With companies still needing to keep teams at home due to lockdown restrictions and managing the spread of COVID-19, managers have had to significantly change their approach to supporting and managing their teams. Managing people remotely is an entirely different experience to regular management and takes a different type of skills and approaches.
Managing remote teams is not something you can choose to leave to chance either. Letting employees continue their work remotely without guidance and support can cause irreparable damage, both for the company but also for employee relations, morale, and productivity. While many people can return to work on some level, there are still remote working requirements for many, and this leads to managers requiring a hybrid approach to their role. What’s more, many companies and employers are looking for higher performance and a marked improvement in business than the previous few months, so managers need to keep their standards high. Here we’re looking at tips to help you effectively manage a remote team:
Keep Communication Open
Communication becomes even more important when working remotely and the most successful remote teams have a variety of channels for different purposes. You can’t have the usual face-to-face morning briefing and equally, you can’t chat with your friends over lunch, but you can have channels of communication for both purposes, ensuring a virtual work environment which can mimic many elements of the usual office.
As team members work remotely you must ensure methods of communication are available for different purposes. Perhaps use an application like Microsoft Teams or Slack to allow for different channels for different purposes and Zoom can allow for more formal meetings and face-to-face catch ups. Many companies opt to keep email as a strictly formal form of communication for business-related tasks too. This ensures essential work tasks are streamlined and not overwhelmed by less essential, but still important, chat and conversation.
Provide the Resources they Need
Your team needs to be able to work remotely as if they were in the office and not everyone has the resources to do so at home or their chosen work location. Offices comes with all the resources you need from ergonomic furniture to canteens and vending machines. Of course, you can’t provide employees with coffee on tap but you can make sure they have the internet connection they need to facilitate workflow from home or help with tips and guidance for creating a productive workspace. Something as simple as a Wi-Fi booster or headset for calls and video meetings may make all the difference.
Don’t Forget Team Spirit
Working remotely and in isolation can be hard for some people to take. It can become lonely and is very different to the normal busy work environment. Managers need to ensure the foster and work on team morale and team spirit, even when you can’t physically be together. Whether this means the occasional Zoom quiz or in informal chat channels to support your more formal work, and this will help ensure you have a sense of the office camaraderie and fun as well as getting on with the serious work.
If you’re looking for training courses to help you manage a remote team take a look at our Building and Managing Remote Teams course.