Stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic are creating a challenge for many businesses. For many, it’s the first time that managers are in charge of leading remote employees. Fortunately, there are effective, research-based tips that managers can adopt to improve the productivity and engagement of remote employees.
What You Need to Know Before Managing a Remote Team
Stay-at-home orders prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic are creating a challenge for many businesses. For many, it’s the first time that managers are in charge of leading remote employees. And just as we expect distance to affect our personal relationships, the same is also true for work relationships. Fortunately, there are effective, research-based tips that managers can adopt to improve the productivity and engagement of remote employees.
Here are best practices for a remote team management:
Set Expectations Clearly
Every business has its objectives: whether working virtually or remotely. Being clear about your expectations with your employees will keep them focused and working towards a common goal.
Some of the things you should discuss beforehand include:
- Working hours
- Communication systems
- Key projects and deadlines
- Scheduled meetings
- Responding to email on time
- And more
Be Organized and Flexible
Many parents are juggling work and keeping their children on task with homeschooling, so when it comes to managing a new remote team, it’s important to allow flexible working hours to maintain consistency. Although you must have a concrete plan, be open to adjusting strategies as needed. Whether your employees choose to work early in the morning or evening should not be an issue, as long as they complete that task assigned to them and maintain high-quality standards.
Brush Up on Your Online Communication
Email alone isn’t going to be sufficient. Remote workers need a “richer” technology, such as video conferencing, which give participants visual cues just like with face-to-face communication. Visual cues help reduce the feeling of isolation and increase “mutual knowledge” among team members. Video is also useful for sensitive or complex conversations, as it feels more personal than audio-only or written communication.
Besides, here are other things you can do with a video call:
- Have team discussions
- Track productivity
- Keep track of project evolution
- Share information in real-time
- Manage the tasks on a task list
Promote Encouragement and Emotional Support
Working from home and self-isolating is a perfect recipe for stress, especially when it happens abruptly. Therefore, if an employee seems to be struggling but not communicating about their stress and anxiety, a general question such as “How is this working from home situation working out for you?” can elicit important information.
Listen carefully to the employee’s response and restate it back briefly to ensure that you clearly understood the matter. Then, acknowledge the difficulties they are experiencing and provide affirmation of your confidence in the team. You can use phrases such as “I know this is tough, but we can handle it,” or “let’s come up with ways to stay strong and productive during this time.” Such support can help your employees to take up the challenge with a great sense of focus and purpose.
Working from home has become more than a trend, and it’s now a necessity for many companies worldwide. As a result, thousands of team leaders find themselves managing remote workers, even without adequate information about how to go about it. However, the above list of tips will help set yourself and your team for success.