Remote work has become a necessity for companies all across the world. As a result, there are thousands of team leaders and managers who find themselves suddenly managing a remote team.
The challenges of the new working pattern and of not being in one room together could be overcome by reviewing the company’s workflows. Here are a few strategies that worked for us as an organization in the remote work situation:
1. Ample Face time with co-workers and managers
It’s easier to follow moods and address mounting disappointments proactively in shared workspaces. People habitually scan faces and body postures to “read” reactions to things we say and do. So, employees are conditioned to pick up on cues through routine interactions with managers and co-workers. This is as true for constructive feedback as it is for friendly reassurance.
Implementing a company-wide policy that everyone is available for meetings and calls during their respective work hours sets the expectations from both managerial and employees perspectives. This helps overcome the challenges of miscommunication and daily scheduling in a remote environment making work-life smoother and more productive right from the beginning.
2. Identify and implement the right tools
An important aspect of successfully managing remote employees is to make all necessary tools easily accessible as needed. Remote employees need the same access to things utilized by onsite employees, which include (but are not limited to):
- Policy and procedure manuals
- Presentation templates and supplies
- Mail supplies and stationery
- Software programs from video-calling software to internal communication platforms
Using the right tools will solve many problems that come with managing the remote team
3. Communication is the key to foster connections
For managers, the challenge is to lead, inspire, and direct their team in their daily course of work, while being physically remote. Yet the most effective one-on-one calls aren’t just about monitoring productivity, it is about keeping remote employees motivated and engaged.
Ideally, regularly scheduled one-on-one calls – whether daily, weekly or biweekly – can help a manager:
- Determine if the employee is doing well overall.
- Work with the staff member to identify and eliminate bottlenecks.
- Discuss plans for the employee’s professional development.
- Answer a range of questions relevant to the employee.
- Setting up small, cross-functional teams with clear objectives and a common purpose to keep everyone on the same strategic course.
4. Instilling a caring ethos
Empathy is crucial, as companies transition to the new normal. It’s important to acknowledge that some employees may be facing other pressures at home, including caring for their children when schools are shut, leading to feelings of isolation and insecurity. Business leaders need to respect and address these additional needs.
Inclusion is the ultimate form of empathy - Offering a way to connect, promote inclusiveness, and create a sense of community in a void of physical interaction can spur motivation. Connecting on a personal level and instilling empathy within the culture when working remotely will make the employees feel valued and foster a deeper professional relationship.
5. Finding a new routine
When we have systematic habits, we often find ourselves less stressed, less overwhelmed, and more likely to reach our goals. In a time full of change and uncertainty, creating a work-from-home routine will produce a sense of stability in the team. Remote working risks disrupting the office-based flows and rhythms and it can be easy to hit the wrong note or miss important virtual meetings due to packed schedules. Spending time with the team addressing the nuts and bolts of how you will work together, cover the daily rhythm, individual constraints, and specific norms one will commit to will create a powerful remote team.
6. Taking security seriously
Security concerns add a layer of complexity to the technological side of remote working and can have serious consequences, in particular when employees are not aware of safe practices or switch to unauthorized tools to get their work done. Doing it right requires giving employees the tools they need to be productive while managing data confidentiality and access.
These mechanisms will allow an organization to address the issue:
- Establishing a confidentiality culture
- Mandating awareness training,
- Limiting data access to a need-to-know basis.
The major reason why employees choose to work remotely is flexibility. Giving employees the flexibility and benefit of the doubt is a good way to encourage honesty, truthfulness and also loyalty towards the company.
Understanding that the team has a lot going on but setting the expectation that it’s not an excuse for not getting things done, but a reason to reconsider what productivity means is good for the team in the long run. The best method is to trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive.
8. Art of appreciation
Time and again, studies have shown the benefit of positive reinforcement. Many people who work remotely feel lonely and underappreciated. The lack of human interaction and all that comes with it, special events, birthdays, small celebrations, etc. is missing from a remote team. Appreciating an employee and celebrating their and the company’s milestones have massive psychological benefits. Not only does it foster a sense of belonging but it makes the team feel valued, respected and appreciated.
To summarise, managing a remote team is no easy task, however, following these tips will help create a framework to build a remote team management strategy. All that’s ultimately required is patience, respect, and communication.
What do you think? Do share your thoughts. We would like to hear them.