The 2020s have altered the professional world as we once knew it, bringing about the era of remote work. Businesses of all sizes have been embracing working remotely, and while this has many advantages, there are also unique challenges that come with managing team members who are not in the office.
This blog explores the best practices for effectively managing remote employees, including communication strategies, company culture, and rules and expectations. With the right approach, your remote team can be just as successful as any in-person team, maybe even more!
Understand the challenges of remote work
Your first step as a manager is to become familiar with the main challenges, issues, and concerns that you and your employees might encounter when working remotely.
Your concerns might include a lack of face-to-face supervision and how to best communicate with your employees during the day. Or, your employees may struggle with knowing how to meet your organization’s expectations while dealing with the social isolation of not being able to build rapport with the team. Having an understanding of these challenges can help you create an effective strategy for managing your remote employees.
If these are the issues you and your employees are facing, keep reading to find out how to best address these common concerns.
Create your strategy
If one of your concerns is how to manage your employees without seeing them in person, set up a routine for daily communication to ensure you’re on the same page about any ongoing projects. Adjust your strategy depending on whether you have an individual direct report or if you work with a team. For a direct report, you can schedule a daily one-on-one meeting to discuss status updates and areas where they might need additional assistance. For your team, start your day with a quick group call where your team can share updates and help each other out, which also encourages teamwork.
Another way to improve collaboration efforts while improving communication within your team is to utilize the screen-sharing feature on calls. Sharing screens allows you to work on projects as if you were together in person, and the real-time nature of this feature makes it for a more dynamic way to collaborate, allowing for open dialogue and speeding up project delivery times.
It’s also important to find the balance between what needs to be a call and what can be resolved with a quick instant message to minimize disruptions and ensure your team is productive and focused. For example, a quick, easy question or request should be sent via instant message. But sometimes, larger, more detailed projects are best discussed via phone call. In these cases, a call can make sure that both parties are on the same page and details don’t get lost in miscommunications over text.
Foster a sense of community
One of the issues remote workers often have is a feeling of isolation, which can quickly make employees unmotivated, unproductive, and burnt out. As a manager, you can provide opportunities for your employees to interact socially and create the team bonds that would happen organically within the office.
An easy way to do this is to begin your daily check-in calls by taking a few minutes to talk about non-work topics, like weekend plans, TV or movies, pets, etc. Schedule monthly team lunches for your team to bond – without talking about work! You can even order the same type of food to make it more fun.
By getting everyone to participate, even virtual events can become strong team-building activities that boost employee morale. Employee appreciation celebrations, birthday treats, and even company-wide walk breaks are great places to start…
Create a set of rules
From the very beginning, set expectations about availability, priorities, work performance, and more. Expectations can include:
- Bi-weekly project updates
- Mandatory participation at all-staff meetings
- Updating Microsoft Team status when away, etc.
To ensure effective communication within the team, be open about your availability and the best times for ad hoc calls during the day. You can also use your daily check-ins to get on the same page about current priorities and the projects that they should be focusing on.
Most importantly, remember that you wouldn’t be looking over your employees’ shoulders while they’re in the office, so resist the urge to micromanage while they’re home. Trust that if your employees are meeting their deadlines, and communicating clearly and effectively, then your employees are being productive and doing their job well.
Communication, trust, and technology are the three key pillars that can make remote management successful. By setting clear expectations, using communication tools effectively, providing regular feedback and support, and creating a positive team culture, managers can ensure that their remote teams thrive. If you’re interested in learning more about the administrative process of working remotely, watch our webinar on leading remote teams and check out our other blog on how to create an HR strategy for your remote teams.