We often see the question 'how to work remotely?' appropriate for all parties - managers, CEOs, and other team members, but we do not often see 'how do you manage a remote team?'
For many businesses, hybrid working is entirely new, yet we were all thrown into it with immediate effect last year and had no choice but to learn how to adapt to these new working methods. Across the entire team, our working day shifted from an office to the comforts of our home, and whatever our role was, we needed to learn to do this in our home environment.
How to manage a remote team
Communicating with other team members became more complex than just popping your head over to their desk and having a chat or discussion; it was limited to a screen and struggling with the odd Wi-Fi connection issue. However, there was extra pressure for managers, as they had to continue managing people, ensuring their happiness and well-being and constantly being kept in the loop to ensure projects ran smoothly and effectively. Maintaining contact with employees wasn't optional; it was essential.
Many of us haven't been back into the office since it's recently become a recommendation to work from home again. If you didn't quite master how to manage a remote team the first time around, we're here to help with a few hints and tips - making it easier for you and your team.
Managing a remote team tip 1 - A central communication platform
Investing in a business communication platform, such as Slack, provides a simple and easy way for everyone to stay connected throughout the day. From a manager's perspective, you're able to chat to colleagues 1:1 and set up team channels where you can have eyes and ears on a specific project.
This platform also opens up a getaway for your employees to contact you directly via phone, video or message and instantly discuss any matters they need to bring up with you.
Managing a remote team tip 2 - Host regular video meetings
It's much easier to lose motivation at home as you're not surrounded by people you work with, or aren't encouraged to stick to a routine the same as you would be in an office. By hosting regular video meetings, you're ensuring your team is in the loop with everything that's going on, and they're seeing one another and able to catch up about the projects at the moment.
Managing a remote team tip 3 - Be extra clear on outcomes
In these circumstances, it's better to over-communicate than not. Information can be easily missed or come across as ambiguous when you don't have the opportunity to discuss it face-to-face and open up an in-person question session afterwards.
Ensure you lay out some ground rules for anyone feeling as though they cant message/speak up from home with any further questions they have. It's easier to feel out of the loop when you're not physically next to the team, so ensure this is addressed and there are no judgements about asking more questions or seeking clarity.
Managing a remote team tip 4 - Understand new environments/challenges
Everyone's home office is not set up the same as an office. From time to time, there will be Wi-Fi issues; interruptions, family faces popping up on calls (pets included) and things going off in people's lives that they're now surrounded by every day. Sure, life continues when you're in an office, but you're not physically amongst this every day, so, of course, it's going to interrupt people more than it would if they were out of home and in the office.
It’s important to show an understanding of this because to put it simply, it can't be helped. It can happen to anyone and everyone, so it's integral that the team knows there's support in place, and they aren't going to get penalised when these interruptions happen.
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