What Do Employers and Employees Need to Know?
These day most work gets done remotely. The problem is many employers have not created a workforce around the ability to work remotely from home. Today’s blog provides advice for employers and employees while we are shuttered at home due to the coronavirus.
Let’s start with advice from the experts. According to Sean Graber, writing in the Harvard Business Review, the success of a remote team comes down to three core principles: communication, coordination, and culture. So, what does this mean and what are the implications in the workplace?
Even though work is done remotely, employees should be clear on the goals of each project; their assignments; reporting responsibilities; and expectations of the employer. These goals should be consistent with the overall mission of the organization.
Advice for Employers
Employers need to hire people who have worked remotely before or train them how to do so. There is nothing like experience because it creates a comfort level when working remotely. A competent remote worker will feel like the project can be completed successfully. They will be self-motivated.
There are a variety of programs that help to run meetings remotely including, GoToMeeting, Zoom, Cisco WebEx, Skype, and Microsoft Teams. Employers should communicate which online meeting software will be used and, of course, the log-in instructions. I have used all of them and have found Zoom to be easy to use and navigate.
One negative of having online meetings instead of office work is it is more difficult to coordinate work and create the kind of culture desired. As Graber points out, it is difficult to hire for culture in remote settings, in part due to the lack of face-time.
Culture is about shared values. Some employees may be self-starters and need little help to work effectively online. Others may need some training and hand-holding. Some employees may have a strong work ethic and will be successful simply because they will not allow themselves to fail to live up to expectations. Others, not so much.
Advice for Employees
If mistakes have been made while working remotely, such as missing an important appointment or deadline, employees should admit it, learn from it, and do not dwell on the mistake. Move on to the next part of the assignment/project. Employees should document the mistake: what went wrong; were instructions followed; did you check the calendar for due date.
Understanding what happened will help you to not make the mistake again in the future. Pay Scale, a career advice platform, points out there is a distance bias, which means that “remote workers’ pay a price for being less connected. This is the tendency to place lesser value or importance on people that are further away.
One suggestion to overcome the distance bias is to do online networking. This can help to bring employees together, discuss issues of mutual concern, and decide how to bring them to the attention of management. But, do not post negative comments about your employer or the remote working experience as it can create tension and lead to counterproductive results.
Also, if you feel overcommitted with work assignments, which may be the case if a lot of workers have been furloughed or fired, be sure to discuss this with your manager right away, They don’t want you to experience burn out or make more mistakes because of an excessive workload.
Managing remote workers is challenging for employers, to say the least. Organizations should communicate with managers what are the expectations and remote working conditions. These should be communicated clearly with employees. How might it affect the assessment of workers and performance evaluations?
Remote workers need to be self-motivated workers who are good at time management because their work may not be as closely scrutinized as in the office. There are many distractions, not the least of which is having family members sheltered in place with you wanting more of your time. There is less for them to do and few, if any, places to go.
My advice is to set a consistent time each day to complete remote work assignments. I always try to get up early in the morning and stop working in the early afternoon. This gives me enough time for family members, doing chores, exercising, and just clearing my head.
Posted by Steven Mintz, aka Ethics Sage, on April 28, 2020. Dr. Mintz recently published a book Beyond Happiness and Meaning: Transforming Your Life Through Ethical Behavior that is available on Amazon. You can sign up for his newsletter and learn more about his activities at: https://www.stevenmintzethics.com/. Follow him on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/StevenMintzEthics.