Managing Staff Performance When Working Remotely.

Article by Tim Hatari

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Are your current methods of managing the performance of your staff still appropriate whilst they are working from home? Understanding the challenges of working remotely will help you decide upon any required changes.

Blending flexible working with allowing staff to work one or two days a week from home, is proven to be beneficial, however five days per week may be another matter. Initially, business owners were concerned that the productivity and performance of their staff would be diminished.

Remote Working Challenges

Absence of face-to-face supervision. The idea that most employees will work just as productively without the face-to-face supervision, is still something managers fear. The bigger issue seems to be that employees struggle with the lack of contact with their managers, feeling that they are less contactable as a result of managers are working remotely.

Miscommunication. When out of the office, emails become the main mode of communication. Without the ability to read body language and observe a co-worker’s mood, the written word can be misinterpreted. Working from home can cause additional stress, especially when family distractions are causing problems with concentration. The result can be an email fired off that is unintentionally blunt or unprofessional.

Loneliness. It’s not until you work from home that you appreciate how important the social aspect of the office is. Understanding individual personalities is key, knowing that some will thrive on spending long periods of time on their own and others will feel extremely isolated, is another important aspect in the equation. How do your staff feel about the changes?

Home environment. Having the right technology has a significant impact on the ability for employees to be productive and continue to perform as expected. The home working environment will range from those with a comfortable office to others perched on a sofa or sharing the dining room table with housemates. This may present legitimate productivity hurdles that need to be appreciated in any performance management discussions.

Managing and Supporting Employees Working from Home

Key areas to focus on:

Daily Contact. Establish a regular time of day to catch up. This could be a 15-minute team huddle at the beginning and end of each day. Diarise one-to-one calls at a set time of the day or week. This ensures that all employees have the opportunity to ask questions and gain the support they need.

Communicating via Video. Zoom and Microsoft Teams make team meetings easy to arrange and run, they allow you to keep the social side of communication.

Set Boundaries. One of the problems when working from home is that the lines between work time and personal time become blurred. Personal time outside of work hours must be respected and protected. Set communication expectations so that it’s understood when it is acceptable to contact a colleague and when you are available to be contacted.

Mental health. Mental health awareness in the workplace is a topic that’s increasingly appearing on the board agenda. Working from home adds a complexity to the emotional state of your employees. Times of change tend to heighten stress and anxiety, so it is important that any changes – including those imposed upon you, are changes managed effectively. Every business has a responsibility to keep employees informed and feeling positive for the future.