Remote work is on the rise, with many companies adopting it for the first time. This can present some difficulties for staff and leadership alike in navigating it effectively. You naturally want your business to experience the full range of potential benefits from this approach. Therefore, it’s important to establish protocols to effectively address the core issues.
One of the most common challenges for newly remote workforces is the sense of disconnection employees have from the rest of the workforce. This can be especially problematic when remote employees face moments of uncertainty in their tasks, as they won’t have the immediate access to peers and managers that they’re used to.
The result can be a drop in productivity and more inefficient activities. It is, therefore, vital for remote employees to gain the skills they need to independently overcome the hurdles they face. Luckily, there are ways that you can gently push them in the right direction toward remote self-sufficiency.
Give Them Leadership Skills
Skills development is one of the most important investments you can make when it comes to employees. For remote employees, your best focus for self-sufficiency is offering strong leadership skills. After all, you are essentially asking them to be an independent leader in the organization and make effective autonomous decisions every day.
Providing your remote employees with the soft and technical abilities they need to be leaders isn’t just a method to make sure they can operate in a responsible and flexible way. It also boosts their professional development which can be a vital way of keeping remote employees engaged.
Some of the most important leadership skills to train on for remote self-sufficiency include:
Problem-solving is among the most important leadership abilities and is essential for remote worker self-sufficiency. This is about understanding what an issue is, why it is happening, and how to overcome it. Your training should include assessment and ideation techniques along with building the confidence to test out solutions independently.
Basic communication skills are a standard requirement for all remote employees. However, leveling up their communication toward a more efficient and leadership-focused approach is a tool for self-sufficiency. This helps employees to assess the circumstances in which communication is essential to momentum, establish the most appropriate communication tools, and utilize them effectively.
While your remote employees won’t always be managing entire company projects on their own, they will certainly be managing their everyday tasks and working environment. Providing project management skills empowers them to plan efficiently, identify and allocate the appropriate resources, and utilize their time well. It also helps employees to collaborate with their remote colleagues with a greater understanding of each other’s value to operations.
Provide Solid Resources
Making your employees self-sufficient isn’t about cutting your employees loose to fend for themselves. This is a quick way to cause disengagement and for operations to devolve into chaos. Rather, you should ensure you empower your employees with the resources they need to work independently in a way that doesn’t result in inefficiencies or disrupted productivity.
This can include offering tools to set up a home office designed for self-sufficient remote operations. At the most basic, this involves providing company-owned laptops, smartphones, scanners, and printers. It can also be worth extending this to include a subsidized secure internet connection, access to virus protection software, and virtual private networks (VPNs) if they’re handling sensitive data.
These types of resources ensure employees can operate in an agile way with the right tools for their tasks. It’s also a good idea to provide helpful digital resources as well. Have an easy to use website with an FAQ section, process documents, and video tutorials for employees to access as well.
There will also be times your remote employees need to seek advice from another member of the organization. The last thing you want is for them to ask their supervisor and get passed around to various other staff before locating the employee with the right expertise. As such, a good tool for self-sufficiency is an understanding of the company hierarchy.
A useful organizational chart provides clarity on the personnel structure of the business and how each employee contributes to operations. It sets out every staff member’s role alongside key elements of expertise. Your org chart should also include the best contact information for all company personnel. This means remote employees can independently make decisions about who is best to contact in a given situation and take the most efficient route to answers.
Be Supportive and Encouraging
One of the most important things you can do to empower your remote employees’ self-sufficiency is to be supportive and encouraging. This is where building a culture of support can be a powerful tool for your organization.
By showing your employees you care about them and empathize with their difficulties, you can boost their engagement and their willingness to operate independently. It also tends to reduce turnover, which is invaluable during this period of the Great Resignation.
A key part of your support here is to regularly reaffirm your trust in your employees. Talk about the personal and professional qualities employees have that give you confidence in them. Encourage them to use their insights and skills to guide their intuition on what to do. But you must also assure them that if they ever feel too far out of their depth, you’re there to help them.
Your support should continue on the occasions they feel they’ve failed in their tasks. Don’t berate them for not living up to expectations. Rather, reassure them that these challenges are a natural part of the development process. Importantly, use these failures as teachable moments. Help them to assess and understand what happened and how to be more effective in the future. This, above all else, empowers them with the knowledge and confidence to be self-sufficient.
By empowering your remote employees to be self-sufficient, you can benefit from a more efficient and engaged team. This should involve providing employees with leadership skills and solid resources that can make them more effective self-managers.
Importantly, developing a culture of support and encouragement can help employees be more confident in their independent activities. There are huge advantages to a remote team, but it’s vital you take steps to ensure each member can thrive.