Thanks to the pandemic, there have been real shifts in how and where we work. For many, the time has come to work remotely full-time. While there are lots of people who have been very happy with the shift to remote working, there are others who find it more challenging.
It’s a big shift in the way they work and as such, they’ll struggle. Here’s how you can help that team member adjust to this way of working.
Understand What’s Impacting Their Work
The first thing to do is to understand what is making work difficult for your team member. The overall reason will most likely be that they are struggling to adapt to working remotely, but you need to zero in on what’s making it hard for them.
For example, it could be that childcare has fallen through and they’re trying to take care of their kids while working. They may not have a suitable workspace in their home and so they have to work in an environment that isn’t conducive to being productive.
There could be all kinds of reasons why your team member is suddenly not performing to their best standard. If you can narrow down exactly what it is that they’re struggling with, you can then start to help them.
Don’t Feel As Though You Can’t Reach Out
Many managers hesitate to reach out and help their team members in cases like these. “They feel as though they’re overstepping, as it could be a personal issue,” says Caroline Peters, a business writer with UKWritings. “In fact, it could well be an issue that you can help with.”
Remember, at the end of the day, your team member needs to be able to do their job to the best of their ability. You’re there to help them do that, so make sure you reach out and ask if anything is impeding them from getting the job done.
Remember That Remote Work Unveils A Lot Of Issues
When people first started working remotely during the pandemic, they quickly found that a lot of their work processes were not really made for the world of remote work. The new setup showed that certain processes were slow, or didn’t really work as well as they should have.
This is important to consider when you’re working with a team member who apparently isn’t performing well. Is it that they’re finding it harder to use certain systems? After all, they can’t simply walk over to their colleague’s desk and ask for help.
If you find that it’s an issue with a process that’s occurring, then you can work with that team member to address it, and potentially make changes to make it better for remote working.
Separate Emotion From Fact
“When handling a team member who is underperforming, you may need to remove any emotion from the process,” says Andy Harrison, a tech blogger at Ox Essays. “Emotions can get heightened when working remotely, and that’s not going to help when you try to get to the root of the issue.”
For example, if another team member has come to you, asking you to help as a certain team member isn’t fulfilling their duties, they may be irritated and frustrated. You want to ensure that you hear that frustration, but then remove the emotion so you just have the facts of the case. That will help you deal with it more effectively.
Consider Your Own Role
While there can be all sorts of things affecting your team member’s performance, remember that you may also have a part to play in the issues they’re having. That’s not something that’s pleasant for you to consider, but it is important that you consider it. After all, that’s good management.
For example, think about whether you’ve been clear enough in your expectations when directing this team member. Have you given them all the tools they may need to do their job? Sometimes you may not even know what it is that’s missing from the equation. You can ask the team member if there’s something they need from you, so they can do their job effectively.
If you feel a team member is struggling when working remotely, then you’ll be tempted to lower the bar for them so they can meet expectations. However, this isn’t going to help them or your business in the long run. It’s much better to find out what they’re struggling with first and then put measures in place to help them meet the bar that was already there.
The best place to do this is through video chat, as you’ll be able to read each others’ expressions. You can check in on the team member and ask them why they feel they’re struggling. It’s important you listen carefully to their answer, as that will help you put the right measures in place. For example, quick, in-person jobs may now have become a long string of emails or messages, making it harder to keep up. Now you know what’s wrong, you can start making changes.
Get The Team Member Involved
Since your team member has told you what’s causing issues with their remote work, it only makes sense that they help you solve it. When talking with them, ask them what they would change if they could. That shows that you trust them to be able to help improve the situation and help you find ways to put things right.
This will also give them the chance to ask for that help, without worrying about doing so. Often, they will be able to find just the right solution themselves, and get the work back up and running quickly.
If a team member isn’t performing as they should under remote work, you don’t need to panic. You can work with them to find the solution, and solve the issue quickly and easily.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What is remote work?
Ans. Remote work is a working arrangement where employees need not go to the office and can work from any remote location.
Q2. What are the benefits of remote work?
Ans. Some of the benefits of remote work include:
Freedom and flexibility
Health and happiness
Q3. What are the demerits of working from a remote location?
Ans. Some of the cons of working remotely include:
Srikant Chellappa is the Co-Founder and CEO at Engagedly and is a passionate entrepreneur and people leader. He is an author, producer/director of 6 feature films, a music album with his band Manchester Underground, and is the host of The People Strategy Leaders Podcast. He is currently working on his next book, Ikigai at the Workplace, which is slated for release in the fall of 2023.