You may be one of the many managers new to managing a remote team as a result of our new normal of social distancing. Whether this will be a permanent shift or not, it can be challenging to ensure your employees remain engaged, connected and productive. We have spent a great deal of time working from home (and managing our completely remote team!) so we are here to help you navigate being a remote team manager.
5 Tips On How To Manage A Remote Team
Make Sure Your Team Is Set Up For Success At Home
Your team will need the appropriate hardware and software to work from home successfully. It is your responsibility to ensure they have the computer they need and high-speed internet available to them.
Employees need to be aware of their responsibilities to secure specific items that are not provided by your organization. They should also know about any reimbursement protocol if they have to pay up front for internet service.
Use Technology For Face Time With Employees
Working remotely can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection, making face-to-face connection of paramount importance. Seeing your team members in person – even when through a screen – helps to reduce feelings of isolation and builds team rapport. This fosters teamwork, and helps your employees feel that you are doing the work to engage with them and address their needs.
Use Zoom or Microsoft Teams to meet with your entire team at once. Make sure to schedule regular one-on-one video meetings as well.
Communicate, Communicate, And Did We Mention Communicate?
As a remote team manager, your employees will need to know when they can expect to get a hold of you. They will want to know that you are available to them on a regular basis. Let them know how to best get in touch with you based on the priority of a situation (e.g., Slack for nonessential questions, call for urgent issues). Also communicate that you will get back to them within a certain period of time so they can be assured that you will respond.
Daily check-ins, even if brief, are important to remote employees as you are letting them know you are thinking of them and have their success in mind. Having these meetings scheduled will allow your employees to batch process certain issues that aren’t urgent. This way you’re not receiving messages all day long (unless you are keen on that!).
It is also key to train your employees to assume that you always have good intentions in your communication with them. Otherwise, you can lose time if they read into your tone instead of knowing that you would let them know if there was a problem. This will save everyone time and mental energy in the long run.
Set And Manage Expectations
Set expectations, but don’t micromanage. You and your employees should focus on outcomes, not the number of hours spent working from home. Working from home looks different but can produce the same success as working in an office.
Make sure to set clear deadlines for deliverables, and connect on a broader weekly call to set reset priorities.
Given that employees may be spread out across different time zones, it should be expected that some will need to get up really early for calls and should be able to leave “the office” earlier to compensate for the early start time.
Expect that employees will take needed breaks and may not always respond to you immediately. They too should have expectations set on how long it will take them to respond to you and how they prefer to be reached if something is urgent.
Set The Tone For Your Team
More than ever, managing remote teams means you are responsible for setting the tone for the team. Your attitude will be contagious. You must be intentional to set a positive tone – even if the stress is getting to you (your team is not the entity you should be venting to).
Make sure your employees know you have their backs and want to ensure their needs are met even while at home. Help them understand the “why” behind your requests and keep them informed about organizational developments. This will help them to feel connected even when they are not physically present.
Challenges Of Managing A Remote Team
The idea of managing a remote team can be daunting. There are new distractions (“not now kids”), and new challenges that you wouldn’t encounter in a typical office setting. But with the right processes in place, a bit of empathy for your employees, and some patience and fortitude, working from home can be really productive for your team.
If you are new to managing a remote team, know that it may take a little bit of time for you and your employees to adjust. Encourage your team to provide you with candid feedback on how things are going with the new way of working. As a team, working remotely can benefit all of you. Managing remote teams can be challenging, but our top 5 tips for managing remote teams should help you and your team to be successful – whether in the office or at home.
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