In recent years, the world of work was slow to shift from having in-office policies to flexible work from home schedules.
Most employers want employees in the office to have easy, unencumbered face time with coworkers to have a free exchange of ideas.
What’s more, working remotely was reserved for employees with long commutes or that live in other states.
However, COVID-19 has forced a rapid move to remote work, with many managers finding themselves with a fully remote team for the first time. Managing a remote team can have its challenges, but it can be done.
Here are five tips for managing your newly remote teams.
No.1: Communicate More Than Usual
One of the biggest challenges with managing a remote team is maintaining clear communication and keeping everyone connected.
Meetings or check-ins should now be virtual. If you previously had a daily standup with the team or weekly one-on-ones with direct reports, those meetings should be continued over Zoom or Google Hangout, or whichever teleconferencing tool you choose.
Without in-person opportunities to communicate, now’s the time to increase communication so nothing falls through the cracks. This may be a mid-week team check-in meeting or a daily thread on your messaging platform.
The key is keeping multiple, frequent points of communication with everyone on your remote team.
No. 2: Keep Everyone on Track with the Right Tools
With everyone working from home, it’s easy to lose track of who’s doing what. Plus, the number of communication channels can become overwhelming.
As you’re managing remote teams, carefully look at what tools you need and how each one should be used.
Consider adopting a project management tool to manage deadlines and tasks, which you can walk through during a meeting.
Clearly articulating which tools to use for what purpose is the fastest way to help keep everyone on track.
No. 3: Set Clear Expectations
With the nearly overnight switch to remote work, many team members likely feel it’s anything but business as usual.
When managing remote teams, it’s essential to set clear expectations at both the team and individual level including working hours, response times, goals, progress updates, meetings and more.
No. 4: Prioritize Meeting by Video
While conference calls can be effective, many nuances such as facial expressions and body language are missed.
By using video for team meetings and one-on-ones, you’ll be able to replicate the feeling of being in-person.
To get the most out of your video meetings and make your team feel comfortable, take the time to articulate the structure for the meeting and what’s expected of participants.
No.5: Ensure It’s Not All Business
Every day in the office countless conversations happen that aren’t related to business but are crucial to your team’s culture.
As you manage teams remotely, ensure that not every point of communication or connection is business-related.
Create spaces and opportunities for non-work related interactions. This can be as simple as asking how everyone is doing to scheduling a virtual lunch date or happy hour with trivia or fun prompts to get the conversation flowing.
Managing Remote Teams Like a Pro
Learn more on how to manage your remote team with this free course from Udacity, in partnership with Upwork, the world’s leading professional freelance platform.
With Managing Remote Teams you’ll get practical advice on how to build a culture that embraces remote workers and delivers bottom-line results for your business.