Here are ten interpersonal tips for remote managers and the reasons for their application. Remote work arrangements are becoming the norm in all corners of the world. Even so, there are certain pockets of remote workers who may find the challenges of remote work greater than their colleagues. Remote work may present potential problems for rural remote workers, older remote workers, minorities who work remotely, and women and those questioning their sexual identity. This article presents ten interpersonal tips for remote managers to consider and a summary of why these suggestions may be necessary.
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Working from home can positively impact remote workers with disabilities
Rural remote workers may need additional technical resources
Pew Research conducted surveys of Americans living and working in rural areas who indicated that lack of access to high speed internet represents a major problem in their community. This lack of reliable and high speed internet service hinders their ability to find, fill and succeed in remote work jobs.
The sentiments of rural residents span the socio-economic spectrum. Twenty percent of rural residents with annual household incomes lower than $30,000 and 23% of residents with household incomes approximating $75,000 report similar problems related to poor connectivity and slow service. Further these rates experienced by rural residents are almost double the percentage of Americans in urban areas and approximately triple the percentage of Americans working and living in suburban areas.
Older remote workers may require additional engagement
An article appearing in the journal, Work, Aging, and Retirement republished by the National Institute of Health, was based upon a study of the attitudes of older workers who work from home. It was determined through self reports of the participants that while older workers may be attracted to the increase independence and autonomy that remote work promotes, not all was perceived as rosy.
Older workers, it was found, actually revel in the social engagement that an in office, traditional work environment brings. Mature workers working remotely may have few opportunities to interact informally and face-to-face with their colleagues, supervisors, and subordinates. The authors suggest that lack of interaction may lead to frustration which in turn spirals into a cycle of declining work engagement and decreasing feelings of connectedness with the work team and corporate culture. In the end, they may feel more alienated with a heightened risk of associating the perceived alienation with age discrimination.
Another key aspect to the adoption and acceptance of remote work among mature workers, mind agility and the ability to adapt to new remote work protocols, technological tools, and nomenclature were mainstays. As they were promulgated to maintain productivity, enhance communication, and promote greater work/life balance; they may may have had the opposite effect among older remote workers. As well as a cause of added stress.
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Minority remote workers may require a more nuanced approach
Harvard Business Review dedicated an article on the phenomenon of ‘code switching.’ It is purported to occur among minorities who in the presence of a majority person (most often in the workplace) subconsciously adapt their voice, speech, and behaviors deemed acceptable by the majority with the expectation of being accepted.
Due to this, it was written, Blacks in particular, may feel added pressures when working from home as the boundaries of work and home are blurred. Opening one’s home (private space) where one has felt free to remove the work mask may cause foreboding feelings. If a prolific code switcher at work, what happens during video conferencing, professional calls and emails in your safe space where code switching wasn’t a requirement? Further, negative stereotypes may be drawn from having visual access to the living spaces in full view of work colleagues.
Women and questioning gender remote workers may need increased connections
Deloitte asked women working remotely to complete a survey. According to a Deloitte survey, Women at Work: A Global Outlook, 52 percent of women divulged that they have been harassed or suffered from microaggression while working from home. Some of the common incidents reported among women remote workers were tactless comments about their appearance, preferred style of communication, race, sexual identity, and familial/kid/grandparent obligations.
10 Interpersonal Tips for Remote Managers and Reasons for their Use
But enough about the challenges. What interpersonal tips managers might use to help employees working remotely?
- Refrain from waiting for your subordinates to reach out to you. Give your remote working employees the opportunity to self-report incidents of perceived mistreatment by connecting with them at least once per day.
- Maintain a daily check in schedule with your remote workers to inquire about their needs for technical support, social interaction, brainstorming, and problem solving.
- Schedule bi-weekly or weekly virtual brunches where team members meet virtually to share ideas, present challenges and to collaboratively discuss solutions.
- Inform your remote workers of daily office hours where they can share ideas and or concerns in an uninterrupted fifteen minute time block, suggests Harvard Business Review.
- Maintain an agenda, protocol, corporate processes and procedures so that remote employees may find solace in predictable routines. According to Dr. Nicole Green, and co-leader of the MindWell, predictable routines and procedures bring about a sense of calmness in times and situations of unease, chaos, and stress.
- Refrain from invading the personal (out of office) space of your subordinates and co-workers while simultaneously serving as a role model with the insistence in maintaining your personal boundaries as well.
- Establish realistic goals and objectives.
- Track and monitor remote worker progress toward individual goals and provide prompt feedback (across multiple modalities: written, verbal, face-to-face, virtual) to guide your remote subordinate with course correction.
- Adopt a EPS NPS system to routinely collect information on your team’s attitudes and perceptions of the company as well as their propensity to refer your company to their friends and family, sense of loyalty and/or their preference for your company’s products or services over your competitors.
- Find ways in which to engage your remote workers (virtual retreats, in-person social meet-ups, virtual lunch dates, or ice breaker activities before the start of each work day).