23 March, 2020 | Rebecca East

Long distance relationships: how remote working impacts manager/employee relationships.

Did you have viral pandemic in your 5-year business growth forecasts? No, neither did we.

It is frightening to feel out of control, but while there are things we can’t plan for or change, there are others that we can get a grip on and do something about. One of those is how you manage your workforce through a challenging time, to make sure your business and teams stay intact, happy and engaged.

That, we can help with.

Long distance relationships can either be a great success or a disaster waiting to happen. The same is true of remote managing relationships – but in this case, it’s not about chemistry. It’s about setting down a structure that works for both parties, and tackling the challenges you encounter along the way.

There were already 2.66 million regular remote workers in the UK in 2019, so we know that remote management can and does work. The difference now is that managers are facing a very sudden, extreme shift towards entire teams (including themselves and more senior personnel) working from home.

To help you adjust, here are our tips to lessening the impact on the management relationship, and helping managers and employees alike thrive from home.

  1. Communicate: If this your first time managing remotely, or your first time working remotely, it’s better to overcommunicate to start with rather than leave each other in the dark. Don’t be afraid to try different tools until you find a combination that works for you. We’d advise a mix of day-to-day digital comms (Slack, Trello, etc) and regular video calls.

  2. Create a structure: Decide when to hold regular calls, when and how updates should be sent, and what communication you both expect. Make expectations clear from the start – and agree what is reasonable to both parties.

  3. Empathise: This could be a first for the manager and the employee, so think about how it is affecting both of you and how you can work together to overcome frustrations.

  4. Trust each other: Any relationship is based on trust. If you can’t trust an employee to work because they’re not in the same room as you, then there is a bigger problem. You either have trust issues, or a reason to mistrust. Talk about this and tackle the issue head on.

  5. Keep one-to-ones regular: You might even want to up the frequency until you’ve both adjusted to the situation. The important thing is to keep that open dialogue going, ask the right questions and give honest responses.

A performance management platform can bring structure, trust and accountability to any remote management relationship. If you’d like to talk through how your OpenBlend tool can help during this time, or would like information on setting up a new OpenBlend platform remotely, call us on 01628 613 040 or email hello@openblend.com.

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