Tips for Managing Virtual Staff During Covid
Many people are finding themselves working remotely for the first time ever. We don’t actually know how long employees will be working in a virtual environment, so if you’re a manager, it’s worth making sure you have some best practices for your team.
Any manager will tell you that face time is important. Can that face time be effective when it happens in a virtual environment? Absolutely! The key is making sure your team feels connected, supported, and set up to succeed.
- First, display empathy. It’s important to remember that right now, working from home isn’t the same as when someone works every Friday from home or they are doing so because of appointments. Everyone is facing unusual circumstances, from other people in the house to increased stress. Be conscious that everyone is adapting to their own scenarios. Hold frequent dialogues where you ask staff how they’re doing, and if there’s anything you can do to help them (and mean it).
- Connect face-to-face (digitally). Not everyone likes seeing themselves on camera, and when you’re talking about stuff that isn’t set up to normally work from home, there could be pets, kids, and household noises in the mix. Still, encourage using the video function when conferencing. It helps people to feel connected and allows everyone to read body language and non-verbal cues like you would in person. We suggest embracing minor distractions and making people feel comfortable in their own environments.
- Over communicating is better than going quiet. There’s a difference between micromanaging and checking in to make sure resources are aligned on key projects and deadlines. Without being able to see each other, we often miss those small daily updates that show progress. It’s ok to find these touch-points in other ways. Also, it’s ok to admit if you don’t have answers. Your team would rather have that candid response than none at all. Don’t know when people will be allowed back in the office? You can say so.
- Ensure you have the right tools. Remote communication is going to look different at every company, but the success of your efforts depends on the tools at your disposal. Whether you’re using a voice, video, or call center solution, ensure you have one that meets your company’s unique goals. High-quality audio and video are table stakes, but also look into security, reliability, and support. Voxtell offers 99.9% uptime, which is crucial for our customers right now.
- Keep a schedule that maximizes productivity. Management sets the tone for how people work. If you plan to remain efficient, it’s important to set that expectation with your team. Have certain hours every day where everyone is expected to be online and able to communicate. Also set an expectation for reasonable response times. With children at home and many other disruptions, maybe immediately responding to a call isn’t realistic - but within an hour probably should be. Also, encourage people to have a set schedule and work from the same place each day (preferably with as little disruption as possible).
- Allow time for breaks and encourage socializing. At the same time, you need to encourage good mental health habits. Many people who work remotely full time say there are blurred lines between work and downtime. Make sure your team knows it’s ok to step away and they should build in natural breaks, just as they would at the office when going to grab a coffee or stopping by a colleague’s office for a chat. You can also set up some virtual happy hours or social events so that people can stay in touch in a personal, non-work-related way. Don’t schedule it for after-hours at a time when people are already feeling stretched. Invite everyone to power down at 3 pm on Friday, grab a beverage, and log in to a video conference just to share weekend plans and have a laugh.
Transitioning to a remote work environment is hard for even the most seasoned teams, but strong management and seamless communication are the keys. Voxtell is offering a special right now to allow companies to try out our business communication solutions and discover the difference that the right tools can make in their virtual work environments.