How to get the best from your remote team
As an MD of a long-established commercial cleaning company offering a bespoke cleaning service across 35 miles and 4 counties, I have been managing a 70 strong remote workforce for 25 years.
A quarter of employees questioned in a recent poll suggest their relationship with their employer has suffered during their remote working during the Covid pandemic. I believe there are some vital, but simple measures to ensuring the safety and well-being of your remote team, whilst nurturing relationships and a good work ethic.
There are three things that really help build and motivate a remote team: communication, company culture and care of your staff.
1. Communicating facts is easier than ever
Technology has really helped us manage our team. Mobile phones are commonplace, even amongst those who belong to earlier generations, so communication has never been easier. We regularly communicate in remote ways: by post, by email, or over the phone with our ever present Office Manager, Jon.
2. Communicating relationally is just as difficult
There are drawbacks to remote communication; your tone and body language are not readable, and misunderstandings can cause additional friction. So, I have taught myself to always think how the employee would like to be spoken as if it were a face to face conversation and aim to weave this into any digital communique.
We really see a huge value in face-to-face conversation with our team when possible. At the start of their employment, I meet face-to-face and clearly set out the expectation I have of each team member in their role as a cleaning operative. Then, knowing it is important to have face to face interactions, especially with those that work on their own at our client’s premises, we meet our team as much as schedules allow. It’s really important to build a relationship with the remote worker.
Clear communication feeds directly into developing a positive company culture.
1. Explain your ethos
We are foremost a family business and we encourage each employee to invest in our company’s core values of providing a quality cleaning service with reliability and honesty. When managing a remote team there must be trust between management and the team, if the above communication is clear then the expectations of your company culture are known. If you trust your team to fulfil their role to your expectations, I firmly believe you get a work force full of productivity with job satisfaction and who take pride in their work.
If issues arise these need to be dealt with at the earliest opportunity, face-to-face if possible. We deal with these issues very sensitively, but clearly communicate any adjustments needed in our team’s work if required.
2. Practise your ethos
When we get positive feedback from a client, we always let the cleaner know that their work has been noticed. We always give credit where credit is due. Each quarter we recognise members of our team with a certificate and a retail or restaurant voucher. We want to change the established unconscious norm that the work of cleaners goes unnoticed. Cleaners often work after hours and are an unseen workforce, but without them, businesses just couldn’t operate. We want to let them know they are seen by us and their good work ethic is valued and appreciated by our clients. It boosts team morale to be publicly thanked and see their photograph shared on our social media channels.
Care of your staff
As a boss, I want my staff to know I care about them, their work life and their situations. Often our team are working multiple jobs to provide for their families. We appreciate the antisocial hours they work and the time they give to our clients. Incorporating a degree of flexibility into their working hours and patterns helps them to work around their differing circumstances.
1. Care for them emotionally
A remote team’s safety and wellbeing is paramount. We are concerned about their emotional wellbeing as well as their physical wellbeing. So, we not only ensure they have the necessary equipment, workwear and PPE, but actively enquire into how they are feeling. During this Covid-19 season, we are all facing unnatural restrictions, feelings of loneliness and additional stresses on our family and finances.
2. Care for them physically
Our team have phone numbers that are contactable both within and out of office hours. Certain lone working staff have additional safety devices that allow them to receive help if they need it.
3. Care for them as you work alongside them
We are proactive in encouraging our staff to feedback any concerns. When we can be onsite, we work alongside them, taking time to listen to them and facilitating a culture of openness without shame or guilt if they’re struggling. Showing kindness in our interaction is something we feel is central to our care for our staff.
Remote working is here to stay
I believe the future will see remote and flexible working patterns become more common place. Managers and business owners need to be proactively engaging with their staff in different but dynamic ways, utilising technology, but recognising it’s limitations, to ensure their staff and business continues to thrive.
For many, remote working has been a new experience this year during the pandemic. As your remote office workers come back to the office over the next few months, we can help keep them safe with our office cleaning service. Contact us for more information.