One of the biggest anxieties for managers suddenly forced into the role of managing remote workers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is keeping track of the day-to-day activities of staff they aren’t seeing every day in person.
Many managers pride themselves on their soft skills and the ability to gauge the state of their teams by simply being around them, picking up on cues about who is overworked or who has extra bandwidth and intra-team dynamics.
One simple method of staying in touch with staff for managers to consider is the use of regular reports. Some managers may already be using these in some fashion, but they can take on an entirely new usefulness with remote staff. In this post, we discuss some key factors to consider when using these reports.
As we mentioned, many organizations and teams may already be using some form of regular employee report. But for teams that are completely remote, those reports may need to be retooled to provide greater detail.
This could include the amount of time spent on different projects or activities, for example, which is a great way for managers to get a better idea of remote staff’s workload. It could also include space for employees to report concerns over their general mental and emotional well-being during an obviously stressful time.
Wherever possible, managers should seek to maintain consistency in the information and format of their reports. This way, they can compare apples to apples when evaluating staff, it’s easier for them to process multiple reports, and it’s easier to train new staff on how to use the reports.
Make Sure It’s Actually Used!
Managers need to make sure whatever reporting obligation they’re using is actually worthwhile. It’s surprising how much time and effort can be wasted on reporting that nobody reads. The bottom line: Make it meaningful to spur use.
Iterate and Solicit Employee Feedback
New reports, like any new process, will likely require a few iterations to get everything just right. Employee feedback should definitely be a part of that iterative process.
While certainly not a replacement for in-person interaction, employee reports can help give managers a greater sense of transparency into the day-to-day activities, and potential concerns, of their staff—whether working remotely or in the office.