6 Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Workers and Teams

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to get back out there, dress professionally (assuming my clothes still fit) and connect – in person – with all of you in the New Tech community.

With the number of coronavirus cases continuing to grow and no downward trend in sight, it appears many of us will be working from home far longer than initially imagined.

Since writing the article on “5 tips to ensure your remote work success” a few weeks ago, I’ve been thinking about what this time is like for those having to manage remote workers or teams for the first time. For those among us who have been resistant to letting employees work from home, this has been and will continue to be a period of adjustment. With that in mind, here are six tips for successfully managing remote workers and team.

  1. Use video for team communications: A survey conducted by Zoom and Forbes Insights last year of senior executives around the globe found that relying on video communications results in a better connected, more productive organization. When it comes to employee performance, 95% of survey respondents said video will have a positive impact and the same amount said video creates a greater sense of trust. Having your team participate in meetings by video will ensure they’re present and engaged in the meeting, not distracted or taking a call from bed in PJs.
  2. Maintain daily or weekly check-ins: Even with everyone working remotely, you want to continue with recurring daily or weekly individual and team check-in meetings. As just discussed, try to have these meetings over video so the team has a chance to bond and maintain social connections. Job search site Indeed notes that maintaining regular meetings – even when everyone’s working remotely – gives your employees “a chance to contribute their ideas and clear up miscommunications regarding project details and expectations.”
  3. Create opportunities for personal interactions: When we’re all working from home, we miss out on those opportunities to catch up with each other at the coffee machine or in the lunchroom. To help foster personal these interactions, Kevin Kruse, CEO of LEADx, suggested in a recent Forbes article dedicating “the first few minutes of your one-on-one meetings to ask about their weekend, or similar personal interest.” Other suggestions include setting up a dedicated Slack channel for team members to share things like photos of their kids or pets or to establish a book club.
  4. Set expectations early and clearly: According to a new Gallup report, about half of all employees – remote or otherwise – don’t know what’s expected of them at work. That’s terrifying enough if you see your employees every day. Now that we’re apart for weeks – or longer – you need to be clear in setting expectations with your team. As an example, Gallup suggests: “X is the work you should do, Y is the quality standard, Z is the deadline. Executives should provide higher-level expectations aligned with the company’s purpose: We’ll keep our customers engaged by doing X, we’ll maintain our standards by doing Y, we’ll fulfill our mission by doing Z.”
  5. Avoid micromanaging: While the same could be said if we’re working next to each other in an office, it’s even more true when working remotely. With communications platforms like Slack and Teams, we can easily see who is online and available. Sure, you can still message your team member every hour to check on the status of projects. But, as ZDNet editor-in-chief Larry Dignan recently explained, with everyone working at home “you have to trust your people, let them run and get their work done. Your job as a manager is to clear the way so they can complete their missions.” Focus on the deliverables, not the mundane details of each step to get there.
  6. Set boundaries: Your employees will likely find themselves working longer hours each day at home compared to the time spent in the office each day. Those extra few hours they spent commuting each day are probably spent working at home. Be a leader by helping set those boundaries for your team instead of taking advantage of them. As Thibaud Clement, co-founder and CEO of Loomly, recently shared in a Thrive Global article, define for your team those meetings that are mandatory (and those that are not) and what hours they are expected to be online, working and available to the team.

As Clement notes, “Google’s research found that setting boundaries and “clear norms” for remote reams avoid confusion and makes collaboration much easier. When employees have clarity of vision, culture, and expectations they can create great work within the set boundaries.” That’s exactly what managers should be doing for their teams, whether in a physical office or working remotely. The result should be a productive, engaged and successful remote workforce.

As we all adjust to this temporary “new normal,” what other steps is your company taking to help their remote employees succeed or what other tips would you offer? Hit us up in the comments below to share your insights!

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