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Be the Best Virtual Manager

By Erika Miller
Illustration of two people chatting via video call
image with text - But there's a global pandemic, employee experience is changing

As managers, you like to see your employees. You like to fist bump them when they perform. You like to bond over TikToks at lunch. But there’s a global pandemic, and the employee experience is changing.

In many cases, virtual work is here to stay. The good news is studies show that virtual work can be even more productive than 40 hours a week at the office. But managers need to know just how to lead their teams to those victory laps, and most current managers don’t feel up to the task.

Here at Motivosity, we know that employees need three things to rock their work: recognition, a sense of belonging, and a great relationship with their boss. These things are absolutely still possible in a virtual climate, and we’ve got the low-down on how the best managers create the best employee experience.

The Problems: Micromanaged and Lonely

Covid work adjustments have actually given us a pretty solid dataset for employees’ biggest hang-ups with their virtual work set-up. Overall, the employee experience is hurting from having less support from and access to their managers and teams.

image with text - a big form of communication they are missing is a simple, thank you

Employees that used to holler down the table for information or get a fist bump from their boss in the hallway, may now have to send a series of emails or schedule a video chat just to get the data they need sans any appreciation. Employees rated communication and collaboration as the #1 struggle with remote work, and a big form of communication they are missing is a simple, “Thank you.” Unappreciated and lonely employees do not feel like they belong to their organization and may leave.

Rounding out the top three complaints is not being able to unplug. It’s tough to feel like you always have to be available to your coworkers and manager. It’s hard to know where work life ends, and home life begins if you’re expected to answer emails or chats before or after your usual hours. It gets even more complicated if your kids are doing virtual school, and normal childcare options are closed. These things are all damaging the employee experience.

The Solution: Leadership

But all is not lost! You are the manager. You set the tone, expectations, and boundaries. A few suggestions:

  1. Say Thank you: Show your employees you trust that they can and want to do their job because many are working 70% harder than before virtual work. Constantly checking up on your employees doesn’t make them feel valued. Thanking them for a job well done, the time they have put into their work, and acknowledging how helpful they are can go a long way to engender the trust your employees need.

  2. Give some Slack: Employees need to be able to depend on consistent and collaborative communication. Use platforms like Slack and Microsoft Teams to allow team members to collaborate without the pressure of having to set up a meeting to get the answers they need.

  3. Check-in frequently: Trusting your employees doesn’t mean abandoning them to figure everything out on their own. Check-in frequently to make sure they have the data, equipment, and emotional support to continue to do their job well. Consistent and collaborative one-on-ones are the perfect vehicle for making sure you and your employees are on the same page and have the right resources.

  4. Respect boundaries: Stick to the regular times you’ve set for team check-ins and meetings. Don’t make your team feel like they’re always on call, especially before or after set work hours. Finally, don’t make them feel like you need to be involved in every little dimension of their work process. Give them the freedom to do their best work.

Virtual work can still be more effective than working at the office, but your employees need to feel like they have the freedom to decide how to make magic happen along with the resources they need. Respecting their boundaries and giving them autonomy will help your employees feel recognized and trusted. Providing collaborative environments like Slack will boost their sense of belonging. Frequent supportive check-ins will strengthen their relationship with you, their manager. These three things will help keep your team motivated to offer their most stellar work product. Understanding where your employees are coming from and how you can support them doesn’t just make you a great manager — it makes you a great leader.

For additional resources to keep your employees feeling valued and appreciated, reach out to our team of employee engagement experts at Motivosity.