How to manage home workers

Working from home is now the norm, but not everyone has found it easy to transition out of the office. It’s particularly challenging for managers, who find they have to adopt new methods to get the best out of their teams.

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A big priority in managing a team that’s fully or partly based at home is to remember that there are many benefits from home working, including better work-life balance, reduced absenteeism and increased productivity. It’s an approach that works for both employer and home worker.

Here are eight tips on how to manage home workers.

1. Clarity of goals

When you’re not working alongside your team on a daily basis, it’s even more important that everyone recognises what they are aiming for. Clear targets have to be set and regularly monitored.

2. Set expectations.

Make sure that everyone is clear about how they should be working: for example that childcare is in place, the working hours where you expect people to be available each day and that team members have a dedicated workspace.

3. Create a sense of team.

Home-working employees are at risk of feeling isolated, and you as a manager must work harder to make sure they are included. Your colleagues should be offered regular training, company updates and opportunities to socialise and catch up informally with colleagues. A weekly team video meeting is a good way to enable this, and you might also consider regular face-to-face meetings, coffee mornings or evening socials.

4. Find and use appropriate tools

Good collaboration doesn’t have to mean back-to-back Teams calls. There are a vast array of collaborative tools that help everyone keep up with live developments, shared documents and project progression. Take time to discover the most suitable tools and make sure everyone fully understands how to use them.

5. Health and Safety

Managers are responsible for checking remote employees’ workstations against Health & Safety regulations. Make sure they are guided to do so by your Health & Safety team, or ensure your organisation puts in place a formal checklist for remote workers.

6. One-to-one meetings

Schedule regular meetings with each member of your team individually. There should be three areas of focus to each meeting: how they are performing against their goals – with feedback on both sides; how they are doing from a skills/development perspective and whether they have any learning needs; and how they are personally – a focus on health and wellbeing. Are they managing stress levels and their working hours?

6. Motivation, not instruction

Engage your remote team through coaching rather than instructing. Help them feel that they are contributing to the organisation’s overall strategy, and why their role is important.

7. Keep Evaluating

Monitor performance and constantly evaluate how well your approach is working. Don’t be afraid to make changes if tools, processes or team players aren’t achieving the desired results. Discuss alternatives and involve your team in driving improvements.

8. Keep an open mind

Being a good manager requires acceptance of diversity – everyone has their own values, strengths and weaknesses. Recognise what everyone brings to the party and be flexible about how you work with them to achieve your goals. People who work remotely can have varying views on time management and attitudes to working outside office hours can vary. Remember that flexibility is important when managing remote teams.

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