Remote work, an upcoming trend, has quickly turned into an obligatory part of the company structure over the past few weeks. Due to the current Coronavirus outbreak, managers suddenly find themselves leading entirely remote teams and employees find themselves without any direct supervision. Remote work, certainly though, has proven to be a factor of success for over 60% of companies worldwide so far.
For many companies, however, this is a new and also worrying situation. Especially companies without any experience in remote work are in a stressful situation, not least because of the lack of time for preparation. For all those, who are still struggling with the current shift from working together in an office to managing remote teams from home – here is a list of helpful tips to set up your teams for success.
1. Have a daily check-in
Thanks to modern technology keeping in touch is easier than ever. Calls, Emails and company chats like Slack only get you so far though – face-to-face interactions are an important part of a companies culture. It is important to show your team that you are present and it is also essential for you to see that everyone in your team stays motivated and focused. Again, thanks to technology, video calls are also relatively easy to set up – service providers like Zoom or even Google offer free platforms to connect you and your team when in-person meetings are not an option.
2. Communicate – A lot
Although this might be a no-brainer, we want to emphasize the importance of regular communication with your team. One of the biggest issues with remote work is a lack of communication and collaboration. This does not only concern individual tasks and feedback talks, but it also includes keeping everyone up to date on what other departments are working on and on the companies’ next steps as a whole. When employees are in an office together information flows naturally during for example lunch breaks or short talks in the kitchen. This might not sound important at first, but due to this everyone stays up to date on what everyone, including other departments, is doing. An additional issue currently, however this might have been intensified by the time pressure given the special circumstances, is the lack of technical equipment and tools needed to stay connected.
Employers are responsible for choosing and enforcing tools that are used throughout the entire company to make collaboration and communication as efficient and easy as possible.
3. Discuss expectations
Without direct supervision, many employees struggle to figure out what exactly their tasks are. As the team leader, and also their supervisor, it is your job to create and communicate realistic, yet challenging expectations. Set tasks together and use check-ins to clear up any misunderstandings. It is important to define the scope of the tasks, deadlines and what the results are supposed to look like.
From a long term perspective, it is also essential to figure out how to measure the success and progress of employees who work remotely.
4. Focus on the right things
This tip goes hand-in-hand with the previous one. There is no way that you as the team lead are able to manage everything your employees are doing when they are physically in a different location. Instead of focusing on every little task, activity or the actual hours worked. Instead, you should focus on the outcomes of each employee and your team all together.
5. Stay flexible
It is important to understand that in a situation like the current one, everyone has a lot going on. Not every employee wants or is suited to work from home, and if given the choice they would probably prefer to come to the office. Although this is not an excuse for not getting work done, it is your job as their supervisor, to look at each and every single team member and make sure to discuss next steps with them. 9 to 5 jobs might not be an option for some and others might prefer to work nights. Although this requires a lot of flexibility and trust on your part, if it helps your team to be more productive, it is worth giving it a shot.
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