Remote working, although not new, has been hitting headlines around the world since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. And there are plenty of reasons to get excited about remote working – the advantages are many and companies are recognising these benefits. According to a recent poll done by Gartner, a research and advisory firm in Connecticut, USA, 90% of HR leaders said that workers would be allowed to work remotely, even after the Covid-19 pandemic.
But managing a remote team presents its own challenges – specifically how to keep remote employees engaged and productive!
Below we look at five tips to managing a successful remote team.
1. Trust your employees
Trust is the foundation of any successful relationship, work or otherwise. But many managers struggle with the uncertainty about whether work will be completed to the same standard as it would if the employee was in the office. Others worry about the time thief! Don’t be tempted to increase your level of oversight of the employee’s work. This micromanaging will lead to low employee morale and engagement.
Instead step back and trust your employees to deliver what is expected of them. Which leads onto the next point.
2. Set clear expectations
Just as you would for staff in the same office, set clear expectations with remote staff around their duties, priorities and deadlines. So long as these expectations are realistic and focus on outcomes, employees will be clear what constitutes success when working remotely. Additionally, have clear expectations on working hours. It is easy when working from home to blur the line between work and life. Knowing that it is not necessary to answer emails outside of working hours is important to the work/life balance.
3. Have regular and varied communication
Appropriate communication is key. Regular, pre-arranged 1:1 meetings allow the manager to check on progress and the employee to voice any concerns or barriers to success. Team meetings help the remote workers to feel connected. Task management tools offer transparency to remote workers and allow team members in different locations to work on the same project. Chat apps provide the opportunity for urgent, simple conversations. Having regular and varied communication helps remote workers to feel connected and to work as part of a successful team.
4. Be perceptive
Face to face meetings provide an opportunity to read the body language and facial expressions of attendees to gauge their mood and can help to identify tensions, conflict or other issues. Video conferencing can go some way towards this, but camera angle and quality and quality of the connection can still make this tricky. Pay special attention to tone of voice and changes in pitch and pace that can help to identify any potential issues.
5. Equip Employees
For most this probably just means a good quality laptop and mobile phone, but it’s important to recognise that in order to be successful the employee must have the technology they need to do the job. For example, is the internet where they will be working adequate for video calls, is it secure and do they have an adequate camera?
Also, don’t assume they know how to use virtual tools. Perhaps training is required. And maybe they need an ergonomic work set up at their remote office?
Maintain your team’s culture
Maintaining your team’s or organisation’s culture when some of your team work remotely is often a manager’s greatest concern. There are a few things you can do to help develop and maintain a great remote working team culture.
- Ensure you have the correct communication tools and procedures in place including allowing remote workers to remain connected.
- Make sure your remote workers understand your organisation’s values and align themselves accurately.
- Invite remote workers to use the platforms for casual as well as business conversations.
- Recognise things like remote worker’s birthdays or have team lunches virtually! In fact the more innovative you are, the more connected and engaged your team are likely to feel.
How can we help
At The Back Room we are experienced at managing a successful remote team. So, if you are considering outsourcing, or would like to discuss how a remote team might work for you, give us a call.