave the office. Since we can do all three [email, phone and instant messaging] from one device nowadays, remote working has never been easier.

Make time for small talk

It can be tempting to just talk about what needs to get done and jump off your call, end your chat, and get back to executing. This isn’t how you should approach remote working though (unless you’re on a very tight deadline). You must appreciate that for some people this may be a new experience so you should aim to build that report with your employee to show that you really do care. Demonstrating you care is important to them and essential for you to truly understand their motivations. Taking the time to do this will also make them like working for you more.

Use video

Video is an especially powerful way to connect and engage remote teams, whether you’re gauging their reaction to a change in plans, or just trying to judge their overall mood that day, video tells you way more than an audio-only call or chat will ever reveal.

Video tools are readily available nowadays and in a lot of cases free so there’s really no reason why you can’t use it. The use of this technology will also demonstrate to your employees your willingness to modernise your business.

Never cancel a scheduled communication

If you absolutely have to, reschedule it, but never cancel. You should be setting a president to your staff so if they encounter you cancelling your communications then it may rub off on them. If you’re going to offer this way of working you must make sure that you are prepared to follow it through regardless of how busy your schedule is.

Follow up with a face to face

When your employee returns to work after their time away it is important to follow up with a face to face meeting. This could simply be to discuss how successfully both parties felt remote working worked and to give them opportunity to say how they feel it could be improved in the future. This is also an ideal time for you to give feedback – always remember to end on a positive however, so your employee doesn’t feel discouraged to try it again in the future.

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