Tips for Managing Remote Teams
The pandemic has created a necessity for remote teams, but it can be tough to transition as an employer. Some offices are allowing employees to choose if they want to stay remote, which means bosses need to shift their management style permanently to accommodate the new work situations. Everything from your code of conduct to your office dress code could be changing!
As a team leader, how you manage remote employees requires a little more creativity and flexibility on your part. Learn everything you need to know about leading a remote team with advice from the experts at Whitman Associates, Inc.
1. Setting Expectations
If you haven’t already done so, setting expectations early and often is critical for how you manage remote employees. You need to set clearer boundaries and performance goals to ensure that you have measurable milestones of success. Outlining availability, updating your team on policy updates and setting guidelines for responding to after-hours communications can help your remote employees maintain their work/life balance wherever they are.
2. Organization & Flexibility
Another tip for managing remote teams is to reconsider your organizational structure and flexibility. Hiring remote means your team members could be in different states or time zones. How do you manage remote employees who don’t always work the same hours? Some ideas to ensure workflow and consistency include:
- Managers on shifts to ensure availability at all times.
- A core of employees who work in the same zone with a few out-of-hours team members.
- Asking employees to work in a single time zone – even if they’re a few hours ahead.
3. Adapting Meeting Lengths
You might not have considered this when asking yourself how to manage remote employees, but things that work in the office don’t always work when you’re remote. Meetings are especially tricky when working remotely because employees are more easily distracted when they’re not there in person. Your team could be multitasking or not paying attention, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
Avoid situations where employees can zone out by minimizing meetings, shortening necessary calls and using email communication more often.
4. Tracking Worker Progress
Many managers worry that just because they can’t see their employees, that work is stagnating. When you create schedules, deadlines and measurable goals, you’re giving employees structure and guidelines for their everyday tasks and providing managers with more subtle oversight tools that won’t make employees feel smothered. How you manage remote employees requires balance, trust and communication.
5. Better Communication
Emphasizing communication is one of our top tips for managing remote teams. Because you can’t just walk over to an employee’s desk to talk, virtual communication is more important than ever. Experiment with communication channels to find out what works best for your team. You have tons of options, including:
- Phone Calls
- Intranet Channels
- Video Chats
- Internal Chat Tools
How you manage remote employee communication is up to you, but it’s best to choose a method your team will actually utilize.
6. Build Connections
Because working remotely essentially isolates your employees, networking within your work environment is more important than ever. Whether you open a fun chat for employees to share pet photos or reach out frequently to communicate positive feedback, building those interpersonal relationships will help employees bond and trust each other and you.
You can also schedule several team-building days throughout the year to provide employees with more opportunities to work together on fun, creative tasks.
7. Listen to Your Team
The most successful managers know when to listen to their team. One of our top tips for managing a remote team is learning to take feedback when it’s coming up the ladder. This is a new situation for them as well as you, and they could provide new perspectives and ideas that could help you do your own job better.
When you become a good listener, you’re also building more respect, trust, and communication with your team. Ask for feedback during meetings and create surveys to see where your leadership, organizational structure and workflow could use a boost.
8. Create Collaboration Opportunities
Because isolation is such a serious problem with remote employees, you should go out of your way to create collaboration opportunities on projects. How you manage collaboration with remote employees could include shared documents, collaboration in virtual environments, team-building exercises and in-person bonding.
9. Resist Micromanagement
You should be confident in your employees and trust their work ethic even if they’re not in a physical office. While regular check-ins are a great tool in how you manage remote employees, don’t breathe down their neck during every single task. Guidelines and work tracking can help you avoid micromanagement if you need updates on small tasks, but you should trust your employees to deliver. At the end of the day, the work will speak for itself, and you’ll be able to spot a slacker pretty quickly.
10. Reward Success
Because it’s harder to recognize great work for remote teams, you’ll need to make an effort to find more opportunities to reward and celebrate success. Consider staff highlights on the company website, shout-outs in the office chat and other public forms of recognition to ensure your employees feel seen and appreciated.
Need more tips to keep employees motivated? Check out our blog to find advice for employers and employees today!