Important Tips on How to Manage Your Newly Remote Team

Remote working has been expeditiously cored upon us and managers have had little time to prepare for this new way of working. Leading a virtual team can be a creepy prospect and if its introduction were part of a normal transformation program, learning and development would be at the top of the agenda to ensure that the change is successful and sustainable. The pandemic did not afford us the luxury of time and so managers and employees have been thrown in at the deep end, muddling through as best as possible to keep businesses adrift.

Lead With Empathy: It’s important to consider that this current version of working from home isn’t like working remotely for the afternoon to oversee home repairs or taking a day to focus on a big project outside the office. Our daily lives and routines have been impacted undoubtedly and making the necessary lifestyle adjustments won’t be simple for some people. Employees may not have dedicated work-from-home spaces in their homes and might also be faced with an additional challenge.So encourage regular feedback as well so you can modify expectations together, in real-time.

Grasp technology and use it: Find out what collaboration tools you have access to and utilize them at every given opportunity. With remote working, communication must be more deliberate, especially to start with, so make sure your team knows what tools are there, what they are for, and ensure that they are always responsible for emails, texts, phone calls, video calls, chat, etc.  

If you have a mix of people in the office and people at home, make sure that you include everyone. This is often the most challenging of plot as sometimes those who are not in the office can be forgotten about and miss key pieces of information.

Video calls: Get used to video calls as your team needs to see you and each other, maybe not every day (Zoom fatigue is real), but at least a couple of times a week. Never underestimate the power of non-verbal communication, a smile, the raise of an eyebrow, a shrug. It is these little movements that make people feel connected, and as a manager, it is your opportunity to gauge how your team is feeling as non-verbal cues are easily missed over a phone call. If you saw a member of your team in the office looking unusually down, not smiling as much, a bit rumpled, you would (hopefully) speak to them privately to find out if everything is ok. The principle is the same for remote teams and video calls are your way to see that things are as they should be.   

Resist the urge to micromanage : Effective virtual working is based on trust and communication. The key is to focus on output, not an activity, and regular meetings with your team and customers will enable you to keep an eye on everything. Micromanagement has no place in a high-performing virtual working environment and as the leader of the team, you have a duty to role model appropriate behavior. Define and clearly communicate expectations, cover everything from the delivery of work, to meetings, sharing information, working time, and practices, and don’t be afraid to get input and ideas from your team. Increased flexibility around hours and mixing time with non-work-related tasks is one of the distinct advantages of remote working. If you obsess overactivity and online-presenteeism, you will stifle motivation and create a culture of mistrust. So long as you have core hours covered for your customers, why not let teams embrace all the benefits of working from home?

Don’t be afraid to manage poor performance: If staff is communicating clearly, meeting goals, and the limit and your customers are happy, you can feel assured that your employees are being productive and doing their jobs effectively. Where this isn’t happening though, just like in the office, it is best to dram it in the bud quickly. Start as you always would, gather examples, and meet in person if possible. If a face-to-face meeting isn’t an option, via video is fine. Avoid phone calls or sharing your concerns via text message or email.During the hard times, increased flexibility is required, and you should fully explore the reasons why the individual’s output is not as expected before moving to a formal procedure. It may be that it is not a capability or a conduct issue at all. It could be that they don’t have the tools that they need, the right space to work from, and so on.

Encourage Natural Breaks Throughout the Day: Going from working in an office every day to working from home all the time isn’t the easiest changeover to make. Some people might even feel like they have to stay glued to their workspaces. so they never miss an email, message, or phone call. But that’s not necessarily how they would be operating back in the office—so it’s crucial to remind your team that it’s OK to step away for a while and always feel comfortable to work in a positive mood.


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