Over the last decade, Africa has consistently grown faster than the world as a whole, including leapfrogging old technologies and embracing the digital revolution, leading the world in innovations such as mobile payments.
A new survey by the World Economic Forum indicates that two-thirds of people around the world want to work flexibly when the COVID-19 pandemic is over and so It’s no surprise that the at-home worker is here to stay.
Since the breakout of COVID-19 in Africa, working from home has steadily increased in popularity in sectors that are technology enabled and “flexible work” policies are on the rise. Co-working technologies and video conferencing tools such as zoom, slack and WhatsApp are also a major driver behind remote working.
Managing people is hard enough on its own therefore when you consider teams being remote, it is more difficult
The four main challenges of managing people remotely include but not limited to, Minimal employee visibility that leads to mistrust and low empathy, decrease in connection within employees which diminish bonds within the team, difficult to maintain strong lines of communication, power outages and lastly connectivity in terms of WIFI and data connection challenges. The last challenge is specifically unique to remote workers in Africa due to high costs of internet, accessibility challenges and frequent power cuts that may disrupt connection.
If you are an Africa administrator trying to juggle the multiple facets of supporting a remote team on the continent, you are not alone. While managing remote workers may seem to come with challenges, it is not impossible to overcome them and before figuring out how to be a good remote manager, ensure you have the basic management skills like building the right system, supporting your team, and providing some coaching.
With some diligent daily practices and a healthy amount of transparency, the transition to working from home can be an opportunity to build new relationships and improve productivity. To stay connected with your team and help keep everyone on track, set clear commitments and expectations backed-up with carrying out performance reviews periodically either monthly or weekly. Understanding your employees and finding out the destructions they are facing and ways to overcome them can also increase productivity. Managers must also set up systems and standards i.e.,
Home office standards are required given the fact that some employees may find it hard to work from home. So be sure to provide the team with the required tools to enable them to work from home effectively. Workstations, laptops, subsidizing internet costs are all critical but go further and make sure that teams feel supported in creating a home office where they can focus uninterrupted.
Setting chat and email standards: Develop and communicate new standards to support internal and external communication tailored towards making sure remote workers stay engaged and included in the company culture. What platforms should teams use to communicate, when people should be online, how long a response is expected, and what happens when one doesn’t respond within the expected period.
Virtual meeting standards: It is important to find the right balance of virtual connection that keeps momentum growing without overwhelming the team with zoom fatigue. Some practices like using the video camera during virtual meetings help with face-to-face connection. While laying down these standards, it is better if the team is involved in the decision making.
Creating a chat room where employees can discuss anything so that they still feel attached and have deep insights with fellow colleagues.
Carry out Weekly Key performance Indicator reviews whereby employees report tasks carried out within the week and what they intend to do the following week. This helps your team transition to an output-based approach to productivity.
Deploy flexible work hours, focus on efficiency rather than how long it took to complete the task to ensure employees produce great results and set-up check-in meetings.
Lastly, set up project management tools and follow them. There are so many tools online that can support project management to ensure teams finish projects on time while preserving quality standards.
Finally, Matthew B. Perrigino & Roshni Raveendhran urge managers to incorporate supportive and constructive Work from Home (WFH) behaviors into their daily routines. Research indicates that when managers monitor themselves and assess the degree to which they engage in supportive actions each day, their subordinates experience better outcomes related to work–life balance, such as reduced work–family conflict, and more positive work attitudes.
Managers can establish WFH policies and practices that enable them to collaborate with their employees to set customized psychological and time-related boundaries, giving the employees the combination of structure and flexibility, they need to function well. With the support of their managers, employees will feel empowered to establish their own routines for work–life balance within the new WFH reality. These arrangements will also benefit organizations because remote employees will be healthier (reducing absenteeism costs), happier (reducing turnover costs), and more productive (enhancing top-line growth) as well as more likely to stay with the employer both during the COVID-19 pandemic and after it passes.
Managing remote workers during quarantine: Insights from organizational research on boundary management https://behavioralpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/BSP-Journal_Special-Online-Covid_Perrigino-Raveendhran_2p.pdf
Home or office? Survey shows opinions about work after COVID-19 Survey shows opinions about work after COVID-19 pandemic | World Economic Forum (weforum.org)
How to Manage Remote Teams - Challenges and Tips for Managing Remote Employees https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd05Tz-H3Uo
Book- 2022 Management and Leadership Guidehttps://manageminimal.com/22mlg