Authors: Weronika Waniek, HR Manager
3 min read
Authors: Weronika Waniek, HR Manager
3 min read
The SARS-CoV2 pandemic has led to a number of changes in the labour market. One of the most important for many companies, including those from the IT industry, was the implementation of the fully-remote work. Although many IT companies had already tried this solution on an ad hoc basis, the complete shift from office to at-home work turned out to be a big challenge, especially for team managers. Was the new style of work advantageous for IT professionals? What can be done to ensure that remote workers perform their duties as effectively as they used to do in the office under direct supervision of a manager?
For the majority of the IT companies, remote work is nothing new. Many businesses have offered their employees the possibility to work on a mixed basis (partly at home and partly in the office) for a long time. Occasional remote work is especially useful in case of employees who need to focus in silence. The Gallup Institute states that at the beginning of 2020, 31 percent of U.S. employees were able, at least to some extent, to work from home. How have these statistics changed as a result of the pandemic? At the turn of April and May 2020, the remote work was already performed by exactly twice as many people, that is by 62% of all workers.
For many of them, it was a completely new experience, which they would probably have never tried under normal conditions. It quickly turned out that the employees enjoyed the new style of work and many of them would like to be able to continue performing duties remotely even after the pandemic is over and there are no more restrictions.
It may be said that the IT industry is privileged in terms of remote work. To perform tasks effectively, IT employees need only a proper device, software, and access to databases and tasks. Such type of work does not require physical presence in the office and can be done remotely from anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is not that simple. This is mainly due to inadequate work management and lack of motivation among employees. To achieve high efficiency, a good manager, whose role is to distribute tasks and encourage team members to participate actively in projects, is a must.
One of the most important challenges that managers need to face is the ability to motivate both individual employees and the entire teams. If the manager does not set clear goals and priorities, employees may feel lost and thus their performance will be poor.
A manager should therefore ensure that every employee knows exactly what their job is. Frequent feedback and conversation are also important. If an employee encounters problems or questions, a manager should always provide advice and do everything to avoid the situation when concerns of one team member affect the performance of the group.
If you are an IT manager, you need to realize that remote work can have a positive impact on employees’ engagement. If you set goals clearly and provide your team with tools to communicate quickly, working from home can proceed in almost the same way as working in the office. We’ve prepared a few tips to help you motivate and engage your team.
Motivation is much higher if your subordinates know what they are expected to do. Make sure your team has clearly defined goals that can be met. Too high expectations may discourage employees and, as a result, team’s productivity can be reduced. If teamwork is required to perform some specific tasks, divide responsibilities fairly among team members.
For an employee who previously worked exclusively from the office, working from home may be problematic, at least at the beginning. One of the most difficult things in remote work for such workers is usually the lack of direct contact with the supervisor and colleagues. That is why a good project manager should get in touch with employees much more often than in the case of regular office work. Apart from business-related topics, ask them about their free time – plans for holiday, hobby or a recently watched movie. Not every employee likes to initiate conversation, so it is the manager’s duty to anticipate their expectations.
Apart from discussing current issues, continuous feedback is also very important. Providing information related to work done by employees is crucial and has two main functions:
Feedback is important for both individuals and teams.
Provide valuable support and means for communication
Working from home can be difficult, particularly for lower level employees who use the advices of more experienced colleagues on a daily basis. Pay particular attention to them and provide them with access to the knowledge they need. If necessary, appoint employees who will be responsible for valuable support and will never refuse help to less experienced colleagues.
Although working from home is a very convenient solution for many employees, for some others it may also be challenging. Employees who have small children or who do not have proper work conditions (e.g. their apartment is under renovation works) may feel discouraged. Ask your employees whether working from home is comfortable for them. If not, try to provide them with a place where they can work without worries, for example, you can separate some office space for them.
Under normal circumstances, IT workers can benefit from numerous incentives, such as private health care, sports club memberships and free language courses. Such benefits are also important in remote work. Maintain incentive schemes that do not require employees’ presence in the office and try to modify those which are intrinsically linked to the office-based work. Think about replacing language courses with online classes and so on.
Although remote work can be a big challenge for IT managers, this model of work organization can be beneficial for both sides. If the supervisor is able to manage their team properly, the quality of the work can be maintained at a very high level. Additionally, employees don’t have to spend time and money on commuting.
The additional benefit for employees is the change in approach of employers to office-based work. More and more companies are opting for innovative solutions in this area, such as the introduction of mixed working models, smart offices or the creation of co-working spaces. Many of them also decide to close their offices and switch to fully remote work, using tools made to ease this type of work.
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