Dear Manager…

(An open letter from your remote workforce)

Dear Manager… (An open letter from your remote workforce)

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For employers

We get there’s a lot of content out there on how to engage your remote workforce. We don’t want to jump on the bandwagon by sharing yet another work from home article, we want to share something that’s of value and straight from individuals themselves.

So, here goes.

It’s clear from talking to our community that some are struggling.

They’re struggling to balance the ‘newness’ of working from home with the very real mental health effects of what’s going on outside. But they still need to carry on as best as they can – they still need to hit the client’s deadline, they need to ‘show up’ in meetings, they need to put that fake smile on their face.

The thing is, people’s emotions aren’t set in a vacuum, they don’t all hit at the same time. Your entire team isn’t going to feel out of place in week one and suddenly bounce back by week four.

It’s new for us all.

It’s new for the People functions who were already concerned about whether that line manager is noticing that Simon – who struggled before – has gone even more quiet.

It’s new for the IT departments who are having to test whether the server can handle over 800 people logging on at 9am.

It’s new for, and will put pressure on those relationships with housemates, new girlfriends/boyfriends, and those who have moved back home with Mum.

It’s new for the CEO who knows her every move is being watched; put one foot out of place and think about what it could do to the brand.

So, we thought, what information could we share with you to help you to engage your remote workforce and anticipate potential challenges?

We asked our community: ‘what is the one thing you want your manager to know when it comes to managing you during a significant change to your everyday working?’  For all those line managers out there, here are some of the ways to talk with your people and pull together like a team.

Ways to engage your remote workforce (in employees’ words). 


 

Dear Line Manager, 

We get that you’re facing a situation you’ve never faced before. Previously,  you may have struggled with managing us, and we get that this distance may have only exacerbated the challenges you faced.  Here are a few things we want you to know, some which may help you to help us:

> Don’t keep the bad news to yourself

We get that it’s really stressful at the moment, but you don’t need to hide all the bad stuff. If you can, share with us what you’re going through, we work really well as a team in the physical office, why should this be any different?  In times when it’s tough, people can surprise you.

> Check-in, but don’t micromanage me

We love that you ask us how we are every morning. Yes, sometimes it can be a bit repetitive because there’s literally no update, but we do get that you’re asking to help us on many levels.

When you do ask me how I am doing, please listen to the answer; please look at the subtlety of my facial expressions or body language. Maybe I’m trying to communicate something I don’t feel 100% comfortable sharing with the rest of the team on Zoom.

Please don’t get me to check in with you every hour to update you on every… little… detail. Trust me to do the work to the quality you need.

I sometimes may need to switch off my Slack notifications. These are just one set of notifications competing for my attention, it’s overwhelming. If I do, however, I’ll make sure I tell you and let you know what I’m doing.

Want to really help me? Guide me towards what success looks like when working remotely – that way I’ll have a clear path to follow.

> I’m not being 100% productive (and I feel guilty about it).

I’m getting used to working from home. The novelty of working in my pyjamas has worn off; I’ve rearranged my bedroom workspace (twice), come to the conclusion that Zoom is ‘so yesterday’, and argued with my flatmate who keeps using TikTok as they’ve been furloughed… when I’m about to jump on a call.

I don’t realise it yet, but my stress levels are up; I am finding it difficult to sleep at the moment.

My dreams are weird (like, really weird).  I’m fast losing interest in checking Twitter. I’m also really worried about losing my job. I hadn’t developed the resilience needed to get over this set of challenges. I’ll get there but give me the psychological space to make mistakes. I will bounce back.

 

Thanks,

 


 

Helpful resources on how to engage your remote workforce: 

Kim Scott, talks about Radical Candor, something that happens when you care personally and challenge directly at the same time.

What employees need from leaders right now, Gallup.

Create anonymous surveys with employee feedback with doopoll.

Learn about millennials in the workplace and their challenges with Careercake (download the report).

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