Remote working was already on the rise before the pandemic, but since COVID-19, more people than ever are working from home. Adapting to full-time remote working has been challenging for employers and employees in different ways, but companies in Canada and worldwide have risen to the task admirably.
For small business owners, the shift to a remote workforce may have been particularly challenging. Without the infrastructure or overheads that larger companies have been able to lean on, small business owners might find things like keeping remote employees connected a struggle.
Find out how to maintain employee relations with remote workers in Canadian businesses below.
Remote Work and Employee Relations
A vital part of any positive work environment is a strong business relationship with your staff. Without the office environment, remote teams may find it hard to maintain (or, for new hires, build) employee relations with other teammates. Therefore, creating a company culture and creating open communication requires added thought and effort.
Where in the past working relationships could be maintained with casual chatter over the desks, team meetings, and one-to-ones, remote working has removed these interactions. It’s your responsibility as the company owner or manager to nurture employee relations and set clear goals – even when you can’t meet face to face.
Be Transparent and Communicate
Communication is key to any working relationship, but especially with remote workers. Always inform them of the tools you are using and the processes in place to keep everyone accountable on both sides.
From time tracking software to saving and submitting work in the correct format and location, processes like these are crucial to working efficiently and effectively as a team. Remote employees need to know what is expected of them from the outset.
Every team leader will approach remote working differently – some may want to check in with employees daily or weekly, while others will expect to see progress in the form of timesheets. Set clear expectations and communicate the standards you expect your staff, and yourself, to keep – and stick to them.
Did you know that there are five different types of communication? They’re all just as important in building trust with remote workers as they are face to face.
- Verbal: Speaking both via video conferencing and telephone.
- Non-verbal: Body language – things like eye contact and smiling may be less evident on video calls than in person, but they’re still vital.
- Written: Emails and instant messenger are especially important for communicating when working remotely.
- Listening: Being a good listener is just as important as speaking.
- Visual: Engaging presentations are more important than ever to hold the attention of employees and clients.
Video conferencing allows you to share your desktop screen with others to make presentations more accessible.
During these uncertain times, it is vital to stay connected with your team. It can be all too easy to get wrapped up in projects and forget to check in with your remote working employees. However, making time to check in with them is a must.
There are plenty of great web tools you can use to stay connected with your team day-to-day, from instant messaging apps to project management software. One-to-one meetings help to maintain a positive business relationship and give your staff the opportunity to discuss any issues they might be having with you.
Block out time in both your calendars for weekly or fortnightly catch-up meetings via video call. Use this allocated time to discuss ongoing work and upcoming projects. If you can, spare some time for an informal chat with your employees to discuss non-work-related topics to get to know them. An open line of communication creates a culture of trust and ensures they feel they can come to you with any worries they might be having.
Give Your Remote Employees the Tools to Succeed
Without the right tools for the job, your remote team members can only achieve so much. For example, mobile workers need tools to help them work efficiently on the move. GPS tracking tools help mobile workers to keep track of their progress, and allow managers to schedule new jobs, manage employees at multiple locations and builds accountability and reliability within their team.
A fast laptop or PC is a necessity for office-based roles, as well as the right software installed for them to be able to work effectively remotely. If you’re hiring any new starters to work remotely, their computer will need to have an email account set up and any instant messaging or scheduling software you use as a company to enable them to communicate with you and the wider team.
Let Your Employees Fill Out Their Timesheets
Handing over responsibility to your employees shows that you trust them. Let them fill out their own timesheets while benefiting from the functionality of double-checking from your end. This might only seem like a small responsibility. Still, it demonstrates that you trust them to work independently without micromanaging them or questioning how long it takes them to complete tasks. Your employees will feel valued and trusted as a result – plus, it saves you time and effort too!
Learn more about tracking time for your remote workforce.
Be Responsive and Reliable
Working remotely means employees can no longer simply ask a quick question across the office, meaning it’s more vital than ever that managers keep on top of emails and instant messages. If your employees are struggling, you need to be ready to offer guidance and assistance; otherwise, they might feel frustrated or fall behind on projects.
Of course, there is a risk that your day disappears in responding to messages, so if you’re busy with other things, set aside 5 minutes each hour to check emails and instant messages.
With QuickBooks Time, you can easily stay abreast of your team’s projects, with real-time alerts for job scheduling and project tracking – so you know the difference between an urgent request or a minor query and can respond accordingly.
Stay connected and keep your remote employees accountable by using employee and time tracking software. Join the thousands of other businesses that have improved their working relationships with QuickBooks Time- try it free today.