As soon as the COVID-19 outbreak reached the United States, I implemented a voluntary Work-From-Home policy to ensure the health and safety of our staff, as well remain productive in a chaotic economic situation. While my company has long had a liberal work remote policy, most of our staff still comes into the office. This literally changed overnight and as all the self-quarantine lengthened, I worried about the ability of the department management to remain efficient and engaged with work responsibilities. With that in mind, I added some training in my company to aid management for oversight of remote staff. I put some information below as it may be a help to others as we move through this crisis.
Rule #1 – Set Expectations
Rule #2 – Communication is Key
- Video conferences work better than phone conferences. People are more attentive in meetings when they are seen and can see others.
- Set meetings in the morning. It sets the tone for the coming workdays and gets staff thinking about tasks, deliverables, and scheduling.
- Set aside time at the beginning of meetings for “pleasantries”. Remember, a lot of your staff is working alone, some basic human interaction goes a long way to keep them engaged. (plus it is just a nice thing to do!)
- Avoid long email threads. If staff are reading emails, they are not doing constructive work. Limit email threads to only 4 iterations at a maximum. We should handle anything more than that in a call or meeting.
- Send amusing and/or helpful notes as needed. Managers need to keep team members focused and involved, but a little humor eases stress or boredom.
- Cardinal rule: When in doubt, over-communicate! While remote staff are, well, remote, they want to know they are not forgotten. Communication is key to make that issue never occurs!