Remote work is rapidly expanding—nearly a quarter of the American workforce now works from home, and the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted remote work globally. Many small firms and large corporations have to quickly adjust to managing remote teams for the first time.
For teams who are accustomed to interacting in open spaces, transitioning from the work office to the home office can be a substantial change. Not only are managers physically separated from their employees, but they must also figure out how to handle communications and timetables, and ensure that everyone stays on task.
More than 7 out of 10 companies struggle to adjust to remote work, according to a new analysis of the problems organisations today face with COVID.
We recognise that your company’s communication and team collaboration are suffering. Keeping track of many schedules and dealing with ongoing IT issues has spread most businesses thin.
That’s why we have put together this handy checklist to assist businesses to get back on track with the top five things any remote team leader needs. But first, let’s look at why having a healthy remote team is so important.
A remote team’s advantages go beyond attracting outstanding people.
As you might expect, becoming remote can greatly assist your organisation in attracting top talent and locating specialised workers outside of your location. However, if your staff works remotely (or is considering doing so in the future), you may be wondering if it’s worth it and what the advantages are.
As more teams choose to work remotely, new research is emerging that reveals some significant advantages for managers. According to a recent survey, remote teams say they are 30 percent more productive during the day than in-office teams.
So, do people really want this nonsense? Yes, it appears to be a resounding yes.
Remote work is also less expensive. A typical corporation saves over $11,000 per year for each team member that works remotely rather than in an office.
While all of this is fantastic, there are certain drawbacks to remote work, particularly for managers. Let’s take a look at what leaders can do to improve remote team management.
1. Work and communication ground rules
Working remotely does not give your staff carte blanche to make their own rules and set their own schedules. Your first duty should be to lay out some clear ground rules so that everyone in your team is on the same page.
Everything from the communication channels they should utilise to meetings and submitting work is on the table. Businesses must emphasise the importance of ground rules in remote situations.
Employers should focus on describing how teams can work together more effectively and the necessity of knowing the numerous behaviours that contribute to a healthy work environment.
Following that, it’s a good idea to create some basic ground rules. Simple things like requiring everyone to attend morning stand-ups, setting time limits (i.e. no meetings after 3 p.m.), and keeping communication in chat channels rather than email are examples.
Your team also needs to know that you’re invested in their work and care about how they’re doing. Creating a project timeline for your team is one thing, but maintaining in touch with them remotely is one of your most critical responsibilities.
You may have never met a team member in person, but that shouldn’t stop you from speaking to them as if they were a valued team member.
2. Check-ins on a daily basis to spark genuine dialogues
The word “remote” conjures up images of a remote location. In fact, the Academy of Management discovered that loneliness is one of the most difficult obstacles for remote teams to overcome.
It’s easy to see how the new increase in remote employment can lead to loneliness for individuals who are used to working in an office. That’s why it’s vital to recreate the everyday interactions that so many people are accustomed to by providing daily check-ins so that everyone is aware of what their colleagues are working on.
According to a management professor, remote managers should focus on ensuring that everyone is connected. These daily stand-ups and meetings, for the most part, cover topics other than work. Asking open-ended inquiries, such as “who did something interesting this weekend they want to share?”, is a great approach to start a conversation.
Even if you don’t have time to have a 2-hour talk with your staff every morning, you can still spice up your regular stand-up meetings to make them more interesting. Changing the energy of morning stand-ups is as simple as utilising new working methods.
- What did you do yesterday to make a difference in the world?
- How are you going to slay it today?
- How are you going to blast through any unfortunate hurdles that stand in your way?
Responding to these types of queries rather than simply “what are you working on,” can radically shift the nature of how your group communicates.
If you can’t do these stand-ups every day, make them regular enough that they become a regular part of your team’s routine. They’ll be able to tell when they’ll hear from everyone, get a status update, and feel a feeling of collaboration.
Pro-tip: RisePath PlanCentral is a great tool for running daily stand-ups. Chat keeps all conversations safe and secure, and it unites everyone into one channel to keep communication tidy and simplified.
3. The proper avenues of communication
Managing remote workers just through email isn’t going to be enough.
You must provide a robust communication toolkit to your staff in order to keep them productive and engaged. Yes, email should be included in that toolkit, but you should also include other tools such as video chat, messaging applications, and file sharing so that your team can keep in touch and communicate swiftly.
The following are some of the essential communication routes for managers:
- Project/work management tools: Organize schedules and deadlines using these project/work management applications.
- Chat tools: Collaboration and brainstorming can be done via chat tools.
- Video conferencing tools: Useful for meetings and virtual coffee catch-ups.
- File-sharing programmes: These programmes allow you to share documents and collaborate more easily.
- Collaboration tools for content: For keeping everything structured and accessible, from SOPs to healthcare policy.
4. Having clear, manageable expectations for everyone.
Creating realistic job expectations is still a challenge for managers, whether they are working remotely or not.
According to a recent poll, over half of all employees in the United States have no idea what is expected of them at work. At the heart of it all, employees must be given clear and precise instructions so that they know exactly what is expected of them.
Giving definite due dates, explicit quality standards, and detailed information on the overall goal might help you be more definitive with jobs. However, keep in mind that you can’t control every part of your remote team’s activities or how they spend their time.
You shouldn’t attempt, either—companies that go to extremities to track staff productivity, such as deploying home surveillance software, aren’t the way to go.
You can help your team stay on track and meet deadlines by establishing clear guidelines.
Setting project scopes and deliverables in a workspace that your complete team can view is a smart place to start. When you plot a team member’s to-do list into a project management calendar, you can see exactly what they need to be working on for the week and when they need to finish their chores.
When you use a project management platform like RisePath PlanCentral, you can even assign tasks to projects, such as meetings and product launches, by adding them to a calendar.
This keeps things in order without making shared calendars too complicated or burdensome.
5. Being aware of time zones and working hours
Finally, keep in mind that remote work opens up a larger talent pool, and your team members may not be located in the same city, country, or time zone as you.
Nobody enjoys being disturbed outside of office hours. It’s very vital for remote managers to keep track of time zones. If you don’t, and you message a team member at 10 p.m., you risk disrupting their work/life balance and making them feel unable to detach from work.
Adding an extension, software, or plug-in to your computer is one approach to remedy this problem.
Checking everyone’s time zone before booking a group gathering or virtual coffee catch-up is another technique to avoid this. If you’re based in the United States but some of your team members are based in Australia, you’ll need to find a time that works for everyone.
Of course, for certain teams, remembering each team member’s time zone is impossible. As a result, make sure your project management application provides language and localization options.
All you have to do is jump in and see what’s the greatest fit for everyone on a project before setting any deadlines or meetings. Time zones may be a pain or a goldmine for productivity, depending on how you manage them.
With the correct toolkit, managing remote teams is a breeze.
Shifting to a remote workplace is a difficult endeavour, but if done correctly, it may be a game-changer for your company. Going remote can save you a lot of money, but it can also make your staff happier and more productive, as some of them will be working while the other half is asleep, thanks to time zones.
However, successfully managing remote teams involves a learning curve. You must develop communication channels, ensure that your team feels valued, and set clear project and timeline expectations.
Managers who have the correct toolkit will find this much easier. Emails aren’t enough; you need a central location to keep track of communication, file sharing, team conversations, and projects.
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