Remote work has been largely hailed as a breakthrough success of the pandemic, offering concrete proof that people don’t have to suffer through protracted commutes or rigid hours to be effective in their jobs. Yet managing the hiccups during a global crisis as a CIO is ultimately very different than doing it day in and day out. Here’s our take on how CIOs can effectively manage remote employees.
- Consider Your Communication Style
- Set an Example
- Be Aware of Technical Aspects
- Stay on Top of Legal and Compliance Measures
Consider Your Communication Style
No matter what your company is trying to accomplish, communication can be a minefield. Erring on the side of ‘too much’ may seem smart, until you realize that all of it is falling on deaf ears. Then again, too little, and you’ll end up ruffling feathers on both sides of the aisle.
When it comes to how to manage remote employees, set expectations early and often — and then do what you can not to shift them unless absolutely necessary. When people should start their jobs, who they should be talking with, and where they should go for real-time updates about their projects; these standards are non-negotiable for all employees, but especially for those who don’t have the benefit of leaning over to the person in the next cubicle.
Set an Example
You’re the one that people are looking to, whether they realize it or not. Think about how you want your employees to behave while they’re working remotely. For instance, do you expect them to take regular lunch breaks at the same time, or would you rather give people the flexibility they need should inspiration strike? Do you want your employees to act more like friends or more like formal colleagues?
Your employees are going to interpret remote work in their own way and listening to their critiques and suggestions is important. However, what you do cues them into what you value, which they no doubt will consider on the job.
Your VPN, cybersecurity, and communication platforms are all directly tied to how well your employees engage with each other during the day. For as much as technology has improved over the past few years, the truth is that there are plenty of technical difficulties still left to be found in the world especially when you have to manage remote employees.
Whether you’re working with people who have poor wi-fi connections, or you haven’t been as proactive about all those software updates you should be making, managing employees means finding creative solutions to any technical gaps you may have noticed.
Ask these questions to ensure best practices in a remote work strategy:
- How scalable is the network? Can it support new usage patterns and applications?
- How secure are mobile connections? How protected is sensitive info outside of the office?
- Is network performance being consistently monitored to ensure control and usability?
- Are end-users being supported, particularly if there’s a huge spike in demand?
Legal and Compliance Measures
Do you know if you’re liable for an employee injuring themselves while working remotely? Working from home is not necessarily that different from working in an office when it comes to legality. Consider that if an employee hears the phone ring while they’re upstairs and then trips on the way downstairs to answer it, this may very well be deemed a workplace accident. To manage remote employees means taking an active interest in how they're reacting to the daily demands they're facing.
A successful remote strategy is about a leader’s ability to think differently about long-standing workplace traditions. Implementing hard-and-fast solutions is certainly a start, but the larger goal is to challenge existing norms about what workdays should look like. It starts with baseline technology that won’t fail you when the tough get going.
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