Many managers have found themselves in a position where their entire team has suddenly shifted to telecommuting. What was once a trend has now become a necessity for most companies Working from home sounds like a dream to many, but it’s not as easy as it sounds!
To effectively lead a remote team, managers must learn to hold employees accountable while letting go of some control. Remote workers can be just as productive, if not more so, than in-office employees as long as they are set up for success!
The tips below will help you lead a successful team, regardless of where they work.
ENSURE PRODUCTIVITY, WHEREVER YOU WORK
Clearly define and manage expectations
Set expectations for company-wide standards such as work hours, response times, productivity reporting; etc. Define the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project. Clearly state the objectives as well as the reasons behind them, and how you will measure success. Be sure to document and analyze standards vs. productivity. Look for trends and adjust processes as necessary to address problem areas (for example, identifying the need to extend help desk hours).
Focus on Productivity, not Activity
It is impossible to manage every aspect of every day when you are leading a remote-team (this is an ineffective management tactic in a traditional office environment anyways). Instead of focusing on how many hours someone worked, measure success based on outcomes.
Use the right technology
Most remote work can be handled with a computer, phone and internet access. It’s your responsibility as the manager to make sure your team has the technology they need. Be sure to consider data safety and cyber security issues when evaluating hardware, software, and remote access to servers. Ensure your employees have enough bandwidth and a reliable internet and phone connection. Keep everyone engaged with communication tools such as video conferencing or instant messaging software.
Communicate often and regularly.
For remote teams, it takes more effort to recreate the casual workplace interactions that foster trust and teamwork. Also, remote work can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Encourage regular communication directly with, and between, team members. Implement a chat tool with the ability to set “away” messages. Have regularly scheduled phone and video calls, individually and as a team. Avoid communication bottlenecks with a centralized calendar so everyone each others’ availability. Keep your meetings on track with a clearly defined agenda, start the meeting with a roll call, and have everyone mute themselves when not speaking. Have everyone share weekly email updates with the whole team to stay updated on upcoming deadlines or issues. Have regular 1:1 calls with your employees and use this time to evaluate productivity, answer questions, set individualized goals and plan professional development.
BE FLEXIBLE AND UNDERSTANDING
It’s important to be patient as everyone adapts to this new way of working, especially given current circumstances. We all have a lot going on. Whether it’s a dog barking or kids in the background, be prepared for some interruptions. Regular work hours are probably not going to work for most people but remember to focus on the quality of work over quantity.
Learn from each other. Those who are new to remote work can benefit from the knowledge and experience of more seasoned telecommuters. Create a shared document where everyone can share tips and insights with each other. Advice can include things like how to maintain a healthy work-life balance, time management, and staying organized.
When given trust, flexibility and freedom to work on their own schedule, most managers see an increase in productivity and engagement from their team.