While many businesses are now working remotely for the first time due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there have been global businesses with remote workers for over 10 years.
Here’s a few tips that such businesses learned along the way.
The move to remote working can present a challenge for those who are accustomed to their office environment, but there’s no reason to worry. There are a number of advantages to remote working as well as a few things you can do to stay productive and connected.
The initial challenge for managers is how they’re going to adapt their processes to cater to their remote workforce.
Remote working requires a different style of management and you can’t really treat it as “business as usual”.
1. Communicate regularly
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” shouldn’t apply to managing remote teams. Checking in on your team regularly is necessary.
Try to set a schedule for your virtual meetings so they become a regular part of your process and not just something you do when you remember to. It can be as simple as short daily catch-ups just to get updates on what everyone is working on.
Also, make sure that you staff stay online as much as possible so team members can easily reach you when needed.
2. Prioritize video conferencing
Sending an email or message might be the quickest way to communicate with your team, but it isn’t always the most effective option. It’s much easier for your staff to clearly understand what you need when they can see and hear from you.
Emails are great for follow-ups, but when introducing new information, a video call should be your go-to option.
There are many great platforms available. Zoom and Google hangouts are well suited for group meetings, while Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are great for one-on-one video catch ups.
3. Set clear expectations
Don’t let your staff approach projects blindly. Of course this is good advice in any setting, but when working remotely it becomes more important than ever.
Assigning a task doesn’t end with a simple “do this,” or “do that.” For your remote team to accomplish tasks the way you want them to, you should clearly give them all the necessary information.
In addition, always give your staff a precise and realistic deadline. ‘as soon as possible’ or ‘whenever you can’ is really not the most effective deadline. Put simply, you can’t expect great results from vague instructions.
4. Get them involved
Make your remote staff feel that they truly belong to the wider organization.
Remote teams may sometimes feel that they are just extras and an insignificant part of the company. To avoid this, encourage them to contribute their ideas. Let them know that they do have a voice in your company, and make sure that you listen to them.
Involving remote workers in planning meetings and providing them with updates improves their morale and it can substantially boost their productivity.
5. Avoid micromanagement
Although regular communication is essential, watching everything they do can sometimes do more harm than good. Micromanaging your remote team is not advisable, as it may imply that you don’t trust them. The key is to focus on results, not on activities.
Allow them to manage their own time. By all means, step in if there is a problem, but just remember that you hired them because you believed that they had the capacity to perform their tasks well.
If you’re prone to micromanagement, try to take a step back and trust your staff to deliver.
6. Provide feedback
Have your staff done a great job? Or is there something that’s not quite right with their recent output?
Don’t keep your comments to yourself. Let your staff know what you think about their work.
Praising your staff for a job well done can motivate them to keep it up, while carefully explaining which parts of a project needs improvement gives them the guidance they need to do better next time.