man working remotely

Remote Work Struggles: How to Keep the Communication Lines Open

It’s almost two years into the pandemic. It may have been tough for employees to adjust to the remote work setup. But, it’s even tougher for managers to supervise their teams out of office. After all, it’s been a challenge for businesses to continue operations in the pandemic.

According to a new survey conducted by Digital.com among small businesses, 45% of employers said their employees’ productivity decreased on a remote work setup. Meaning, while tasks get completed, efficiency is still much better when they are office-based.

According to some reports, remote work is still the number one option for employees even after the pandemic. According to the 2021 Work Trend Index by Microsoft Corporation, 73% of respondents from 31 countries still want to work remotely. FlexJobs’ survey also found that 58% of employees are willing to resign if they cannot work from home.

The challenge remains for companies to continue operations without a central office. The challenge is for managers to improve communication within and to ensure smooth workflow among their employees.

Managers are leaders, in the first place

Most companies can operate remotely. But, not all companies can operate efficiently.

It depends on how good the company’s managers are in handling teams. It is a skill for managers to be able to oversee all aspects of the job. It is a challenge for them to ensure that the employees still communicate to achieve the company’s goals. Because people are doing their jobs separately, there might be a tendency to lax or to do things on their own. The goal for managers is to weave all these tasks together and make sure all tasks are done towards one goal.

As cliché as it may sound, communication is always the key. The problem is, not all managers are good at communication.

According to a survey conducted by Deloitte Insights, almost all respondents said their companies had the right tools to operate remotely. At least 73% said that their team managers have the necessary tools to lead the teams even out of the office. However, 47% of the respondents said that their companies are exerting more effort to motivate employees. But, they still believe that communication can still be improved.

This is then a challenge for companies to train their managers. This is especially true now that remote work might still be implemented post-pandemic. Leadership coaching can go a long way for managers in making sure work gets done despite the distance.

Communication tools are available online and are effective. The secret is for managers to get on a personal level of communication with the employees, given the difficult times of this pandemic. What, then, should managers do? Here are some tips:

man in a video call

· Check in with your employees.

Yes, you have the software where the whole team can communicate. Everyone checks in daily for attendance. And, as a manager, you check the logs and see who goes in and who doesn’t. But, do you know how they are doing? Do you know how they are with their tasks? No, unless you check in on them from time to time and ask how they are. Talking to them personally and reaching out to them first is valuable to every employee.

· Establish a feedback platform.

There’s always a tendency to take communication for granted, especially in a remote work setup. People work on their own and don’t get to see each other, so it is easy to assume everything is going well. As a manager, you shouldn’t just be output-driven. You also have to be process-driven, and good communication is part of the process. Let your employees know that you are reachable when they have concerns. This will be easy for you to check and troubleshoot.

· Give commendations.

Nothing is more priceless for employees than a simple commendation from their managers. More than the plus points at work, it is more of appreciation for the hard work for the company even in the middle of a pandemic. A simple email of recognition will do but be sure to make it more personal. Personal recognition is more heartfelt than any token from the company.

Break down the barriers of the remote work setup. Also, take down the walls between managers and employees. Your team should be comfortable communicating with you. Listen so that they may raise concerns and issues that might help the company improve its workflow. By knowing them personally and hearing it from them, you will have a good grasp of how things are doing on the ground. Now, that’s the magic of a skilled leader.

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