Managing Teams Remotely
Remote Management Best Practice
The previous lockdown taught many businesses the importance of adapting to an entirely new way of working. Numbers of homeworkers jumped from 5% in 2019 to 50% in April and it doesn’t take a scientist from the SAGE team to predict that this figure is now significantly higher. The transition has been a huge learning curve for managers and their employees alike, and those that adopted the right tools and techniques early on were able to easily embrace homeworking as standard practice.
Talking to many of our customers, we have seen a pattern of management behaviour develop that has helped to maintain a happy, productive team. We have collated the following points in the hope that sharing what has been successful for them, could benefit your teams dealing with the challenges of remote working.
Communication is Key
Gone are the days of ‘Can I grab you for a second?’ and ‘While you’re here…’. Now, it’s all virtual. To replicate an ‘open door policy’, teams need to have regular meetings, in a variety of formats and across a number of platforms. Having available as many communication channels as possible, means you can get the information across in a way that best suits the individual or circumstance.
For example, while instant messaging may work to quickly get hold of a key piece of information, and daily emails might be the most suitable to convey updates, video calls are better for 1-2-1s or sensitive issues. They allow you to make better use of body language and facial expressions to make sure things don’t get lost in translation.
Socialising While Social Distancing
Loneliness is often listed as one of the biggest struggles faced by remote workers, and this is only made worse by the current social distancing measures in place. For a lot of us, we haven’t just given up seeing our colleagues, but seeing our friends. The social aspect of work is a key factor in building strong relationships and effective teamwork, and it shouldn’t be ignored simply because you’re not all together in the same place.
Informal catchups such as a weekly coffee club or virtual water cooler can help bring the team together. Informal 1-2-1s are equally as valuable – checking in on how someone is doing instead of just what they’re working on, helping to build rapport and trust between you and your employees. When you’re not seeing people in person, this can often be the only way to check in on the wellbeing of your team.
Staying on the Same Page while You’re Not in the Same Place
Setting clear goals for both the team and individuals is a simple, effective way of making sure everyone is on the same page. It helps to avoid siloed working, and keeps employees aware of what’s going on in the team, even when it’s not directly related to their work. Reiterating these goals, either through regular 1-2-1s or through weekly team meetings, means that even as circumstances change, your ‘one team approach’ can stay the same.
When we’re working remotely, it’s easy for us all to get caught up in our own heads and lose sight of the overall goal for the team. Some team members may feel overworked, some may feel underused. Clear goal setting, task allocation, and capacity mapping, can help each individual contribute effectively to the overall team.
Productivity is not One Size Fits All
As circumstances change, so does the way people work. Employees who might have been previously too timid to speak up in the workplace may come into their own when working virtually. On the flipside, highly efficient workers may now find themselves juggling work with homeschooling or flat sharing with five housemates all on zoom calls at the same time.
Get to know and understand the challenges your team members are facing. Give them the freedom and trust to balance their home and work commitments, and create a culture of support so no one person feels like they’re letting the side down. Flexible working doesn’t just mean flexible hours, it means a flexible attitude.
Employee development is an area which often gets overlooked, but it shouldn’t do. Not only does further training mean employees will be able to contribute more effectively to the team, but it is also a key contributor to employee retention, and keeping a team motivated and driven. 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if they invested in their career.
If your budget allows, this period can be an opportunity to enroll employees on remote courses. If that isn’t possible, there are countless in-work opportunities for development, including mentoring from other members of the team, internal training courses, or empowering your employees with the responsibility to run team projects. All of these demonstrate how much you value the members of your team, which is more important now than ever when you’re not seeing or engaging with them in person.
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