April 22, 2020

How to Manage Working from Home Effectively

Finance Leadership
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If you’re a manager or business leader who has some or all of their team working from home, then you may be looking for the best ways to manage from home. In an office setting, leading an organisation has its fair share of challenges. But, when your team is working remotely, there’s a whole new set of considerations that come into play. 

Learning how to manage from home is a new way to work. As such, there are some best practices to follow. 

Here’s a guideline on ways to manage from home effectively. 

Common Challenges of Remote Work 

A remote team may mean that just one, some or all employees are not together in the same office. As a manager, this can create some novel hurdles to overcome. 

Take a look at some of the most common challenges (and potential solutions) that your organisation/team is likely to face when working from home:

  • Lack of face-to-face oversight: One of the biggest challenges that both employees and managers cite when working remotely is the lack of face-to-face communication. From a management standpoint, you may be concerned that an employee without oversight may slack off and be less productive. As an employee, there may be concerns about accessibility to management and support when problems or questions arise. 

Potential solution: There are several good solutions to overcome this challenge. One way to do so would be to schedule regular check-ins between managers and employees to touch base on productivity. Managers can provide their team with the best ways to get in contact and set up collaborative and instant messaging solutions like Slack, for example. 

  • Social isolation: Both managers and employees may complain that working from home can feel isolating and lonely. The ambience and human connection that a workplace affords between colleagues cannot be replaced. And, over an extended amount of time, this social isolation could also lead employees to lose morale and feel like their work matters less than it does. 

Potential solution: With remote workers within the same geographic region, you can consider doing monthly get-togethers and setting up days where the team can work together physically. If this isn’t an option, then you can do social happy hours over video conferencing, just like you may do in person with your team to boost communication and have fun together. 

  • Home distractions: Working from home can be rife with distractions. Whether it is digital distractions, family, pets, or the desire to do anything but work, transitioning to working from home can also make these distractions feel more significant than they are until there’s a consistent routine. 

Potential solution: The first solution for at-home distractions as a manager is to practice patience and understanding. Then, it’s to offer support, however possible. If an employee has kids at home that they have to take care of, consider providing flexibility in terms of working hours. If that’s not an option, ask your employee what kind of tools or equipment may help lessen distractions within their home. 

  • Lack of access to information: Both employees and managers want access to vital information when working from home. If an employee is storing data on their desktops rather than a shared drive or within a shared automation tool, then the business can be affected. 

Potential Solution: One way to avoid any information being lost is to set up specific work from home guidelines for your team and outline processes. Using an automation tool for work processes can help to alleviate this concern because you can store data all in one centralised location that is accessible by all who need to use it. 

  • Bottlenecks: Going hand-in-hand with access to information is the challenge of bottlenecks arising from home. Let’s take the financial industry as an example. Often to get an invoice paid, the invoice must be reconciled and then go through various stages to be approved for payment. If people are working in different locations, you would worry that the invoice process would be slowed if it were to be stuck at any point in the process. 

Potential solution: Implement an automation software tool, like SolveXia, to handle repetitive tasks or tasks that rely on several key people. This way, the process will never be at risk of being held back because the system allows it to flow smoothly and work gets done in the order it should be managed. These tools map out processes, removing critical person dependency and connect with all legacy and current data systems. They also have the added benefit of providing real-time analytics and trend analysis so you can always see the performance and risks consistently and accurately as it happens.


How to Manage and Support Your Team 

From wherever you work, managers play a crucial role in maintaining employee morale and productivity. When you have a team working from home, you have to display full support, practice active listening and stay in constant communication. 

Here is a checklist of best practices to support your remote team: 

  • Schedule check-ins via email, screen shares or productivity reports 
  • Offer various communication options for your team to get in touch with you 
  • Establish rules and guidelines for how to work best from home 
  • Set up remote social interaction via video conferencing and instant messaging 
  • Set productivity standards and expectations 
  • Create a cheatsheet/guidelines for common problems or processes that your team can refer back to as a resource
  • Encourage engagement by connecting with your team 

Things to Do 

As a manager, you likely already know all of this, but remember to: 

  • Be open
  • Stay organised
  • Show empathy (especially when you have a remote team of workers who are all working under distinctive circumstances) 
  • Be trustful
  • Be patient
  • Show your appreciation 
  • Break the rules! (when you have a team working from home, especially under unforeseen circumstances, you may have to try new tactics and set up new processes together. Don’t be afraid to try something new). 

What NOT to Do 

With some or all of your team working from home, you have to practice patience and understanding. One of the surefire ways to have your team members become resentful is if you micromanage them and expect business to flow exactly as it would within an office setting. 

Your utmost concern should be that your team is getting their work done responsibly and timely. You should also make sure that they feel supported and have all they need to do their job right. This means that you should stick to this shortlist of “don’ts”: 

  • Don’t micromanage: Instead, schedule expected check-ins so that your team members can prepare everything they need to share with you before the call or check-in happens. If you continuously are touching base with them and doubting their work, not only do you risk lessening their morale, but you also are creating distractions as they try to remain productive. 
  • Don’t expect 8 to 5: If specific online time isn’t paramount to your business’ operations, try to be flexible about when your team is online and working. There may be circumstances outside their control when they work from home, so instead of focusing so much on hours, focus more on communication. Or, if an 8 to 5 is still expected or 9 to 6, then encourage breaks or allow for them to make up any missed time on different days (based on their schedule or situation). 
  • Don’t let them work too much: It seems strange to say this, but don’t let your teamwork too much. When people work from home, it’s easy to forget to separate work life and home life. Make sure that you verbalise the importance of taking breaks and logging off at the end of the workday. 

The Bottom Line 

Being a manager has its fair share of hurdles. Not only will you be met with different personalities, but you will likely have to manage employees in your team, as well as maintain upwards. When you have a team working from home, a new set of challenges will arise. 

Remember to remain patient and open-minded when transitioning your team to work from home. Take advantage of automation tools that can make your life easier by providing you with real-time analytics and reports on the state of your business. Use communication tools to stay in touch with your team. Last but not least, try to create fun activities that help to keep employee morale boosted! 

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