Working from home may be a foreign concept to you and your team – especially for the lengths of time we’re having to due to COVID-19. Don’t worry though, there are lots of things you can do to manage your team from home as best as you can - even if it's your second time round this year!
Equip your team with what they need
First things first, you need to make sure every member in your team has all the equipment they need to do their job. It can be easy to assume that everybody has a mobile phone and good internet access, but some people may not – so just ask the question.
You’re probably going to have to send people home with laptops set up with software like VPNs to make sure they can access files from the main system, at the very least. A good way to make sure everyone has what they need is to make a list and get everyone to check off what they already have and what they need. Then you can go and delight the IT department with their requests!
Communication is everything
Potentially the most challenging thing for most people when working from home is communication – and not just the volume, but the quality of it. Here’s some ways to stay connected to and manage your team:
Whether it’s by video call, phone call or even instant message systems like Slack, you should make time to communicate with your team members every day. This way you can delegate tasks and explain what everyone’s going to be doing on the day. With self-isolation and social distancing coming into effect around us, it’s also important to check that your team members are feeling ok, both mentally and physically. Even if they are feeling fine in themselves from a physical health perspective, they may be struggling with their new work at home environment – so just check in.
You may be able to help them with some problems, e.g. they may need to go and pick up their children at 3pm and then finish up their work when they get back, or they may be confused as to what you expect them to do at home and need more communication from you. Just ask the question!
Need to get those creative juices flowing but finding email chains less than helpful? Get everyone together to have a group phone or video chat to hash out some ideas – just like you would at work.
Don’t worry so much about having children or pets in the background. You’ll naturally want to limit this but at the end of the day, everyone is human. It might be refreshing for your team to see some of your home life – however embarrassing it may seem at the time!
Endless email chains can be annoying at the best of times, but at least when you’re in an office, you can go and talk to people to clarify certain things, etc. But when you’re working from home you obviously can’t do that. A good alternative to manage your team is an instant messenger like Skype or Slack which allows you to have more of an informal ‘chat’ – and a funny gif usually goes down well!
It doesn’t all have to be about work either, you should be maintaining good relationships with your team just like you would at work and a good chat is just what you need sometimes.
Stay flexible and trust your team
With everything going on in the world at the moment with the COVID-19 outbreak, it is a little unreasonable to expect people to work in exactly the same way as they would in their usual office environment.
People may find their job is harder when working from home, so make sure you keep reviewing their situation and help them in any way you can. Others will find working from home the same or even easier than being in the office, but may not be able to stick to their 9-5 schedule due to childcare, caring for relatives, etc.
It may be a good idea to switch the focus from ‘time’ to ‘productivity’ because if people are still their jobs done, it shouldn’t matter too much if they need to pop out during the day. Just stay in contact and try to be understanding, as your team will thank you for it and continue to work hard for you.
Last updated: 02 November 2020