Managing a team remotely can be challenging, especially if you didn’t have enough time to prepare for it. Today, this is a problem many managers face in light of the pandemic and the globally enforced quarantine measures. Many companies have been forced to make their teams work remotely.
Though the circumstances leading to today’s wave of remote work are exceptional, working from home should no longer be considered unusual. Indeed, it is in everyone’s best interest to consider remote work as a new norm; not only because it brings many advantages but because it is becoming necessary as technology progresses and globalization intensifies.
As much as remote work can look like a mountain full of challenges, it doesn’t necessarily have to be. There are quick and cheap solutions managers can adopt to ease the transition.
How to get organized for remote working – and remote managing:
Managers have to keep everything in check. The main challenge of remote work is allowing flexible work while maintaining consistency. Technology can be your ally to stay organized, with various collaboration tools serving as bases for communication and planning with your remote employees.
- How to keep track of objectives. This software takes into account three essential elements a manager needs to keep track of: company objectives, team objectives and personal objectives. This allows quick and easy, pin-pointed and well-distributed goal setting.
- Trello’s interface can be used as a bulletin board to update on quite literally anything and everything going on in the organization. It is a visual to-do list and is extremely efficient in making projects go smoothly. It is ideal for smaller organizations and team projects.
- Similar to Trello – though better suited to larger organizations – Basecamp is an easy to set up management tool. Create a project, set objectives, assign tasks to team members and establish deadlines.
Collaboration tools should make your organization easier and more efficient. They should allow you to set objectives, create projects and groups, assign hierarchies of responsibility, monitor progress, establish deadlines; and all of this without complications.
It is crucial to remember that remote team management revolves around collaboration within a team. The ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes is imperative in order to make work remotely. Empathy, human touch, is a skill that every manager should work on, as it is extremely rewarding.
Especially in these times of uncertainty and abrupt shift to remote work, a manager should make himself available to acknowledge stress, concerns, questions. The simple question “how are you?” or “how are you finding remote work so far?” can make the difference. Employees will look to their managers for cues to guide them through a crisis situation. Work on your pep talks! Simple phrases such as “we can do this!” are enough to reassure employees. With palpable support, employees are likely to be more motivated and take up challenges with determination.
Establish some rules
It is easy to be distracted or demotivated when working from home. Establishing some rules of engagement is a good way of responding to this challenge. Remote work is more efficient and satisfying when managers set expectations and goals. Establish some rules: though they are working from home, employees have to respect working hours and deliver their work on time. Make sure, as a manager, that your employees can always reach you through emails or instant messaging. That way, if there are any doubts about tasks, they can ask and execute their work more efficiently.
Plan daily follow-ups
Just as you would check-up on your employee in the office, it is advantageous to establish daily check-ins with remote employees. These can be one-on-one or team calls if the team is highly collaborative. An important aspect of daily calls is to keep them regular and predictable. One advantage of remote working is that employees are free to organize their days while working from home. With properly organized check-ups, employees know that they can consult with their managers and that any question or concerns they have will be heard and addressed.
Provide some sort of remote social interaction
One of the main challenges of working remotely, especially in times of quarantine is loneliness, lack of human contact, which often leads to lack of motivation and unproductivity. Therefore, one of the most important and overlooked things managers can introduce are ways for employees to interact with each other. This means having informal conversations, about non-work topics.
An easy way to do so is to dedicate some time at the beginning of at the end of conference calls to catching up. Though there might not be much exciting content with quarantine, being able to talk about anything and everything freely when human contact has been so abruptly limited feels good! Another way to interact and keep team spirit is to organize virtual after-work get-togethers, only on video! Virtual office parties can be a blast. Above all, they present the advantage of reducing the feelings of isolation and promoting a sense of belonging.
For many, remote working has appeared as an unexpected event. However, considering the state of the world today, how fast it moves, especially with regards to digitalization and technology, remote work should no longer be an exceptional occurrence. The process of remote work cannot be rigid. It is important to keep it flexible, to maximize its efficiency. Let’s go!