Managing Teams Remotely

Posted 11/05/2020 : By: Lauren Johns

You may have a mix of people working for your business i.e. those working from home, those currently on furlough and those continuing to attend the workplace while maintaining social distancing. Managing teams effectively in these times is so important and relying on old methods might not cut the mustard. With more employees seemingly returning from furlough and these measures likely to remain in place, its important to get things right now.

Just because we cannot see our physical teams, it does not mean they are out of sight and out of mind.

Communication 

Although we are several weeks into lockdown and there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel, are you communicating with your team effectively? It might be an opportune time to review your practices:

  • Ask your team for feedback and be open to listening to their response. What is working well for them? What could be improved?
  • Are your daily Zoom calls too regular or not regular enough? 
  • What style of communication works better for individuals? Would it be better to email, have a video call or would an old-fashioned phone call suit?
  • Are you and your team sharing developments during the day?
  • Are their hours working for them around caring commitments? Are there times of the day when they are not available? Be agile!
  • Do they need focussed work time, where you have time off answering the phones to work without any interruptions?
  • If you’re struggling to keep up with questions from your team, could they be shared on a team chat so other team members might be able to answer questions more quickly rather than everyone relying solely on the manager
  • Are you celebrating successes? Ask your team how they would like to do this?

Trust

Many managers were resistant to remote working prior to the lockdown. Hopefully, you will now be convinced they are able to do their work and are not just sat at home enjoying cups of tea. 

You need to trust these people and if you can’t, are they the right fit for your business? If you are still in need of reassurance:

  • Ask the team what they are working on, and for progress updates 
  • Don’t overreact if someone doesn’t reply to you instantly or isn’t at their desk when you have called them. There is likely to be a reasonable explanation. Focus on their output instead
  • Set your expectations and what you hope to achieve for the week and if it does not happen seek to understand what obstacles got in the way (If their output doesn’t match your expectations, seek to understand what obstacles got in the way and work with them to see how you can help resolve any issues)
  • What more do they need from their line manager? (Everyone is different, some employees are happy with ‘to get on with it’ while others may prefer more frequent interaction - ask your team members what they need from you as a manager.
  • You could go down the route of time tracking but is that sending the right message? It may be viewed as you are checking up on them despite your best efforts.

Wellbeing

It wouldn’t be a topical article if we didn’t mention the unprecedented time? and this pandemic has impacted everyone’s wellbeing and mental health, even those that haven’t experienced a period of poor mental health previously.

It is important to be realistic and acknowledge how severely the business has been affected by Coronavirus. Be open but at the same time even though your intentions are good, do not make promises you can’t keep. 

Check in with your team and genuinely ask people how they are and more importantly, listen to the answer. Even if they appear to be coping, ask them if they have any specific concerns or worries.

Be mindful that if others have been furloughed, they may be experiencing increased workload or covering multiple roles or working excessive hours. You need to maintain employee wellbeing and prevent burn-out.

On a lighter note, keep things ‘normal’. Encourage the normal office chat if it existed before. Those more extroverted team members will be missing the social interactions, while the more introverted will be enjoying the peace and quiet!

If you would like any more information on managing your team remotely or need to address any concerns you have with team members, please do get in touch. One of the team will be happy to help.

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