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WFH doesn't need to be WTF



Introduction

As a manager, you should be able to provide your staff with the tools they need for success. For example, if one of your remote workers is someone who does best when given structure and clear expectations, then you should make sure that they have those things in place so that they can do their best work.

Communicate clearly, and often

Communication is vital to the success of your remote team. It's more than just talking though—it's listening and acting on what your team has said. To be clear, functional communication needs to happen in person as well as digitally through email, IMs, phone calls and video chats.

Communication can be formal or informal but all methods are important because you want a two-way street where everyone feels comfortable speaking their mind without fear of retribution for sharing their opinion or asking questions about something that isn't clear enough for them at this point in time. It's easy to think that just because we're working remotely that there aren't clear rules about how people should behave but there are many things we take for granted when we're in an office setting like eye contact with other people during meetings (for example) so it's critical that these unwritten rules get communicated clearly as soon as possible so everyone knows what they're supposed to do.

Lead by example

As a manager, you're not just responsible for the success of your team. You are also responsible for setting an example that inspires others to do their best work. Here are some ways to lead by example:

  • Show that you care about their success. Do what you can to ensure that each member of your team has the skills and resources necessary for them to succeed in their role.

  • Show that you’re approachable and supportive—and don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it too! This lets employees know they aren't alone when it comes time for learning new skills or tackling difficult projects.

  • Work hard yourself so employees understand what’s expected of them at all times (and so they know they should always strive towards excellence).

Make it easy for people to connect with each other.

  • Use video conferencing tools.

  • Provide a shared calendar.

  • Use social media to connect people.

  • Use instant messaging (Slack, etc.).

Keep in mind that others may not be as good at maintaining boundaries as you are

While you may have the best intentions, there is a very real possibility that your WFH employees are not as good at maintaining boundaries as you are. If they're not used to working from home, they may not be able to tell when they're being distracted because of their home life or other factors. They may also have a harder time saying no to requests from coworkers who want something outside their job description than someone who's in an office every day would.

If you notice issues like these cropping up with one of your WFH employees, provide feedback and let them know what is working well and what needs improvement—but don't micromanage every aspect of their work lives! You need to set expectations for how much time they spend on certain tasks, as well as when those tasks should be completed by (or if there's any flexibility).

Show them the tools

Help your employees by providing training and making sure they have access to the tools you expect them to use. This will help them understand what's possible with their current resources and make it easier for them to accomplish tasks without getting in trouble.

If an employee has never used a certain tool, try walking through some basic tasks first so they know how it works. Make sure they understand how the tool works before giving them any responsibility over its use.

Listen to their feedback and take it seriously

As you go through the process of providing WFH solutions, listen to what they have to say. When they tell you that they want a 24/7 supply chain support team, don't just nod and smile—take their feedback seriously and use it as part of your solution.

Keep in mind that when people give feedback, there are often underlying reasons for why they want something. For example, if an employee says that she wants a more efficient system for managing her expenses but doesn’t mention safety concerns about traveling at night by herself on business trips (for which there's no easy solution), then it may be worthwhile for you to look into other ways to manage expenses so that the issue can be tackled from another angle entirely—for instance by having the employee pay electronically instead of on paper receipts or checks.

When someone sends over feedback about WFH issues at work, make sure that this person knows how much effort you're putting into following through with any changes he or she suggests before asking him or her if there's anything else bothering him or her about working remotely outside of those issues being addressed yet. This way everyone involved knows exactly where they stand when making decisions related specifically toward improving working conditions while still allowing flexibility when possible within those guidelines.

Let them know what's working well

Provide feedback and let them know what is working well, but don't micromanage every aspect of their work lives. Let them do their job with autonomy, so they are more engaged in their work and can feel the sense of ownership that comes with it. If you give your remote employees the freedom to do their jobs on their own terms, they will be more motivated to succeed at them. This also applies in situations where you have an employee who isn't doing a good job and needs guidance; instead of telling them exactly how to fix all the problems themselves, try asking questions about what may be going wrong for them or why things aren’t changing at all even though there are clearly problems occurring.

Give them room to figure it out

Make sure your remote staff knows what you expect from them, but also give them room to figure out how best to do things themselves.

The best managers provide freedom to figure out how best to get the job done. They didn’t micromanage every aspect of work life—instead, they create an environment where people can thrive on their own terms.

Conclusion

People are different and will respond differently to the same situation. It's your job as a manager to figure out how each person on your team works best and allows them the freedom to do their job without micromanaging every aspect of their lives (unless they need help with something specific).

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