Remote working is no longer a choice – it’s a necessity…
This means that managers all over the globe are now being faced with a brand new challenge – managing an entire team remotely. If this marks your first time in a remote working environment, you’re probably wondering how to maintain productivity, whilst boosting morale in a tough time. Luckily, we can help.
To ensure you and your team remain on track throughout the coronavirus pandemic, here are our top tips on how to manage workers remotely:
Working remotely may make you and your colleagues feel isolated.
Not only are you missing the casual interactions you get at the office, you’re also having to carry out all your work meetings virtually – which let’s face it, isn’t quite the same as real life.
That’s why maintaining regular communication while working from home is absolutely essential. Whether it’s to catch up on their progress, discuss tasks, or simply boost morale and motivation, both you and your colleagues will benefit from daily check-ins – by phone, email, IM, or video call.
It’s also a good idea to encourage casual conversations as well as work-based ones, both one-to-one, and as a team. This will help colleagues feel included and involved, and will give them the much-needed contact they are likely lacking in this difficult time.
Scheduling recurring team meetings via video conference, for example, will help the group as a whole to communicate, share, and collaborate effectively. You can also arrange casual chats, group lunches, and even virtual quizzes – all through video software.
At the very least, you’ll all get to see each other’s pets via webcam; and that’s one way to make a Monday.
Utilise remote working tools
2020 might not be working out well in many ways. But when technology is concerned, it’s totally got our backs.
With remote working tools and software available in abundance – whether they’re used to share files, update workstreams, or communicate in real-time – remote team management is much easier than it would’ve been ten or twenty years ago.
OK, you can’t talk face-to-face. But what you can do is pretty close.
Communication tools like Slack, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom provide the perfect way to keep in touch in the most human way possible, allowing you to incorporate tone of voice and facial expressions into your conversations.
You can also organise and share files easily via Google Drive or Dropbox, whilst other useful remote working tools include task organisation software, such as Trello or Jira.
Thanks to these, you can communicate with your colleagues in a more streamlined way – not to mention view, organise, and prioritise your workloads entirely online.
Set realistic expectations
Working from home can be tough for some people, especially if it’s their first time doing it. They may feel out of the loop, or that they’re lacking the direction they’d usually get daily in an office environment.
Your role is to help combat this, by not only helping them to understand their tasks, duties, and deadlines, but also to make sure they know why they’re doing it.
In addition to giving your colleagues a sense of purpose and accountability, knowledge of how you’ll measure success will also help them to produce the best work possible – that’s in line with your expectations and creates the best results overall.
And remember: managing expectations applies to you as well. Define the scope, goals, deadlines, and deliverables (both short-term and long-term) for each team member and project, and ascertain where you come in.
Lastly, make sure what you’re asking for is actually realistic. Working from home can blur people’s working hours, and cause them to work overtime without even realising it. Check that your team is on track by monitoring their progress regularly, making a note of any other work they may have acquired, and ensuring they have the time needed to complete their tasks.
Put outcomes above activity
Due to COVID-19, it’s likely that your entire team (including you) is now working from home for the foreseeable future. This probably gives you a lot less visibility on how they spend their time compared to what you may have had previously.
However, you can’t (nor should you) manage every move your team makes.
When it comes down to it, the effectiveness of remote working relies heavily on trust. All you can do is give your colleagues tasks, and be confident that they have the skills and expertise needed to carry them out effectively. You’ve done all you can – it’s up to them now.
This means no nagging. No micromanaging. And no getting too involved.
It also means focusing on measurable outcomes instead of activity or hours worked. Sure, they’re there, sitting at their makeshift desk or home office. But are they really there?
After all, the end product is the most important thing, and interfering with the process beforehand will only distract or throw your team off – not to mention make them feel like they aren’t trusted to do their job without constant hand-holding.
Nobody wants that.
Acknowledge the circumstances
Let’s face it, we’re living in unprecedented times.
Everyone who is used to working amongst their team, in an office, is now being forced to work remotely. On top of that, the world is in a constant state of panic.
Parents now have to juggle childcare and home-schooling alongside their work, those with pets are forced to refrain from inevitable dog-based distractions, and every single one of us has to create a quiet and productive environment to work in; which likely doesn’t have all the office comforts we’re used to (R.I.P. multiple screens).
Depending on the individual circumstances, this drastic switch in working environments might also mean that standard office hours and routines are a thing of the past.
As a manager, it’s your job to be understanding of each individual situation, and help your colleagues devise a flexible timetable that works best for them.
And above all? Acknowledge that things are tough, but remain positive and supportive. Your team will be looking to you for affirmation and assurance during this difficult time, and if you communicate stress or helplessness – you’ll only be deflecting those same feelings onto them.
Repeat after us: You. Can. Do. This.
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