Seven Tips for Leading and Managing Remote Teams

The COVID Pandemic has significantly changed the way we work. Particularly in Victoria, a large portion of the workforce worked remotely from home, for months on end.  Even now as we approach the “new normal” and are encouraged to return to the workplace, many employees now have permanent work from home (WFH) full-time or partial arrangements in place!  A recent Gartner poll showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time after COVID-19 versus 30% before the pandemic!

At the start of the pandemic when we started to work from home, many companies and managers approached this as a temporary arrangement, something to get through before returning to the office  Along the way it became clear that remote working was going to be here for longer than we thought, and now it looks like it’s here to stay! 

Successfully managing a remote team requires different approaches to managing a team in the same physical location as you.  The important aspects of maintaining engagement, collaboration and employee satisfaction need to be approached in a different way.  Below is a collection of tips and best practice to assist those leading and managing teams remotely:

  1. Create clear communication processes and guidelines. Choose the medium that works best for your team and create procedures around this. It might be that Microsoft Teams is used for internal communication and email is used for more formal external communication.  Set communication guidelines and parameters and ensure everyone is aware of these.  Don’t forget to educate new starters too!  
  2. Set Expectations.  Lacking face to face supervision can be a challenge for managers but it doesn’t have to be!   Convey your trust in your team members! Delegate responsibilities and set timeframes.  Set up a reporting system that allows you oversight of how your employee is going.  Have informal check ins with them to see if they need your help and lastly, hold your employees accountable to their commitments
  3. Set best practice processes for internal meetings. If it’s a Microsoft Teams or Zoom Meeting, ensure that employees are punctual, set expectations around dress, all cameras on etc.   It’s important to maintain and build team camaraderie.   Build personal time into your meetings.  Allow extra time at the start or end of meetings to talk about personal news and activities.   If the majority of you are in the office when there’s a team meeting, think about having a remote team member run the meeting.  It allows them to feel included. Alternatively if it’s a regular team meeting, take turns in having different team members run the meeting. 
  4. Maintain Connections.  Ensure you have regular check-ins with your employees.  Employee’s may feel socially isolated working from home. A quick chat to check in on them might make all the difference.   Pay attention to any cues they may give off.  In an in-person meeting, it’s much easier to pick up on body language, facial expressions and even conversation nuances.  You need to be more vigilant with remote meetings. Where possible have face to face video meetings rather than a phone call of texts/emails.  
  5. Don’t put off the difficult discussions!  Don’t let remote working be an excuse for avoiding difficult talks.  Putting off a difficult conversation may exacerbate an issue.  Dealing with it head on allows it to be dealt with and you can move on.
  6. Set boundaries around work hours.  For some employees the boundary between work and home may blur when working from home.  Encourage employees to stick to their start and finish times.   If you are getting emails/work from them well into the night, have a chat with them.  They are at risk of burnout or possibly are not working efficiently!
  7. Get the team together physically once in a while!   Everything doesn’t have to be remote.  Look for ways to bring your team together!  It might be a team lunch to welcome a new employee, or you might want to introduce a regular “Team Day” where you are all in the office together.  You’ll be surprised at the “lift” people may get from seeing people in person!  

Hybrid and Remote working arrangements have many benefits for employees and companies alike. Putting the above strategies in place will ensure you have an engaged, high performing team working remotely, just as if they were in the office with you. Please get in touch with an Accru advisor if you would like to know more

About the Author
Kate Cain
Kate is a flexible, team player, with a strong mix of communication, organisational, strategic and administration skills, which allow her to work across the diverse spectrums of Human Resources and Training.
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