Communication: Remote Supervision – Tools

Some employees now have the option to telecommute for part of their work-week. Others may be housed away from their immediate supervisor due to the needs of the organization. With all this distance between the employee and supervisor, there has to be some viable alternatives to replace the face-to-face encounters we’ve come to rely upon. Anything that better assists you in remote supervision should be on the table for consideration. Below are some tools where the use of available technology could be a benefit.

  • Mode of communication– Make it clear to the employee what type of communication is available and most appropriate.  For complicated issues, you’ll want to use your work phone or call or chat through Microsoft Teams instead of using e-mail.  Also allow the employee to have input for how they respond the best.  As of right now, we can use work phones for calls, cell phones for calls, cell phones for text messaging, Microsoft Teams for calls and chats.  Working with a multi-generational workforce, you could have one employee that prefers a phone call and another that prefers an IM or text message.  If you’re a County Director or have messaging capabilities on a work cell phone, then let your staff know that’s another way you can stay in touch when away from the office.
  • Microsoft Teams & Gemba – When you can’t “walk the Gemba,” conduct it in Microsoft Teams.  You don’t have to be there in person to see what’s being entered in the computer while the worker is interviewing a client, working an MCR, typing case notes, or managing their workflow.  By having your worker “share” their screens through Microsoft Teams, you can observe all of these processes done on the computer.
  • Outlook calendar Microsoft Teams status– Along with your own Outlook Calendar, have your employee keep their Outlook Calendar as up to date and thorough as possible. This way both you and the employee will know the best times the other can be reached and the times when there’s no use even trying.  Interview times, meetings, breaks, lunch, and planned leave should all be posted on the calendar where the other can see. Microsoft Teams also has a field to update your status and create a status message as well as a place to update your location and status.
  • Group meetings/Training– As most of staff is now involved in telework, use Microsoft Teams for group meetings or training.

For additional information regarding tools for Remote Supervision, refer to Microsoft Office 365 instructions.

The thought of supervising someone from a distance can be a little frightening. How can you tell if someone is doing their job or needs extra help if you can’t even see them? Remote work is not totally brand new for our agency but is still in the early stages for many in the state, so it will take time to adjust to this new way of supervising. The good news is you’re not alone, but you must exhaust all potential resources. Use the tips provided in this article, reach out to those that are already remote supervising or have done so in the past, and learn from your mistakes. And maybe most important of all, don’t be afraid to try something new.

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