As we enter the second round of Covid-19 lockdown, managing and supporting remote workers is still a fairly new challenge for a lot of managers. Remote working throws up a whole new range of issues both for employees and their managers. Businesses need to ensure that their managers have the tools and insights required to support workers effectively and sensitively.
Many workers have discovered that they enjoy a new level of autonomy and productivity from working remotely, but others feel lost, unmotivated and too easily distracted. Some will need much more support and active management than others. Managers need to assess the needs of individual workers and to understand the opportunities and challenges that may be presented by having a team that is now required to work remotely. They need to know the difference between checking-up and checking-in and which workers need what sort of contact and how frequently. These may be ‘soft skills’ but the value of making sure that your managers possess them cannot be overstated.
The physical and mental wellbeing of staff is undoubtedly harder to manage when most or all of the team are forced to work remotely. Good, effective and transparent communication is essential. Working in isolation or comparative isolation can lead to burnout, exhaustion and increased anxiety. Many employees will be concerned as to the future of their employment and the risk of redundancy, but there are many other issues that can arise from working remotely during lockdown. For example:
- Having the right technical equipment
- Having an appropriate and safe working environment
- Access to data and resources needed to work effectively
- Financial concerns caused by reduced pay
- Lack of social interaction
- Lack of visibility damaging promotion or advancement prospects
Managers may also need to have difficult conversations with employees about decreasing productivity, perceived lack of capability, unfavourable changes to working conditions, disciplinary issues or even as to the future of employment. These can be hard enough to manage well face to face, but managing them remotely can be a massive challenge.
Businesses must be alive to these challenges and invest time and money in improving management capability and soft communication skills. Having a difficult conversation with an employee is not just about communicating what the business wants or needs. More often than not, the most important part of having an effective difficult conversation is listening to what the other person has to say and responding appropriately. These are skills that can be acquired through training.
Utilising Mediation skills & effective communication techniques
Mediation Rescue offers management training in managing these Virtual conversations and equipping managers with the communication skills of how to engage positively during the challenges of the new ‘Hybrid’ Working environment.