Remote Teams Month: Managing a Remote Team
3rd November 2021
Remote Teams Month | Managing A Remote Team
Remote and hybrid teams are here to stay and leading them effectively takes an adapted set of skills. Creating a flexible work environment at home increases productivity, cuts out arduous commutes, strict dress codes and the need for maintained office space but it does come with its challenges. For managers this can include communication or technology difficulties, insufficient team engagement or lack of personal contact. To meet these challenges head on, we need to start with the difficulties faced by your team – social isolation, suboptimal work conditions at home… without going much further, the point we’re trying to make is that these very much mirror the list above. We are all in very much the same boat. So, what you and your team do to meet these challenges head on?
Treat others how they want to be treated
As advisory and analytics company, Gallup points out: “Some remote workers feel isolated by working alone, while others feel liberated. Some love 24/7 access to work; others need to have a real boundary between office and home”.
Use 1 to 1 chats and team meetings to gain opinion as your starting point.
A clear and consistent set of expectations from the start
Create clear and healthy boundaries for yourself and for others, by setting:
- Working hours and flexibility
- Daily and weekly check ins to keep connected as a team, to check in on each other’s well-being and keep workflow on track
- Expected outcomes and regular performance reviews
- Reasonable response times
- Communication channels
- Procedures for urgent situations.
Communication and teamwork
Managers need to make a point of recognising good progress and outcomes because this is vital to maintain and boost motivation and reduce isolation. Equally, if there are issues with the progress or outcomes that a particular individual is achieving, managers must feed this back promptly and provide or arrange training where necessary.
Let your team know they can always reach you at specific times of the day for help and advice on a few different communication channels. There are many various ways to collaborate in real-time, what works for some won’t work for others!
Foster relationships and social interaction between your team members, to reduce feelings of isolation, increase rapport and ease communication between people who may not meet often.
Making sure your team has access to the tools they need for their wellbeing, desk setup and to complete their role to the best of their ability, remains a key managerial task. This is made more of a challenge when your communication cues, such as body language or tone, are limited.
Active listening will help you spot the signs of distress in your colleagues, read between the lines, ask questions and help to address any issues before they become a bigger problem that will have an impact on wellbeing, workload or wider team.
Define your teams remote hiring and onboarding procedures
As this is such a large, key subject, we’re going to discuss this in our next blog.
While you might not want to lean on your direct reports for your own emotional support, make sure you have your own network to discuss any anxieties you’re facing. Remember to focus on the outcomes, not individual activities!
Leading a flexible team can be challenging but if managers follow these guidelines and ensure they communicate with their team and put their trust in them, they will not go far wrong.
MD Comment: “The adoption of a working from home model has for most of us been enforced by Covid. After a significant period of time the challenges wfh presents are only just being fully understood and as our knowledge increases we will all adapt. Different views and demands from wfh are becoming clear across generations, regions, job types etc. However, as we adapt one key principle of effective management, efficient work places and happy team members remains – communication – and its vital that managers ramp up meaningful out going comms and more importantly listen very carefully to the feedback they are getting from team members and act decisively.”
Next time: We’ll be looking at remote hiring.