Managing lone workers is a skill and requires time. If you are a team leader you might be familiar with the difficulties of keeping your lone workers safe, engaged, and on task whilst getting on with your own job.
The fact that your staff are remote means you can’t just pop your head round their divider or section and ask how they are getting on with a task, or notice when they are worryingly late back from lunch. Or even give them quick updates following your management meeting.
And, as sad as it seems there can be a slight case of ‘out of sight, out of mind’. As much as we don’t like to admit this could be the case, you are only human, and it is difficult to remember everything when you are busy and under pressure.
But it is important for the morale of your team and the effectiveness of your department to ensure your lone workers are as much a part of the business as everyone else.
Here we run down 4 challenges you might come across when managing lone workers in your team and how to solve them.
1) You Don’t Know How Much Work They Are Doing
It would be lovely to assume everyone goes to work with the same attitude as you. Work hard, complete tasks on time, and do what it takes to get the job done. But unfortunately, not everybody does have that attitude. Even the most dedicated amongst us can be tempted to take a long lunch break if there is no risk of being caught.
Or, some people can’t get enough of working and go above and beyond, working late all the time and taking on extra duties. Which is fantastic on paper, but it can lead to burnout and stress.
Either way, it can be hard to know how much work is actually getting done until it is too late and a deadline is hours away.
Using a productivity management tool, such as Asana, Basecamp, or Podio can be a great way of setting tasks and deadline and tracking how long they are taking to complete.
If this isn’t practical, a daily phone call or weekly meeting gives your staff the opportunity to tell you what they have done and flag where they are going to miss deadlines. It helps you keep on top of projects before it is too late.
2) Your Staff Are Always Moaning
You are starting to dread taking a phone call or reading an email from some of your staff, because every time you do it is just more moaning. Why can’t we all just be adults and get on with our jobs?
Having to listen to ‘he said/she said’ or petty complaints can feel like a serious drain on your time, resources, and energy.
Plus, one unhappy team member will talk to other team members, and before you know it your whole team could be demoralised, stressed, and handing in either their notice or a sick note.
So it is worth nipping in the bud.
Well, happy staff don’t moan. So, even though you might have to grit your teeth to do it, it is worth reading their emails or taking their calls.
As their manager it is your responsibility to make sure your staff are productive, healthy, and doing their job well. Which means listening to their concerns and doing something about it.
Even if you can’t solve all their problems, knowing that they have your attention and sympathy will go a long way in boosting their morale and affection for the team.
3) They Have Formed Their Own Gangs
Whilst it is great that your team get on and have friends, cliques can be damaging to productivity and morale, and lead to fractious relationships.
It isn’t reasonable to expect everyone to be best friends, but it is reasonable to expect them not to start excluding others or being unfriendly, especially if you expect them to work in pairs or groups.
Having team social events is a great way of bringing them together. You could do a team sport, organise an annual away day, or even just go for dinner every few weeks.
Or if enforced fun isn’t your thing, or geography doesn’t permit it, try setting up a group chat or Facebook group so you can all share jokes, suggestions, anecdotes, or plans.
4) You Are Worried For Their Safety
If you have lone workers, you are right to be worried about their safety. If you aren’t sure why you should be worried, read this blog.
Knowing where your lone workers are, when they finish a risky task, and if they run into difficulty can be tricky when you are busy yourself, or they work in a remote location with poor signal.
With the best will in the world, check in/out procedures can go out of the window if you, or they, are in a meeting, on a phone call, or off sick.
And if they did fail to check in? Would you know how to respond quickly enough? Would you be able to pinpoint their exact location for the emergency services with 100% accuracy?
You can get on with your job and be confident that your lone workers are being supported by our dedicated team of professionals in the alarm receiving centre. If your staff request assistance, we can use our Unique Reference Number to send the emergency services faster than a 999 call, and with an accurate location.
Managing Lone Workers-The Low Down
You might have noticed that the common theme in all of these solutions is having open avenues for regular communication.
As their manager, you should be available for them whenever they need you, whether that is for a bit of encouragement, to troubleshoot, to get something off their chest, or because they feel unsafe.