Whether your team is working remotely as a result of the working from home mandates that were previously established and maintained, or because it is the nature of their roles is to be out in the field, you need to make sure you have some good practices in place to ensure your team remains motivated and engaged during the course of the working week.
This guide is designed to establish some key principles of managing your team no matter where in the world they are.
1. Onboard properly
Remote working is somewhat of a new concept, meaning that not every recruit will have experience with such. Therefore, it’s important that you invest plenty of energy into the onboarding process so that employees are as comfortable with the processes as possible. Training can be even more difficult in a remote capacity, which makes the perfection of this all the more vital.
2. Have a daily check-in
Even if there are no major issues to discuss, start each day with an individual check in. These check ins don’t necessarily have to touch on work matters, but checking on people personally and emotionally, asking if there is anything bothering them, giving them praise and affirmations if appropriate.
Having a set time for each individual also helps them maintain structure and routine.
3. Set clear expectations for your team members
When the team isn’t operating in the office, it’s important that clear expectations are established. This is because in the absence of the office environment, team members may feel lost about what they’re working towards, as the parameters become more abstract. Consequently, every team member needs to be aware of what they need to contribute to the company’s overall goals. These clear expectations will enable your team to club together and achieve a common mission.
In order to achieve this, managers might use the aforementioned daily check in to establish the expectations of each team member. Setting out these clear expectations means that misunderstanding is avoided, which is important in an office scenario, but unequivocally vital for remote working.
4. Make sure they have robust communication equipment
There is nothing worse than having constant downtime due to faulty equipment and lack of practical resources. If your team is working remotely, make sure that they have good quality, robust equipment fitted with good quality bespoke battery packs from manufacturers such as YOK Energy which are not going to fail within a few weeks of use. Don’t skimp on this area – it could be the difference between retaining a good client, or indeed worker, and them leaving for something better.
5. Create a tech stack for remote working
When it comes to remote working, having the right technology in place is essential. After all, it’s the technology that you use that’s going to keep you in contact with your team. The likes of Office 365 and Google Workspace have various tools that help you connect each of your process, creating something that’s reflective of a virtual office. Keeping to one system will allow for greater simplicity when it comes to the function of your team, which will ultimately result in better outcomes all around.
6. Watch your written ‘verbals’
The speed of communication can often mask the intent behind a comment. Often texts can come across as a bit abrupt and harsh. If your team member is feeling a bit isolated, then they might read something into a message which doesn’t actually exist. ‘Pleases’ and ‘thank yous’ are great levellers.
When working in a remote environment, it’s not uncommon for employees to feel like they’re being left in the dark. Therefore, it’s important that managers do all they can to keep their employees in the loop. This includes messaging the group regularly throughout the day and having at least one group call a day, preferably in the morning to set out what everyone should be doing.
Additionally, it’s always worth bearing in mind that communication works two ways. This means that you must also listen to your employees as well as talking to them. They may even present you with a better way of doing something than you initially planned. After all, teamwork makes the dream work.
8. Respect the boundaries between work and home
It’s easy to expect that just because your employee is ‘on duty’ in their home environment that they can be contactable whenever you need them. This is actually a reason for you to be all the more disciplined about respecting the boundaries and giving them the space when they are not officially working.
From the outset be absolutely clear about what the rules are. During working hours, they should be expected to respond to communication and attend meetings. But not outside those hours.
9. Count quality not quantity
Clocking in and clocking out is increasingly an outmoded system of working. Make sure you establish outcomes. And be specific. Create milestones and establish a process in which every milestone is marked accordingly. Feedback should be based on the quality of the outcome.
10. Provide continuous feedback
If your employee is working in an isolated environment, then they don’t have the same opportunities to interact and bounce ideas around. Introducing a system of continuous feedback will maintain a proactive conversation about a project that keeps everything on track, flags up any diversions down wrong roads, and helps your remote team member to feel supported and engaged, which in turn helps them to maintain momentum in isolation.
The long-term benefits of a feedback system will help you to create a deeply embedded environment of trust, and addresses concerns in real time, as opposed to letting things fester unchecked.
11. Provide emotional support
Don’t be a therapist, or a counsellor – that is not your role. But be alert to the emotional resonance of your remote team. This is more difficult remotely as their emotional state may not be so obvious through a screen, but the more communication you have with them, the better. Make sure to ask them about themselves personally, get to know their family situations, and don’t be afraid to ask them outright if they are struggling.