Managing Staff Remotely

ArLyne Diamond's Profile

Does it feel like a loss of control?   A loss of knowing whether your staff is working or goofing off? 

Ask yourself:  Does it matter what time the work gets done, or that it gets done well?

Ask yourself:  How can I assign work that makes both me – and my staff comfortable that we both know what is expected and when?

Ask yourself:  Which team meetings really need to occur in real-time and which can be handled by e-mail?  If in real-time, what technology works best for our teams?

I know its different – and therefore somewhat difficult because all the things you learned about managing by walking around – by seeing and touching and talking with your staff is now almost impossible – BUT and that’s a big but – there are ways to assign tasks, hold people accountable and reward and reinforce them – all remotely.

So – take a deep breath – remember that change (and this is certainly a big change for many) causes stress – but once it is solidified it becomes a new habit.

Some things to remember:

  • Your staff might very well have their kids home from school – and they need to amuse them, teach them, be kind to them – and have them interrupt their work frequently.
  • They too are under stress – this is for many a new way to work
  • Some people love working from home – others are quite anxious and possibly even suffering from feeling locked up and deprived
  • Being on time doesn’t really matter – does it?
  • Well maybe it matters for on-line team meetings – but does it really matter if the work week changes from 8:00 AM to when the kids are down for a nap?

Change has stages – and you might be in the beginning or middle stages – and your staff members will vary as tow here they are…but remember the first stages are denial and anger – after a while, people adjust – and adjust especially well if they can figure out how this change actually benefits them.  Finally, the new behaviors become the new normal.

So – your job as manager is to find ways to enable them (and yourself of course) to see the positive benefits in working remotely.  There are many.  For example:

  • You can avoid rush hour traffic – just walk into your second bedroom
  • You don’t have to listen to people on the other side of the cubicle complain
  • You don’t have to wear makeup or dress professionally
  • You can pick your hours
  • You can make your own breakfast and lunch in your own well-stocked kitchen
  • You can get up and stretch whenever you want or need to
  • You can even find time to exercise when your circadian rhythms say it is the right time for you

Just to remind you:  Many years ago I attended a conference of educators being asked to consider teaching on-line.  They were all so fearful of loss of control and many – a great many – resisted the new way that was being proposed.  Yet, over the years (long before Corona Virus) on-line courses have been created and measured.  There are on-line colleges and universities that are quite successful.   This model has been replicated at the primary – elementary school levels today and although a little bit awkward for some – the model is working.

If it can work in the field of education.  It can work for you.

Just think about giving up some measure of control – but know you always do control the quality of the end product or service your staff provides.