John Woollam, Chief Executive of Euphoria Telecom.
Photo: Supplied
John Woollam, Chief Executive of Euphoria Telecom. Photo: Supplied

Managing remote workers - it’s not about time, it’s about output

By John Woollam Time of article published May 12, 2020

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DURBAN - The coronavirus pandemic is challenging organisations and leaders to change the way they run their operations and manage their employees.

Where remote working initiatives would normally be planned, with set guidelines and parameters, the pace at which companies across the globe have had to send employees home has meant that to a large extent it’s been a scramble.

“This puts both organisations and their teams in a position where they are operating in unfamiliar territory, with no clear ruleset. And then there’s the operational and financial consequences of the lockdown, which are placing enormous pressure on the entire economy and threatening businesses livelihoods.

To manage effectively and keep their companies on course through the crisis, business leaders need to change the way they think about employees, and how they engage and manage them.

Here are a few things to consider:

How are you feeling? Do regular emotional checks on yourself and your teams. Ask people often how they are feeling and how they are coping, and understand that people who are stressed and fearful aren’t operating optimally - and that includes you. 

Check-in regularly - Establish regular check-ins with your team members, whether that is via a quick call or video conference. Use the time to discuss ongoing challenges, issues, and flags, and to consult and share ideas. 

Take your time - Working remotely means that things that could ordinarily be done quickly - like asking your colleague next to you a question - will take more time and effort. Managers need to factor this into their expectations, and communicate this to their teams. 

Measure output not hours - Time behind a desk isn’t necessarily productive time, and managers need to critically analyse what constitutes delivery to an acceptable level, and ensure their teams know what the expectation is. 

Face facts - Face to face time is critical for remote workforces, where it is very easy for people to feel lonely and isolated. Scheduling virtual work drinks, or quiz nights, or even just a morning coffee once a week is critical to keep relationships thriving, and your teams working productively.

Find the right tools - Ensure your teams have the best technological set up possible from the get go, and make sure things that aren’t working are addressed quickly. A temporarily slow internet connection can quickly cause a permanently bad attitude to remote working - to the detriment of the person and the company. 

It’s almost impossible to say how long the coronavirus pandemic will necessitate enforced lockdowns and social distancing measures. Organisations and business leaders need to accept that this is the ‘new normal’, and take proactive steps to create an enabling and supportive environment for their people. How you treat your employees now will ultimately determine your long-term success in the post Covid-19 world.  

John Woollam is the Chief Executive of Euphoria Telecom.

BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE

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