Managing Staff Working From Home
Managing staff working from home is something that was forced upon us because of the pandemic.
The pandemic started three years ago, which in terms of working arrangements, caused the most seismic shift in how we work since the industrial revolution. WFH was forced upon us, with anybody armed with a laptop and the need for ‘office work’ finding themselves working 100% of the time from home.
Post-pandemic, a hybrid model evolved, with work split between the office and the home. This helped resolve those ‘isolation’ issues and ‘not feeling part of the team’. Both of these so crucial in developing a sense of belonging and a Team ethos.
However, as time passes, we are seeing more and more employers pushing and even insisting, that staff return to the office.
The most common answer to this question from a management perspective is ‘a lack of control’.
The reality, however, is not that manager’s cannot control their WFH workforce, it is that they don’t know how to. They have never been trained.
So how should you be managing staff working from home?
- You need to manage outputs, not inputs. Set the work tasks (as you would in the office), check your employee understands what is required of them, what the quality standard is and the timescale involved.
- If your member of staff is uncertain of being able to achieve any of these, then put support and training in place until they have the confidence to tackle the task.
- Agree ‘touch points’ or check-in times. Depending upon the complexity of the task and the confidence and experience of the member of staff, this might be daily, bi-daily or even weekly. The touch point chosen should be a timescale that you are both comfortable with.
- Then let them get on with it! When and how they complete the task is up to them. As long at they complete it within the allocated timescale and to the quality required, then that is what matters.
Lack of trust
Another blocker to a manager allowing their staff to work from home is ‘lack of trust’ in the staff member to actually work hard.
However, if you have a member of staff who does not pull their weight, whether they are working from home or working in the office, they will find a way not to work hard!
In such cases, the manager would be better advised focusing on how they build trust with such an individual and how to professionally challenge and correct a poor attitude.
Hybrid WFH offers so many benefits:
- Time saved travelling
- Costs of travelling
- Setting yourself up how you want
- No ‘walk past’ distractions!
- The opportunity to focus on specific things
- To start and finish work when you want
- The environmental aspect from not travelling
This is too good an opportunity to let go. We need to make sure we don’t ‘slip back into old habits’ with WFH being confined to pandemic times only. Managing staff working from home is an opportunity not to be missed. Arrange training for your managers to deal with this opportunity and watch your business flourish.