Firstly, it is important for all managers to have clear well-structured communication strategy, especially at the current time. Keep communicating – even if you have very little to say. Your staff will be looking for reassurance, part of our job is to remain positive and try to keep a sense of perspective on what this means to us now and in the future – try to remove any negative discussion albeit don’t gloss over genuine concerns. For some staff you might need to do this more often than with others. Don’t just use email, keep it personal, use SMS, WhatsApp, make a call or organise a video chat.
We recommend that you share goals and expectations. It is good for your team to see the bigger picture and understand the role they play in it at present and most importantly in the future.
There are many Virtual Meeting tools around and we suggest you make use of these. Do not ask each and every person for a minute by minute breakdown of their day. Try to make sure these are interactive, try to capture the spirit of the office, and most importantly keep it positive, proactive and limit the time. Use leading questions to get engagement such as “Are there opportunities for us being created by this situation?” – you might be surprised with the input from your team who have lots of thinking time on their hands.
We love our “Daily Morning Shout Out”, our ten minute virtual meeting held at the same time every morning, where every team member briefly answers four questions:
“What did I achieve yesterday?”
“What will I do today?”
“What is stopping me achieving this?”
And most importantly… “How am I feeling?”
Overcoming an urge to micromanage can be hard for a manager at the best of times. You have to trust your employees – even if you can’t see what they are doing doesn’t mean they are not actually doing it.
Be clear in what you are expecting from them whilst they are forced to work from home. Set clear and well understood objectives and ideal outcomes and deadline and then most importantly let your staff do their jobs. It is your job as a manager to set the expectations, then it your staff’s choice about how best to accomplish their tasks.
It’s Home Working not 24/7
Do not expect your staff to be available 24/7. Avoid sending them emails, texts or messages outside of the standard office hours in doing so you communicate a message that you expect them to reply immediately – respect their private life. The likelihood is that your team will already spend far more productive time working than they manage in the office, there are simply less distractions.
Our Top Five Tips to help your staff and your management of them:
- Use the right technology – Often remote teams end up in shambles because there is no clear overview of tasks. Continually asking your staff to update you disrupts their tasks. Using project management apps (examples: Trello or Asana) that allow team members to see exactly where projects stand and what tasks need to be done can also be an invaluable tool for remote team management. Ensure you and your team have the right software and hardware to do their job.
- Get the right working environment – Avoid working from the sofa. Where possible create a workspace area for which you can shut the door on at the end of the day. Treat your working day like a ‘working day’, no Pyjamas; get ready for work like any ‘normal’ day.
- Celebrate the wins – no matter how small. Share with them all the progress the team are making in these challenging times, remind them that our competitors are in the same boat – celebrate every success and avoid dropping into survival mode.
- Put down that phone – Encourage your staff and yourself to have digital detox at the weekends; when you and your staff are rested and refreshed you are all more productive.
- Share A Smile – Remote working can bring its own challenges with isolation. It is important that as a manager you ensure that your staff maintain a sense of purpose in being a valuable part of the company. We have organised Virtual Happy Hour Drinks every Friday since lockdown with all our team; it brings a bit of banter and lots of laughs.
As a leader, managing a remote team might be an entirely new experience, but it need not be a painful one. Keep track of your staff and check they have the tools to do their jobs and then trust them to do it. You will have doubts, especially with the uncertainty at the moment – this is a sign you care that you a doing a good job and you care about your team. It shows you are mindful of the adjustments you are having to make to your own leadership style as well as to how you manage your team in the forthcoming weeks and months.
Being a leader is never easy but remember we are #InItTogether.