Due to the changing corporate climate and structure that challenges many business today, let’s discuss how to manage and properly screen at home employees.

Covid-19 has provided the world with an unexpected and sudden crash course in working remotely, or at home.  Fortunately, without great effort, there are specific research-based steps that companies and managers can take to improve the engagement and productivity of remote employees.

Initially, companies must understand the factors that make remote working especially demanding.  Challenges inherent in remote work include:  Lack of face-to-face supervision; Lack of access to information; Social isolation; and, Distractions at home. 

That said, how can companies and their management staff support remote employees? Below are actions that companies can take today to ease the global and unplanned work-from-home transition. 

Foremost, establish structured daily check-ins.  Many successful remote managers establish a daily call with their work at home employees. It is important that the calls are regular, predictable, in a forum in which employees know they can consult with you, and their concerns and questions will be heard.  

Next, provide several different communication technology options.  Email alone is insufficient.  Visual conferencing can give workers visual cues that they would have if they were face-to-face.  Also, visual conferencing feels more personal than written or audio-only communication. For simpler, less formal and/or time sensitive communications, provide mobile-enabled individual messaging functionality like Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc.

Then establish rules of engagement.  Remote work becomes more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing for communications.  These rules of engagement with employees should be established by managers as soon as possible.

One of the most essential steps a company and managers can take is to structure ways for at home employees to interact socially.  The easiest way to establish social interaction is to leave some time at the beginning of team calls for non-work related talks of weekend plans, etc.  These small events help reduce feelings of isolation, and promote a sense of belonging.

Last, in this abrupt shift to remote work, it is important for managers to acknowledge stress, listen to employees’ anxieties and concerns, and empathize with their struggles.  I add my note of encouragement for companies facing remote work for the first time:  you’ve got this.