After all the disruption and uncertainty of 2020, one thing is certain: remote work isn’t going away anytime soon.
According to a survey, 55% of CEOs plan to expand remote work options for at least one day per week. For some people, these changes could lead to major disruptions in their work habits and a general sense of detachment from the company.
On the other hand, 72% of office workers want to work from home at least two days a week. The good news is that 73% of these CEOs believe the transition to telecommuting has been smooth during COVID. Leaders need to employ the right remote management tactics to engage and interact with their employees as the “new normal” evolves.
If you’re managing a remote or hybrid team, consider the following seven strategies to optimize performance and help people adjust.
Set clear expectations
The first step in managing a remote team is to establish boundaries and work policies that your employees must adhere to when working from home.
Make it clear to your team what you require of them. These expectations can take the following forms:
- Company culture
- Work procedures
- Project specifications
- Stylistic manuals
- Rules for communication
- Relationship development
As well as setting initial guidelines, managers are also required to keep their employees informed of personnel changes and procedures, just as they would in a traditional office environment. While it is important to monitor how successfully team members are meeting expectations, keeping a close eye on their actions may make them feel micromanaged.
Another good strategy for managing remote teams is to align work activities with your employees’ work schedules. Keep in mind that team updates may differ depending on time zone and established work hours, so define communication expectations for team members.
Encourage effective communication
The success of hybrid teams depends on clearly defined norms and expectations, as well as effective communication. If you do not communicate properly, you risk spreading confusion throughout the team and stopping and postponing tasks.
Determine the right tools for your team and the optimal times to use them to ensure appropriate and clear communication. Allow the team to choose the tools they are most comfortable with.
Also, keep in mind that most communication is asynchronous. Important information should be shared in meetings, but there should also be a written communication channel where each team member can follow up and catch up on any missed parts of the conversation when they log in.
Equip all team members with the necessary tools
Employees are more likely to succeed when they have the right tools for the job. Take into account the unique needs and circumstances of each member.
This could mean providing remote employees with PCs, Wi-Fi access, webcams, and headsets. This way, you can ensure that they can complete their tasks and communicate with the rest of the team as needed.
Schedule regular check-ins
Daily meetings may seem excessive, but they are necessary to keep employees productive. When managing remote teams, they can also help with time management.
Schedule check-ins to relieve yourself of constant supervision, encourage your employees to reduce the number of unfinished tasks, and be more accountable. This work can be simplified by using scheduling software.
If you can’t have check-ins every day, schedule them according to your team’s needs, upcoming tasks, and working hours.
Send automatic notifications to each member via email on the days they are scheduled for check-ins.
Prioritize cyber security
Cyber-attacks have become a major concern for many organizations, as millions of people work remotely and many of them use insecure IT infrastructure. A proper security strategy must be in place to protect the sensitive information of your company and your employees.
Support this by ensuring that all members of your remote team are given clear instructions on how to communicate securely and are aware of the best practices to follow when sharing files. Increasing security by enabling multi-factor authentication across all enterprise platforms is a wise decision.
Finally, be sure to regularly review your organization’s existing security policies and modify them as necessary.
Encourage engagement with others
Social engagement is an effective way to manage a remote workforce, despite the distance between your employees.
Host online hangouts, virtual parties, and collaborative brainstorming video conferences to foster good interpersonal and professional relationships.
Giving your employees time to communicate and interact is an important component of managing remote teams. When team members can be there for each other and form the same real relationships that are possible in on-site work environments, collaboration becomes easy and fruitful.
Pay attention to employee mental health
According to the World Health Organization, poor productivity due to anxiety and depression costs the globe $1 trillion each year. However, it has been discovered that every dollar spent on mental health results in a $4 increase in health and productivity.
It’s important to remember the impact on morale of external factors that you may never have oversight on. Some of your employees may be going through a difficult life situation and are divided between dealing with their issues and keeping their jobs.
Help your field employees by offering wellness programs, mental health days to cut down on burnout, or other options that are feasible for your organization.
In these challenging times, the ability to effectively manage a remote team has undoubtedly become the most important skill that every team leader and manager must master. While it’s not something you can learn overnight, the strategies listed above will make it much easier for you to effectively manage your remote team while helping team members become more productive and collaborative.