Santa Cruz Tech Beat


Poly: How to manage employees that are new to working from home

Dog sitting under table while person works above

By Amy Barzdukas
Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at Poly
Poly Blog

March 24, 2020 — Santa Cruz, CA

(Photo source: Poly Blog)

Six practices to keep your team engaged

Yesterday, you were managing your team by swiveling around in your chair, stopping by their desk, and getting down to business in your weekly face-to-face meeting.  Today?  Not the case.  You don’t see them because you’re all scattered about working from home in your respective kitchens, dens, bedrooms, and (if you’re lucky) home offices.  So, how do you effectively manage a team in this new and unfamiliar landscape?

At Poly, we’ve been living the remote worker scenario for decades, so we asked our managers what they’ve learned over the years and they broke it down into six practices that will keep your team engaged.

#1 First and foremost over-communicate

We use videoconferencing for nearly every meeting, and there’s a reason why:  humans are generally visual creatures.  We take in cues from expressions and body language that help us better relate to others.  In fact, neuroscience shows that good visual interaction makes for more productive discussions.

But video isn’t the only thing.  We also use instant messaging, texts, and email to be on top of things.  You can’t always have synchronous conversations so use all the tools at your disposal.

Think about the communications in the office: you might say hello to someone as you walk by, or in line at the coffee counter, or heading to the restroom.  People like to know that the boss knows their name!  Try to find ways to acknowledge people digitally in similar ways so they know you know they exist.  You can do things like set a timer to give a few casual hellos each morning. Or, you can schedule a regular ‘water cooler video chat for anyone who wants to join.  Go out of your way to highlight good results and thank team members for their contributions.

My staff and I are almost always on a message thread – we use Microsoft Teams for this – where we make comments and share bits of news.  It’s a little bit wiki, a little bit coffee klatch, and a little bit “we’re all in this together.”

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