Making the most out of the work-from-home experience
As we find ourselves on what hopefully seems to be the tail end of the pandemic, remote work is still prevalent in a multitude of organizations. Throughout the course of the past year, we’ve written an abundance of resources on topics revolving around remote work during the pandemic, ranging from remote employee appreciation to helping manage pandemic-related stress. However, there is one crucial aspect of remote work that isn’t discussed as much. A work-from-home structure requires an incredible amount of trust in your team. They may be handling confidential information from their own home computers or networks, thus posing an obvious security risk. To look at something with less potential severity, productivity from home has also been a major concern throughout the course of COVID-19, so you need to be able to trust that your team can and will accomplish whatever needs to be done. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the “Do’s and Don’ts” for building trust with your remote employees so that you can make the most out of the work-from-home experience!
It’s important that your employees feel trusted enough to work independently. However, we all need some extra help from time to time. Working remotely should not mean that they have less access to that help. To rest assured that your remote employees are on track, you first need to ensure that you’re providing them with everything they need and that you’re there for them along the way!
When distance is a factor, crystal clear communication is the key to keeping things running smoothly. From the start, make sure you are undoubtedly clear about the goals your organization is striving to achieve, the values you carry, and the initiatives to get the organization where it needs to go. If your remote team is on the same page about the mission at hand, that makes trusting them easier. They know that you’re on the same team.
Your team is your investment. Therefore, extend something to them that shows that initial baseline of trust. Once your remote employees receive this, they’ll be way more likely to extend the same courtesy back to you! This action can be as simple as reiterating that there will be no micromanaging and that the team is trusted to handle their business on their own. Just like respect, trust is a two-way street.
Obviously, you’re way more likely to trust someone that you know or at least are familiar with! When everyone’s at home, you have to prioritize the social aspect of work to keep those connections alive. This is why having virtual events such as happy hours, socials, and even introductory ice breakers is a fantastic idea! By doing so, your team is more likely to be trusting of not only you, but of each other as well.
It’s time to understand that more time spent does not necessarily equal more productivity achieved. We all understand that sometimes, we definitely don’t need the entire workday to accomplish our designated tasks. Especially if you have teams working remotely, it’s counterproductive to base productivity on screen time. As long as daily initiatives are being met, there is really no solid reason to do this.
A better, less invasive way to “keep tabs” on what sites your team is visiting, consider restricting certain sites instead. A common theme for the “Don’ts” section is that these measures are, for lack of a better term, icky. You have to trust the team that you hired. If not, why are they on board? Your employees are not your children – there’s no need to monitor their every move online!
While there may be specific instances where this action is necessary, such as when an employee may be accessing confidential organization information or company financial accounts, there’s no need to require them to be on camera while going about their daily work. Productivity looks different for everyone. For some, it’s sitting at a desk for the whole day. For others, like myself, it may be laying on the couch with the TV playing and taking breaks to move around and breathe! Less rigid working requirements are likely to boost productivity, as a camera requirement is stressful and honestly, an invasion of privacy.
We’re human. Things happen. Mistakes are a part of life, and certainly a part of work. What really matters is how you and your team respond when something doesn’t go according to plan. Jumping to conclusions and pinning blame is a sure-shot way to destroy any connection with the party in question, especially if you’re wrong. Instead, use mistakes as opportunities to learn and grow together as a team.
Trust is the foundation of any good relationship, and the relationship between a company and its employees is no exception. Remember ,if you don’t feel as though you can fully trust someone to follow the expectations of your organization, don’t hire them! Build a team full of trustworthy and reliable people so that you can loosen the reins a bit and let independent remote work be just that – independent.