Working from Home: Part 4 – Managers, How Can You Support Your Staff While They Work Remotely?

Adapting to new and difficult situations can be daunting and very challenging. The world’s gone through a lot of changes lately, with surely even more to come. While many employees are adjusting to the challenges of working from home, you as a manager also need to figure out how to support them.

Thank you for sticking with us during this series on Working from Home. If this is your first time reading one of our Working from Home articles, we invite you to read our other topics about:

  1. Working from Home – The New Normal
  2. Working from Home – With Kids 
  3. How to Focus on Self-Development During These Times 

Wouldn’t it be great if you had the time to establish clear work-from-home policies and provide the training before all this happened? Unfortunately, that is most likely not the case, and you may now be scrambling to implement some effective strategies.

What can you do to make sure your employees and teams continue to work smoothly, efficiently, and happily from home?

Understand the challenges your employees will be facing.

  • Lack of face-to-face managerial support. They have a question but can’t easily find a solution.
  • Lack of face-to-face advice and information from co-workers. They can’t just reach out to someone else in the office for help with something.
  • Lack of companionship and camaraderie. The office environment often allows for some background ‘hum’ and interaction. Being isolated at home can be upsetting and lonely for many.
  • Lack of focus. There are often numerous distractions at home, and these can slow down work and cause a diminished sense of productivity, along with increased discouragement.

How can you as a manager support your remote workers?

Set up some daily structure. Perhaps make a personal phone call or chat to each employee once a day. Check in to see how they’re feeling and if they have any questions that they need help with. If you can’t do that alone, then perhaps pair up a couple of employees together as buddies. They can communicate daily and provide mutual support using the following:

  • Personal phone calls
  • Chats
  • Buddy system

Don’t rely solely on email for communication. Use other technology as well. For example, videoconferencing can be used to hold discussions and make decisions. That face-to-face contact can be very important to morale and efficiency. You probably already have the technology, so make good use of things like Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom. You can also use a program called Loom, which allows you to create quick training videos that you can share with your staff on demand. (If you haven’t heard of it, look at our short video on YouTube.)

  • Microsoft Teams
  • Slack
  • Zoom
  • Loom for making quick instructional videos

Set up a remote platform that works for you and your team. There are various options for this. Microsoft 365 may be the first thing that comes to mind, but you also have other platforms at your disposal such as Trello or

  • Microsoft 365
  • Trello

Set clear expectations. Everyone is happier when they know what’s expected of them. Set clear expectations for things like work hours, deadlines, scheduled meetings, and response times for email.

  • Work hours
  • Deadlines
  • Scheduled meetings
  • Response times for email

Provide direction for what to do when there’s an urgent question or problem. Should they use the phone, IM, or some other means to reach you in a hurry? What, if any, extra latitude will you allow them for decision-making?

  • Phone
  • IM
  • Permission to make decisions for themselves

Allow time for social interaction during your conversations or meetings. Don’t make it all about business, but instead allow a few minutes before or after any meetings to allow everyone to “check in” with others. We’re social creatures, so allow for that stimulus. Your employees will appreciate the opportunity to spend some virtual time with teammates or colleagues, and it will help to recharge their batteries.

  • Time before and after meetings for general conversations

Be a coach too. Take the time to show personal concern for each of your employees. How are they coping? Is their family OK? What about their elderly parents? What are they doing to stay positive?

  • “How are you coping?”
  • “Is your family doing OK?”
  • “What are you doing to stay positive?”

Don’t be a skeptic. Oftentimes, management are concerned that working remotely will mean the work won’t get done. Many studies have shown otherwise; that working from home can be highly effective and productive. Project the message to your employees that you believe in them and that you’re confident in their work ethic and are happy to help them with any difficulties they encounter. Smile during those videoconference meetings or while talking on the phone. The way you feel will often be projected subconsciously, so share your own positive feelings in your facial expressions and tone of voice.

  • Feel positive about the situation yourself and then project that in your body language

The value of training.

At JN Software and CompuEase we know the value of training and being prepared for every contingency. We provide training on how to best use tools such as Microsoft Teams to communicate remotely. Teams allows you to create cloud-based workspaces, hold meetings, share files and messages, and effectively work as a team while actually working apart. It’s an outstanding tool that can be particularly useful at a time like this.

We have free webinars posted on our website highlighting some of the collaboration tools available. There’s one outlining the benefits of working with Microsoft Teams and another showing how you can use OneDrive to work together on documents in real-time.

Take a look at our Microsoft Teams training courses, all of which can be conducted remotely in a virtual classroom. Talk to us about the training you need and how you’d like to receive it.

Our aim at JN Software and CompuEase is to make sure you’re fully prepared to handle the current situation and support your remote workers with the minimum amount of disruption and fuss.

We hope you found these tips helpful. If you need any more tips to work more efficiently at home, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and/or Twitter to see what training and free tools we offer and for regular updates and announcements. We have been training people across the country virtually for years and we are fully equipped to assist you as well!

Interested in taking training with us? Take a look at the courses we offer and register for public classes on our website! Click here for Ottawa and Quebec, or here for the rest of Canada.
Want to find out more about our software and professional skills training? If you’re located in Ottawa or Quebec, call CompuEase at 613-235-6161 or email us. If you’re located anywhere else in Canada, call JN Software at 416-264-6247 or email us. We’re always happy to answer your questions!
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