A Guide to Effective Remote Team Management

Managing teams remotely can be much trickier than doing so in the office. You are trying to maintain productivity, your team’s happiness and ensure that their work-life balance is just right whilst not seeing them every day.

Managing a team that are all working from home

With a large percentage of teams now working from home, you may need to adjust your activities and your management approach to suit the new situation. Have no fear there are lots of self-help books online, but if you would like an abbreviated version, take a look at our handy tips below.

Communication

Arguably the most important function of management is communication. The hierarchical structure of most businesses is organised so information can be fed down the layers to the bottom. This is usually done via the management team. However, without clear, concise and regular communication it becomes like Chinese whispers and rumour mills fuel wrong and potentially damaging messages.

With remote workers, isolated from the usual forms of communication, it is even more important to keep channels of communication open and strong. Aided by today’s modern technology this is made quite simple. Video conferencing tools mean that you can bring your whole team together in an effortless and community environment.

Scheduling a regular daily call in the morning with your whole team means that you can not only update each other on what happened the day before, but you can gather action plans from everyone on what they are going to do today. Keeping everyone on the same page means that no one will duplicate work where it isn’t needed, and everyone is up-to-date on what is happening (especially important in this rapidly changing situation).

Don’t forget to check in with your team on a more personal level. Find out if they and their families are okay, share ideas on activities for any children and what you have all been doing in your free time.

Trust

Ask yourself as a manager, “Do I trust my team?”

Trust underpins every action a manager takes towards their team and this is amplified tenfold when some or all of that team are working from home.

There are many layers to the trust metaphor:

  1. Do you trust that your team will actually work when not under supervision?
  2. Do you trust your team to access company resources without stealing them?
  3. Do you put trust in your team’s ability to effectively conduct their role?
  4. Do you trust them to follow the correct protocol?
  5. Do you trust yourself?

If your answer is no to any of these then there is a deeper problem with your trust issues or with the person you have hired. If your answer to ALL of these is no then you need to take a step back and re-evaluate your position as a manager and your hiring technique.

Reassurance and Encouragement

Working from home can become quite demotivating, you don’t have someone sitting next to you to bounce ideas off, communication comes in the form of emails most of the time and you have more distractions to take your focus away from your work.

A little bit of encouragement and reassurance from you can go a long way with your team. Don’t overdo it and come across patronising but making sure you acknowledge when they have done a good job, offers motivation for their next assignment.

Be Understanding

You cannot expect the same 9-5 day from everyone as you would in the office. With children off school, the people in your team who are parents are having to juggle being an employee, a parent and a teacher – give them some slack.

Running errands for loved ones and those who are vulnerable can also be tricky to fit around the normal 9-5 workday – make sure when you are communicating with your team to check in with them on a personal level to see if they and their situation is okay.

Continue to Invest

Regardless of where your team is, all of them still rely on you as their manager for support and training. Ensure that they have all of the tools and equipment they need to be as successful at home as they are in the office (here is a little guide on some of the free tools on the market to help facilitate to move to working from home). Training is equally important; by using virtual meetings and webinars to facilitate, training can double up as wellbeing calls to ensure that your team’s needs are being met.

Adapt and Improve

In an ever-changing business and technology landscape, it’s important to keep your eyes on the ball with respect to process and delivery management. As a manager, continue to analyse the successes and challenges of your team and how they could be improved for a higher return on investment. This could be changing a method of submission from paper to electronic, investing in a new web-suite to guarantee cross platform compatibility across your employee’s devices, or even recruiting new team members virtually through video interviewing and online assessment!

If you would like to talk to us further about virtual recruitment, please get in touch with your local office.

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