Let’s face it: running a company without face-to-face contact is difficult.

At least, it’s difficult for those of us used to working in a more traditional setting. The quick (but necessary) transition many of us have made from working in an office to working remotely is forcing people all around the world to figure out how best to stay productive in an entirely new environment.

While some companies and managers are going to be ahead of others in terms of their work-from-home capabilities, we’re all in this together. If you’re a manager and trying to figure out how best to manage your team, we think these tips will help you out while we all work from home:

  • Meet employees where they are. With daycares closing, pets at home, and people’s entire routines being upended, it’s essential for managers to understand everyone’s context and respect the fact that employees are likely having a hard time with this transition, too. Through this lens, small hang-ups and issues seem a lot less important. Empathy is essential.
  • Trust. Similarly, trust is essential. Employees are going to work at different times, get up to check the mail or go on a walk, and probably slack off a little bit more than you’re used to. Don’t tolerate mediocrity, but do assume that everyone is acting with good intentions. Once again, we’re all in this together.
  • Give everyone access to the same tools. Whether this means making sure that Joe and Barbara both have access to a laptop or iPad outside of the office, or that your entire team has access to the same suite of apps (in which case, you’ve come to the right place), giving everyone the same set of tools puts your whole team on a level playing field. This will go a long way towards keeping productivity up, and employee frustration down.
  • Be flexible. This goes with all of the tips above. Employees will probably work different hours than usual, and may have to take a break to take care of the kids or solve a problem that wouldn’t come up in an office setting. Managing a team that’s working from home inherently requires flexibility, so make sure you’re ready for that change as your employees transition to a remote work setting.
  • Consider regular check-ins. Without the chance to chat with employees by the water cooler or brainstorm a new idea while walking to get a coffee, it’s important to give employees the opportunity to share ideas and make sure everyone is on the same page. Instant chat tools are good for this, but we still advocate for regular video meetings (most ideal) or conference calls (in a pinch) to give employees the opportunity to catch up about work–and leisure.

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that your employees are making sacrifices to adapt to this new method of work just like you are. The transition won’t be perfect, and you’re going to make mistakes, but that’s okay.

Have tips for how you manage employees in a work-from-home environment? Post them in the comments–we’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Aleksi Tappura on Unsplash