The shift towards remote work has been an ongoing trend for several years but was accelerated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Given the circumstances, many companies had to make the switch to remote work almost overnight, leaving managers with a daunting task of learning how to lead a successful remote team. However, with remote work becoming more popular, managers now have time to implement strategies that will ensure their team’s productivity over time. In the following sections, we will discuss each of the ten remote working tips for managers in detail.
Set Clear Expectations
Setting clear expectations is one of the most crucial aspects of managing a remote team. It’s vital to define team goals and objectives and create realistic timelines for each project. This not only sets the tone but also helps your remote team know what they should be working on and by when. Setting clear expectations will also help you avoid misunderstandings and unmet expectations within the team.
While setting clear expectations, it’s also essential to communicate with remote employees on the company’s goals, core values, and culture explicitly to make sure everyone is on the same page. This can be achieved through various channels, such as virtual meetings, emails, and team messaging platforms.
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is the absence of face-to-face interaction with your team. Regular communication is a must to keep your team members aligned and on track. For managers to ensure this, it is essential to establish a regular meet-up schedule that’s tailored to their team’s needs.
Weekly standing meetings or daily check-ins via video conference calls or messaging platforms can ensure that each team member has an opportunity to voice their opinions, ideas or raise any concerns. This helps improve collaboration, and it can also ensure that team members stay connected to the organization’s larger goals and objectives.
Provide the Right Tools & Resources
Working remotely creates new challenges for team members. In most cases, remote workers typically have to learn new tools, manage their time effectively, and adjust their workspace to combat distractions. It’s essential to provide remote employees with the right tools and resources that they’ll need to succeed in their role.
As a manager, you will need to equip your team with project management software, virtual communication tools, and any other tools they require to accomplish their work. Providing a comprehensive list of tools to your team will ensure everyone is on the same page, minimizes confusion, and ensures your team has no excuses not to deliver.
Create a Supportive Work Environment
What makes remote work productive isn’t how nice an office area is, but how supported you feel while doing it. In the case of remote work, creating a supportive work environment means being available as a manager, a trusted sounding board, and an advocate for remote workers.
To create this kind of work environment, a manager must:
- Establish a virtual workplace community such as a virtual water cooler;
- Foster an inclusive culture that resonates with remote employees;
- Provide constructive feedback and guidance to team members consistently.
Encourage Regular Breaks
Working remotely can create the idea of always needing to be available to your team, with some employees feeling pressured to work beyond their normal hours, as they may not have a clear separation between life and work. Therefore, a manager should encourage remote workers to take breaks during the workday.
This not only helps employees refresh their minds, but it’s also an excellent way to combat the stress of working remotely. Encourage regular breaks, preferably away from the computer screen or in a different workspace altogether, to clear the mind, stretch, and move around.
Clarify the Decision-Making Process
Unclear decision-making processes can be a significant liability for remote teams. For example, without a defined process, employees can quickly get stuck and unable to move forward with their work. In most cases, remote employees may not have direct access to their manager, making clarification on decision-making crucial for any remote team.
As a manager, it’s essential to define the decision-making process and ensure everyone is well-informed. This may involve creating a flowchart or establishing clear guidelines outlining the decision-making process for various situations. Having a clear process will eliminate confusion, increase confidence within the team, and empower remote workers to make decisions independently.
Foster Collaboration & Communication
Collaboration and communication play a significant role in the success of remote teams. This is particularly true when remote workers are spread across different regions and cultures. Managers must create an environment that fosters collaboration and communication, ensuring everyone is working together, rather than separately.
There are several strategies managers can use to promote collaboration and communication in a remote team. For example, setting up team-building exercises or virtual happy hours could be a fun way of socializing and getting to know each other better. In addition, establishing virtual whiteboards or virtual project workspaces can also increase productivity.
Ensure Everyone Has a Clear Understanding of Their Role
When working in a remote team, it’s essential to make sure that each team member understands their role and responsibilities. This is particularly true when it comes to delegating tasks or ensuring each team member is performing optimally. As a manager, ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them and understands their role’s contribution to the overall success of the project or team.
Clear communication of each team member’s responsibilities and expectations can go a long way in ensuring that the team consistently delivers on its projects. Providing clear guidelines and support from the manager will also help remote employees know when they are performing well or need to make improvements.
Give Feedback & Recognition
Providing feedback is critical to the success of any team, even in a remote working environment. Giving feedback ensures that everyone is aligned to the needs of the organization and that employees are made aware of their performance. Feedback provides an opportunity to improve and refine the skills of remote workers, promote continuous growth, and can also improve morale.
As a manager, providing constructive feedback nurtures trust and growth within the team. Creating a culture of feedback can benefit the entire team and can be beneficial for helping employees stay engaged and remain productive.
Flexibility is a vital aspect of successful remote work. It allows remote employees to balance their work and personal lives and remain focused on their work even in the most demanding situations. As a manager, understanding that remote employees need a balance between their work and home lives is essential.
It’s essential to be flexible with the team’s working conditions and different time zones, which can be beneficial to team members aiming to balance work and personal engagements. Adjusting work hours, communication channels, or providing an environment that meets remote workers’ needs helps to foster independence, accountability, and ownership of their work.
In conclusion, managing a remote team can be a challenging task, but with the right strategies, it can be a rewarding experience for both the manager and the team. Setting clear expectations, communicating regularly, providing the right tools and resources, creating a supportive work environment, encouraging regular breaks, clarifying the decision-making process, fostering collaboration and communication, ensuring everyone has a clear understanding of their role, giving feedback and recognition, and being flexible are all crucial steps managers can take to ensure remote workers remain productive and motivated.
As more companies adopt remote work policies, these tips will continue to be useful in ensuring that remote workers remain engaged and productive. By following these strategies, managers can overcome the difficulties of managing a remote team while providing a supportive, productive, and effective work environment that will help remote team members feel connected to their organization and motivated to do their best work.