Things are challenging now and that is true across the board, both personally and professionally. When it comes to working remotely, which is how a vast majority of us are working now, there are some guidelines we can follow in order to achieve productivity on the one hand, while giving your team members the personal time and space that they need, on the other.
Define working hours and stick to them.
When you are all in an office, it is quite obvious when everyone is working because you see them there. When you are working remotely, the norms are blurred, the rules are unclear, and expectations are ambiguous.
As a manager, it is your job to remove that lack of clarity. Communicate clearly with your team what working hours are and stick to them no matter what.
I understand that you had something that popped into your head at seven o'clock at night in the shower but that doesn't mean you need to call your marketing person and ask them to write the copy for it right then.
Wait until the morning and then communicate your idea. It might sound trivial to stick to defined working hours but it affects the future of the team and their work and trickles down to all aspects of the company when rules aren't defined and time isn't respected.
Be as responsive as possible on your team communication platform.
This point is crucial. When you're working in an office, you can always get up and walk over to a person to ask a question. When you're working remotely and your teammate needs your response in order to proceed with their work, give them the courtesy of a timely response.
I'm not saying everything needs an immediate response on Slack, but getting a message at 8 a.m and responding at 6 p.m is unacceptable if the message is an important one that requires a timely response. Be considerate of other people's workflow too.
Offer very clear tasks, metrics, and processes.
If you have expectations from your team, don't leave them in your head. Communicate and over communicate how you see things going and what you expect. No one can read your mind and working remotely makes it very challenging to know what you expect if you don't explain it explicitly.
Be as clear and concise as you can even if to you, it's obvious that that task needs to be completed today.
When you're working remotely, all you really have to depend on is clear communicating. Don't make any assumptions.
Don't have team calls for the sake of having team calls.
I've written about calls before and there is no question that they are sometimes necessary. In fact, in times of remote work, calls might even be more necessary and a daily 10 minute team call might prove to be very beneficial. However, calls also require people to stop what they are doing and focus completely on the call.
Don't have calls for the sake of saying you had a call. Have calls when necessary and let the team focus on their tasks when possible.
Be honest with your criticism and positive reinforcement.
When you're sitting in an office with your team, your satisfaction or disappointment with their work can often be seen on your face. Even then, being open and honest with feedback is crucial but when working from home, it is literally impossible for the team to know how it is performing without your open feedback.
If a team member delivers a task and does it well, tell them you are happy with the results. Such positive reinforcement is all that person has to work with now and it will surely encourage them to get moving on the next task.
On the other hand, if you are dissatisfied with a team member's performance, tell them that with specific details of what they can do better next time.
The underlying principle here is that when working remotely, sensitivity of other people's time and work flow needs to be amplified and magnified so the team achieves maximum success, which is what everyone wants at the end of the day. However communicative you are under normal working circumstances, multiply that a few times when the team is working remotely.