Before COVID-19, the majority of the employers kept their staff in the office through the working week, rarely remote working unless an emergency called for it. With the pandemic changing the rules of the play suddenly, managing remote teams surfaced as one of the biggest challenges.
According to an SHRM report, 71% of employers found managing remote teams and remote staff quite hard while adapting to the new norms of the workplace.
For many managers, it’s their first experience of managing a team from their desk at home. It can be somewhat daunting for a business that hasn’t previously endorsed working from home to have their whole squad work remotely overnight.
Rather than expecting it to be business as usual, managers need to prepare for remote working. Some employees who aren’t familiar with working from home will need guidance on how to adjust. Managers need to ensure their teams are still performing as they should while feeling comfortable in their new working environment.
Best Tips for Managing Remote Teams
We’ve come up with a list of best tips for managers who are not well aware of how to manage a remote team. So, let’s get started.
Mark the Tasks with Deadlines
When a team is remote working, setting boundaries from the start is essential to ensure that operations run smoothly. it’s a system staff aren’t used to, they will likely have questions. If you’re managing remote staff, you need to be readily available to give them any clarity they may require, whether it’s regarding performance, goals or priorities.
When your team’s schedules are different, find out a time each team member will be available to ensure you can contact them if needed. If everyone in the group is working the same hours, look into having a daily or weekly call to catch up on the tasks everyone is currently completing. Like you would in the office, management should make sure employees are aware of any changes in policy or modifications to the team and their working hours.
When working remotely, it’s easy to blur the lines between work and home life. Although it’s great to go above and beyond and show dedication, you should encourage your team to stick to office hours. Some of your team members might have different hours if they feel they can work better later in the day; that’s fine too.
Ensure the team members complete priority tasks during office hours and avoid contacting employees to complete jobs after office hours. Working like this can help towards keeping staff motivated and in a healthy home/work-life routine.
Stay Organised and Flexible
Remote working requires organisation and a solid plan to run as it should, even when the team isn’t in the office. Flexible work hours for staff who are remote may work well for your team. Whether employees choose to work in the morning or evening shouldn’t matter, as long as the work is completed to the quality expected. However, if multiple people on the teamwork different hours but need to work together, it could cause issues when meeting deadlines and completing projects. That’s why remote working is vital for a smooth transition from office to home, also making sure that change in hours doesn’t affect other team members.
Work Log Documents
Keep a document with each team member to add their main tasks and priorities. It will add structure to your team’s time, showing how their time works out. Having a document with all the assignments completed can ease the panic of having your whole team working remotely.
If your employees aren’t used to working from home, it may cause some uncertainty with how much work is done. But remember, just because you can’t see everyone working at their desks doesn’t mean the jobs are not being done. Keep in touch and up-to-date with your team and trust the process.
Project management tools are an excellent way to keep track of your employee’s tasks. This isn’t for watching how much work they’re doing but simply to see the projects they’re working on. One of our two top suggestions is the classic Google Drive. We’d recommend using sheets, so each team member can have their personal space to update with upcoming, existing or past tasks.
Trello is another excellent tool for remote teams to keep track of tasks. It’s a clean and well set out task board that you can share within the groups. Our favourite feature of Trello is the checklists that come within each board. Every member of the team will know how far the task has progressed.
Communicating with remote staff is essential, ensuring workers stay informed of deadlines, equipment and resources available to them, and work-related hurdles and expectations, including office schedules. This is what makes the tools used to communicate with the team so imperative. You should be well aware of what works best and fits the needs of all. Finding the balance of how your team interacts is vital.
Video calls, audio calls, texts or emails, there’s many to choose between! Of course, depending on their working relationship, the frequency of which your team communicates with each other may vary.
Checking employees have everything they need to work from home successfully is also essential. Something small can make a significant difference in how efficiently someone can work remotely.
If you’re communicating transparently with your team and staff are sticking to objectives and deadlines, there’s nothing not to trust with having your teamwork from home.
Being a good manager goes hand in hand with being a good listener. Communicating and respecting your team when it comes to workload, expectations and deadlines without micromanaging is essential. Take the time to listen to your team, take on board their feedback and act on it.
Listening lines up with your communication; you need it for remote working to be a success. As much as you want your team to listen to any instructions, you ask them to follow. It’s equally essential to take on board any requests or amendments they have.
Another aspect that needs your focus and attention in managing remote teams successfully is knowing how to talk to different people constituting your team. Since you cannot see the other person’s body language, it might lead to some sort of misunderstanding in getting to the point of the matter. You can learn more about effective communication over the phone in How to Answer the Phone (Tips and Etiquette).
Being flexible with your team when needed, giving them a friendly helping hand or making sure they are distinguishing home, and work-life is the way to go. You can maintain contact with your team through various means, and we’d highly recommend using Talk Home App, especially when internet connectivity at the other end is in question. That’s because they rely on local lines to ensure top quality connection and conversation.
To conclude, watching over your team like a hawk isn’t the best way to manage them. Being considerate, helpful and amicable with employees is what really makes a difference in remote working. Use the tools best suited to your team so everyone is up to date with the current projects and follow the tips listed in this write-up to overcome hurdles of remote working.