The novel coronavirus or COVID-19 is currently sweeping 199 countries and territories across the globe. It’s also affecting businesses left and right. In this trying situation, organizations are adjusting accordingly, with some observing a remote set-up (working from home) to maintain their core business functions.
Switching to remote management means running a group of professionals working outside of an office— from different places and even time zones.
If you’re one of the many companies that switched to a remote set-up overnight because of the ongoing pandemic, you may see declines in productivity from high-performing employees initially. If you’re new to this and you aim to boost your (newly) remote workers’ productivity, below is an infographic that can help you address the challenges and shape a hard-working team. Let’s get started!
Set Up Your Team for Remote Working
Alignment and communication are crucial elements to keep your team connected and focused on your targets when you work remotely. To make this set-up effective for your company and team members, you need to have the right tools and implement processes that will make the transition to remote working seamless. Below are some steps you should take to cultivate a strong remote team:
- Create an email list for smooth communication – Set up an email list segmented into each department for quick sharing of relevant information and files for documentation. Consider creating a shared drive or folder where your team can search, access, and save files from any device. Meanwhile, chat rooms can be reserved for fast-moving discussions or collaboration.
- Identify the remote work tools for your teams – To help with work monitoring and optimization, several tools are available for time tracking and task management, communication and collaboration, video conferencing, and more. Make sure the team uses the specified work tools for clear processes.
- Determine the strict processes to follow – It’s important to lay down ground rules for the teams to follow to minimize confusion. You can implement guidelines like notifying everyone when they clock in (can be through your team channel), submitting daily reports before clocking out, and making clear steps about submitting reports. This should extend to your communication guidelines. For instance, emails must be addressed within 24 hours, chat messages must be responded to within an hour, and no one should be out or on break for more than two hours.
- Set a clear schedule – Working from home brings so much flexibility. However, it’s still a good practice to establish a working schedule, such as an expected clock-in time frame for everyone to follow. This way, you get to keep your teams on the same page regarding their task management. Likewise, set boundaries. Make sure that your employees aren’t working around the clock to mitigate stress. No work calls should be made between certain hours.
5 Strategies for Successful Remote Management
1. Trust employees and avoid micromanaging
One of the most effective tools for boosting team productivity is having the managers sit back and not get too involved in their teams’ tasks. Monitoring every little detail may only cause conflict and complications with one’s reports, and can crumple your employees’ passion and desire to work better.
You hired your remote workers for their skills, experience, and talent. You know that they are competent and passionate about their job. Excellent employee-employer relationships start with communication and trust, and remote working heavily relies on the latter.
2. Promote transparency
Remote managers must communicate with employees openly across all levels. They should lay out their honest expectations for task management, work performance, corporate policies, and other relevant subjects so that everyone will have a clear understanding of each other and of what’s happening.
For instance, you can facilitate transparent remote management by setting up clear project roles and responsibilities, discussing the specific goals with team members, tracking and explaining key metrics of the project, and overseeing problems.
3. Maintain a feedback-friendly culture
Positive company culture and a healthy work environment foster an environment where employees feel comfortable about receiving feedback from their managers. In the same vein, a competent manager must learn to give and receive feedback from their reports.
This management skill applies to any business relationship, but it’s magnified in a remote management setting since it can be a challenge to keep everyone on the same page. One way you can exercise this is by directly asking and giving it, which can be done through one-on-ones. This can help address frustrations that are unnoticeable in your day-to-day operations.
4. Do remote team engagement activities
When you work with remote teams, you don’t get to bond through lunch roundtable discussions, water cooler talks, or happy hours after work. To build the same relationship with a remote team, you need to stay connected and roll out activities that can help everyone get to know each other. Below are some ideas:
- Quizzes after work hours
- Happy Friday after-work drinks over a video chat
- Online games like Pictionary or charades for a quick break and distraction from your daily routines—which can also help build a strongly-connected team
- Photo contests, Esports competitions, or trivia nights that come with a little incentive every once in a while
- Maintain a separate chat group or channel for discussions around TV shows or movies, or for sharing pictures of your pets to uplift spirits and enlighten the mood
5. Meet in-person at least once every quarter
Communication is crucial to business success, especially when you have a scattered team. If possible, gather all the managers to meet at least once per quarter with all remote workers who can attend in-person. In-person meetings and interactions shape a healthy relationship. It also keeps employees from feeling undervalued and disconnected from the company.
Additionally, try to have a team-building exercise or any form of team bonding once a year. This should help keep their morale and energy high and allow them to get to know one another on a deeper level, which can help team members collaborate and work better together.
Work Together Even When You’re Not Together
It’s the company and managers’ responsibility to make sure that the remote team members feel connected, valued, and included. Establishing a safe and supportive working environment that promotes transparency, collaboration, and growth can encourage them to be more engaged. This kind of positive culture also helps boost work performance.
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