Remote work became the buzzword when the pandemic hit. As companies were scrambling to ensure that their operations continued even amidst a lockdown that some countries are still experiencing, it became the solution to most of their problems.
But while working remotely was the easiest solution to an unexpected problem, it also posed a new challenge to managers used to working with in-house personnel. All of a sudden, they had to rethink the way they operate, the way they communicate, and the way they evaluate their team’s performance.
If you find yourself in the same boat, read on to find out how you can manage and lead a team of remote workers effectively and efficiently.
- Emphasize the importance of communication
While your team was in the office it was easy to see who’s on break, who’s in a meeting, who’s out to lunch, or who’s not in for the day. You don’t have that same visibility on your team’s schedules when you’re working remotely. Thus, it is important to ensure that you’re not just communicating, but you’re “over-communicating.”
Setup a notifications channel on your preferred workplace chat app where team members are required to notify what they are doing if they would be unable to reply to messages. This way, everyone has a way of knowing where each other is and expectations are easily set and managed.
In general, you are always going to get a lot more out of your employees if you are making a point of being there with them as best as you can be. That means that you are engaged with them, fully involved in what they are doing at all times – and with the right approach, that is something that you can be sure of regardless of whether they are remote workers, or working in the office.
This is often an important part of total quality management. What is total quality management? Quite simply, it’s a set of procedures for best practice for managing your people and your business. You’ll find that it can apply easily and readily to any workplace, even one that utilizes remote workers.
- Have shorter meetings
Let’s face it, even when you were in the office you hated long meetings. Imagine having to sit through 3- or 4-hour meetings while working remotely. You would get distracted more easily and not everyone may get a chance to share their thoughts. Instead of these lengthy and often long-winded meetings, have shorter 30-minute virtual huddles with clear agendas, and everyone is encouraged to participate.
- Utilize collaborative tools
Similarly, you can operate using shared documents like Google docs or spreadsheets where all team members are able to contribute. It could be a master list of all your clients, an evolving style bible, or a spreadsheet of issues encountered that you could tackle at the next meeting.
In this way, not only are you fostering a collaborative environment but you are also assuring your team members that they are being heard.
- Be a good listener
This leads us to the fourth tip. Don’t just tell your remote workers what to do. Instead, you have to take a step back and listen to what they need. The best remote workers are the ones that can work independently, and when you listen to your team members, you can easily identify who would benefit the most from constant monitoring and who would be better off being left to work on their own.
Regardless of the level of management they would need, however, it would still be a good idea to introduce an employee net promoter score. This will allow you to have a pulse on what your employees are truly feeling and how you can address any concerns they might have.
- Allow for substantial break periods
When you’re working remotely, it’s sometimes difficult to differentiate the line between work and personal life. Employees tend to work overtime, get easily distracted, or would need to schedule personal errands during work hours. As their manager, you need to rethink the way you value their work. Reconsider your bodies-in-seat mentality and welcome the productivity hacks that each worker comes up with uniquely.
This way you ensure the jobs still get done, but your work-from-home employees are happy and satisfied with the new arrangement.
- Set expectations
But just because you’re being flexible in your way of thinking, doesn’t mean you have to forget about deadlines and expected output. Make these expectations clear and remind them often that regardless of how they do it, there are certain expectations that they need to meet.
For example, if you’re managing a team of content writers, set a number of words they have to meet in a day and find a sweet spot of time when it can get done in a timely manner and still have enough time to meet high-quality demands.
- Celebrate your wins
Finally, be sure to acknowledge the successes and wins that your team has achieved. These can be small victories like no late submissions for the week or month or something as big as launching a new product.
Make it a fun and engaging activity. Shoutouts are great, but how about considering doing a video presentation recognizing your team’s efforts? This makes the win more personal and their individual contributions are supported.
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