How Managers Should Communicate With Teleworkers

How Managers Should Communicate With Teleworkers

How Managers Should Communicate With Teleworkers

A teleworking manager may be trying to stay connected to a dozen or more direct employees on any given day. Many of these managers and their employees may even be new to teleworking since the pandemic has drastically increased the number of people working from home. One of the biggest challenges—if not the biggest—for a manager overseeing a teleworking or remote working team is staying connected to each and every team member.

Whether your team started teleworking five years ago or is still transitioning to remote work, here are four tips for managers who want better communication with their direct employees.

Keep Communication Frequent and Consistent

47% of HR professionals in a recent study said that effective communication was crucial when transitioning to remote work. When it comes to communication, don’t wait for your employees to get in touch with you. Take the initiative. Communicate with them frequently. Let them know you are thinking of them and interested in their work and lives. You will also need to find a way to answer quick questions. Some managers have been setting up office hours for questions that can be answered in under 10 minutes.

Consistency is another critical part of the communication equation. Your team members should feel confident they are all receiving the same information. Managers should confirm their communication is consistent with messaging from the top.

Use Rituals to Create Stability

Developing a sense of stability while your team is teleworking helps when there is a lot of unpredictability. And there is a lot of unpredictability right now. Some managers suggest regular morning check-ins to go over any new developments and chart a course for the day. Other managers have reported having fun themes for meetings. A predictable ritual builds a sense of connection and can add a little fun to a regular workday.

Set Boundaries

As you learn how to communicate with your team, you will find not everyone wants frequent communication. Others may take up more time than you are willing to give. Teleworking can leave employees and managers feeling like they need to be available 24/7. Your role is to let your team know your expectations and that it’s ok to have boundaries. Start by setting them for yourself. Tell your team you are happy to be available when they need you and that you will check-in with them regularly. Then let them know, for example, you will not be starting your day until 9 am because you want to help your family with breakfast or that you are taking half an hour at noon for your online meditation group. By taking space, you give your team permission to do the same.

Remember To Boost Morale

One of the hardest things about managing a teleworking team is maintaining morale. Employees can feel isolated and unappreciated. With other life stressors, working from home is not always easy. Taking the time to provide positive feedback and show appreciation for your team’s work at the end of each day is sure to boost morale.

Staying connected to your direct employees can seem daunting at first. With clear communication, availability, and reliable feedback, your team will feel more connected to you and each other. 

Featured photo by Amy Hirschi on Unsplash

What Good is Networking When You Work From Home?

What Good is Networking When You Work From Home?

What Good is Networking When You Work From Home?

Building informal professional networks creates immeasurable value. Not only do these informal networks help propel your career they also foster innovation at your own company. You really never know where the next big idea will come from. The spark of a concept, solution, or theory often happens during a chance encounter with a colleague from another department or even from an acquaintance at another organization.

Meeting your co-workers or growing your sphere of influence happens naturally in a traditional work setting. You may walk past someone’s desk, say hello in the break room, or get to know someone from another company in the elevator ride up to your office. The next thing you know, your network has grown through these small daily interactions. It’s tempting to say this can’t happen when you work outside the office. You may not believe it, but you can, and you must grow your network when you are teleworking, too. It may even be easier to engage with your networks when you’re not working behind a company firewall.

Influence and Informal Networks

You often start creating informal networks without even knowing it. It can happen simply by getting to know new people who do what you do or who work in a similar industry. This is an individual activity that builds personal value.

Your company most likely doesn’t sponsor informal networking, nor do you really want them to. This is about you creating a network that fits your interests and aspirations. It is about spreading your influence far and wide across your organization and industry.

Workplace Networks

There are a few helpful ways to do this while teleworking. Keeping your chat on while you are working is a great way to make sure you are available to connect with colleagues. Make sure to add employees from other departments in your organization on chat. This way, you can learn more about them and possibly connect with them for future projects. Try starting a virtual co-working group or attending an online workshop with the people in your workplace network.

External Networks

Remember that your network goes beyond the boundaries of your company. It may include former colleagues who have moved on to new organizations, friends with similar jobs, or even former classmates. At Ansera Solutions, we call these external networks personal learning networks because they encourage informal learning and growth.

When working in an office among others, it can be hard to stay in touch with these external networks, let alone grow them. On the other hand, teleworking might enable the kind of multitasking that keep such networks alive and well.

While social media can be a starting point, it is not enough to simply join a social media networking site and hope to connect with people. You have to be active on the platform by sharing engaging content, following, engaging, and messaging people you know and people you would like to get to know better. Joining online professional groups is an even more effective way to build your informal network.

Building, expanding, and maintaining your informal networks when teleworking does take time and effort. It is an effort that creates personal value and leads to serendipitous moments. We assure you that taking on this challenge is well worth it, and both you and your company will reap the rewards.

Feature photo by Hello I’m Nik 🎞  on Unsplash

Networking Suggestions

Networks exist wherever you connect with people on a regular basis. The keys are what we call residency. Residency refers to our belief that communities only provide value when people spend time within them and engage with others. Networks exist in the form of relationships between people, which can be maintained or developed through social media. Yes, people can learn by lurking on social media, but this alone is not networking. Here are some technologies and notes that might help.

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups
These can be either public or private. For professional networking, we recommend finding groups dedicated to one or more aspects of your profession. There’s no harm in joining to feel out whether it can help your work. Be sure to contribute and see how people interact. Remember, you’re not looking for agreement with you, but constructive commentary and mutual respect for differing perspectives. Be sure to check out our own Facebook group dedicated to teleworking, a virtual water cooler of sorts.

Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and other networking platforms
 Unlike existing groups, you need to build your network on these platforms through friends, connections, or whatever they’re called. Search hashtags or keywords to find and follow others who are interested in areas related to your interests. The key here is engagement. It’s about the quality of your networks, not the number of people in them.

Platforms like Slack allow people to gather and invite others to join. Like networking platforms, you build your own network of sorts. Like groups, all members see the posts of other members, who can interact with one another. Slack (and Skype and others) are great for work groups or groups of like-minded individuals who have some preexisting relationship outside the platform.


Staying Relevant While Out of Sight as a Remote Worker

Staying Relevant While Out of Sight as a Remote Worker

Staying Relevant While Out of Sight as a Remote Worker

It’s a brave new world for telework. The number of people working remotely or teleworking has skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic. In fact, a recent survey found that 71% of workers are teleworking or working from home all or most of the time. You might even be one of the many remote workers logging on every day.

While you may have welcomed the chance to skip the morning commute or work in your pajamas, remote work has its challenges. One of the biggest challenges is staying visible when you are not in the office regularly. Even though you are out of sight, you can stay top of mind.

Communication is Key

Strong communication skills transcend all workplaces. It is guaranteed that your managers expect a high level of communication from their remote or teleworkers. So first things first, turn on your video. It’s essential to be professional and prepared, just like you would if you were at the office. It can also be easy to fall into the trap of audio-only meetings. Resist the temptation to work in your pajamas. Video lets you connect face to face with your team and managers. Having your video on during a meeting will encourage you to participate more during the call.

Don’t Be Afraid To Over-Communicate

Your employer is most likely looking for more than to see you on video once a week. Look at models within your organization to see what your employer expected from past teleworkers to determine what they would like to see from you. Be transparent as possible. This might involve daily check-ins, chat availability, or even putting together a weekly email summary to keep everyone in the loop.

Stay in Touch

Nobody wants more meetings, but when you are working remotely, that is precisely what you may have to do. Schedule cross-department meetings to share what you are working on. Don’t forget about your colleagues. Make sure you stay connected with them in formal and informal ways. Plan one-on-one meetings and use chat platforms to check-in with your colleagues regularly. You don’t have to keep it business all the time either—plan for fun too, with virtual happy hours or game sessions.

Exercise Your Leadership Skills

Be proactive. Offer to sit in on meetings or take the lead. If you can present something at a virtual meeting, do that too. Doing so will let you be seen as a high-value employee and a leader within the company. More and more future managers, executives, and even CEOs will come from the ranks of teleworkers. Even if that is not your career goal, you and other remote workers are doing valuable work every day.

There is no doubt about it. Remote work is here to stay. Even if you are not worried about missing out on career opportunities, you still want to be acknowledged for your work by your managers and colleagues. All it takes is a little diligence and a lot of communication to stay visible and valued.