2020 saw the majority of UK office workers working from home full time. And now, 43 of the UK’s biggest employers1 have said that they have no plans to bring their staff back full time so it looks like remote working, at least in part, is here to stay.
However, remote working brings new challenges many employers have not had to face before – one of the biggest being team management. New research2 from Office Furniture Online has found that three in four UK employees who have worked from home for the majority of the last 12 months (77%) experienced some sort of managerial problem.
The most common problems people faced with their managers while working from home were:
- Misunderstandings due to no face-to-face communication (54%)
- Lack of leadership & Micromanagement (42%)
- Employees mental health not considered by their manager (26%)
How can you manage effectively whilst working remotely?
Over the last year, many business owners and managers were thrown into a world of new rules with no guidance on how to navigate them.
Mark Taylor, Managing Director at Office Furniture Online, comments:
“It is clear that the pandemic has impacted how we work and has resulted in long-term changes to how many businesses will function. As our research shows, many workers have experienced some sort of managerial issues whilst working from home.”
“Working remotely has its difficulties, but thankfully it is still possible to effectively manage your employees and look after your staff’s mental health even when outside of the office – with the right guidance.”
Based on our findings that over a quarter (26%) of people feel as though their mental health hasn’t been considered while working from home, we spoke to Career Coach from Leap and Leadership, Joanna Blazinska, for further insight into the importance of looking after employee wellbeing and mental health, and to get her top tips on how managers can improve on this.
1. Offer praise
An employee’s wellbeing predicts their performance – when people feel respected and appreciated, they work better, both as an individual and as part of the team. Working from home is a big change from the buzz of an office and people can often feel isolated from others; therefore, making sure to recognise good work is a great way to motivate your entire team.
2. Be understanding and approachable
Mental health is no longer a taboo subject and is a particularly important point of discussion during difficult times like the pandemic. Not only should managers educate themselves on the topic and have measures in place, but during check-ins with the team, managers should make sure to ask how the team is doing outside of work too. Acknowledging employees will build a deeper connection and sense of belonging which in turn supports positive wellbeing.
3. Establish a level of trust
Of course, managing remotely proposes some issues, as you aren’t able to see what your team is doing as clearly as when you’re in the office; however, in this new era, it’s all about the outcomes, not the hours spent generating them. Therefore, you need to trust that your employees can work efficiently on their own and will come to you themselves should they need anything. Essentially, you need to be able to maintain a good level of communication without micromanaging anyone.
From the initial hiring process, be sure to gravitate towards employees who you can trust to get their work done, without constant supervision.
4. Set goals and expectations
Being clear about what you expect is one of the first things you need to be telling your team. As such, setting goals for each employee allows them to know exactly what you expect of them and gives them something to work towards. Clear priorities will also help remove noise and allow people the space and time to focus on work and their mental state. Managers should encourage self-management and self-leadership.
5. Focus on good communication
As evidenced by the research from Office Furniture Online, working remotely can often result in poor communication, ambiguity, and a lack of understanding.
As a leader, staying in frequent contact with your team is crucial in ensuring that the team is functioning at its best and that everyone knows what they are doing – from basic tasks, feedback, and deadlines, to updates, struggles, and celebrating wins.
6. Offer them a comfortable working environment
If your employees are working from home, it’s up to you as a business leader to ensure they are as comfortable as possible. Not every staff member will have a ready-to-go home office, so it’s worth discovering what your staff members need to be comfortable when working from home. On top of that, a 9-5 schedule doesn’t always make sense when working from home, so allowing for flexible working hours can help your employees perform better.
For more information on the research and more top tips on how to effectively manage employees out of the office, please visit: https://www.officefurnitureonline.co.uk/blog/how-to-manage-remote-workers-according-to-their-personality-type/ ;