The events of 2020 have unequivocally changed the way we approach work. Many companies have been forced to close their offices and places of businesses due to the pandemic. Those enterprises that are lucky enough to be able to shift to remote work have done so, rather than simply shutting their doors. So how to you manage a remote team?
This abrupt shift to the online work-space has created difficulties for both employers and employees. Managers used to daily briefings and a ‘hands-on’ approach suddenly need to adopt new management strategies and may find it difficult to direct and coordinate remote workers.
As a cloud solution provider we have experience of working effectively remotely. Your team can thrive under the right conditions, and an effective manager can help facilitate their team by following these guidelines.
When dealing with a team of remote workers, it’s imperative that managers de-emphasise the role of the leader and ask their team members to become more interdependent. This requires a high degree of trust, but a company culture where employees constantly need to check-in with their manager can lead to confusion and a loss of productivity. Employees that are not empowered lack initiative.
However, when employees are given collaborative tasks, they not only remain focused and in the ‘office headspace’, but their progress in achieving their tasks and goals is easier to monitor.
In this type of work culture, the manager facilitates through communication and coordination, as well as setting up the technological framework that will allow their teams to succeed. It is motivating for employees to have clearly defined goals that are shared among small groups which then have the latitude to decide how best to achieve this goal.
To technologically support this coordination, companies can implement collaboration apps and business software.
Feedback is vital for the remote office to thrive. Without feedback, workers can quickly become demotivated or aimless. Nobody wants to feel that their contributions go unnoticed, which can occur quite easily in a remote office.
An effective manager knows that positive feedback is essential in helping your team to be successful, and this goes doubly when a team is working from home.
Positive feedback will both ensure that employees remain engaged as well as build their trust for their colleagues and their managers.
One aspect of feedback that often goes unnoticed is how it relates to goals.
By setting goals and KPIs that focus more on the short-term, that are measurable and that include specific key results, employees will become more engaged in the feedback cycle, and will be better suited to monitor their own progress.
Don’t ignore the personal
There’s often a tendency to think of the office as purely transactional and business-oriented. However, this ignores the human element of work.
Workers form friendships and create valuable support networks which can make a team more cohesive and productive.
Moving to a remote work-space can impede these types of relationships and networks, and an effective manager of a remote team will find ways to mitigate this.
One such method is to have one-on-one video chats where at least some time is devoted to topics unrelated to work, such as hobbies, recent events, etc. It is important that workers understand that they are seen as an individual, as remote work can become very impersonal.
In the same vein, encouraging team members to spend some time video-conferencing with their colleagues can help to reinforce that everyone is seen as individually important and part of the team.
This concept can be brought further through dedicating a set amount of time to group socialising. In the current situation we have noticed the teams and groups are holding quizzes, etc. These are great ideas to keep your team engaged and remove the barriers of working remotely.
While working remotely can be burdensome for people, it does represent an opportunity for companies to expand their skill sets and gain valuable experience.
No one can say how thorough and long-lasting the changes to how we approach work in 2020 will be, but it would also be naïve to think that remote work will not become increasingly common in future.
With that in mind, those companies that can quickly adapt and implement the right tools will thrive.