Depending on the geographic location, we are seeing more and more companies are activating plans to open workplaces. This presents the notion of split teams with some employees back in the office and others with employees continuing to work remotely. Employers must establish new policies that leave many employees and their managers, working out of the office and separated from each other. Here are some simple tips firms can utilize as they face the prospect of leading mixed location teams, between both employees working remotely and in-office:
- Think Remote First: Policies, procedures, and management choices trickle down to a firm’s employees, having a significant impact on not only how a company works, but the success of the firm. Especially as firms are faced with navigating the sudden work-from-home reality, CRE managers now have to think remote-first when making workplace decisions. Maintaining sensitivity to the impact of employment decisions on those working away from the office will be critical to engagement and productivity going forward.
- Keep Communication & Collaboration Going: Many successful remote managers establish daily or weekly calls with their remote employees. The important feature is that they are a forum in which employees know that they can consult and that their questions are heard. These telephone and video call meet-ups during the crisis and better-utilized project management tools facilitate frequent updates and collaboration. Habits such as these must continue as employees migrate to a combination of in-office work and at-home work.
- Welcome Technology to Help Keep Teams Connected: The purpose and value of project management tools have become dramatically apparent during the crisis. Managers who had habitually relied on in-office face-to-face interaction quickly found themselves disadvantaged by a lack of understanding of how to communicate and manage remotely. This has been a growth opportunity for both managers and employees alike since it forces many to use technology and tools to be more productive than ever.
- Maintaining a Culture of Trust: Ready or not, managers needed to trust that team members would complete their jobs on time without the in-house supervision and check-ins that came with working in an office environment. In the best scenarios, this fostered another level of trust that should be carried over and encouraged in the new normal. Whether a team member is located on-site or at-home, managers should aim to crystallize expectations, keep communication open, and provide frequent feedback.
- Embrace the New Trends Emerging: During the pandemic, managers have been sensitive to the pressures of multiple family members, children, and pets sharing space with team members working remotely. These circumstances may not change when some teammates return to the office, and others continue working remotely. If productivity and engagement remain high once re-opening plans are activated, managers should continue to accommodate employees’ schedules and circumstances whenever possible, to inspire positive morale.
The key to managing teams in the re-opening phase of the pandemic is to carry over the processes, tools, and mindsets that were effective for everyone working from home. We are all grappling with the idea that there’s probably no going back to how things were. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative thing.
Louis Dodaro, Managing Director, About Louis