5 Top Tips for managing teams remotely

Working from home is becoming more and more mainstream, whether on an ad-hoc or longer-term basis, and perhaps now more than ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Putting a few simple measures in place will pay dividends on maintaining productivity and, just as importantly, on maintaining team morale. 

So here are our 5 Top Tips on how to effectively engage and manage your remote-working team.

1. Be available

  • When you're not in the office, your team don't have direct and visible access to you. Maintaining that access and engagement is therefore critical when you are all working remotely. 
  • Have daily catch-ups. Perhaps start with a team meeting first thing every morning to set the expectations and objectives for the day. At the end of the day, try and have an individual catch-up with each team member to see how their day has progressed, and to offer support with any particular challenges they are facing. 
  • Monitor your emails and voicemails and respond as quickly as possible to messages from team members if it is clear they are struggling with something. 

2. Create a communication strategy

  • Agree that you will catch up at certain times in the day - and stick to the routine. 
  • Respect personal boundaries - agree when people will start work, finish work, take their lunch break etc. and try not to call them outside of these boundaries, unless it's really urgent. 
  • Limit mass 'reply all' emails that clog up inboxes - think about who really needs to be included in the email. 
  • Understand the most effective communication methods for each of your team members and use them accordingly. 
  • Ensure that all team members have received, read, and understood important business communications.

3. Use technology

  • There are some fantastic online communication platforms we can now use such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Messenger etc. 
  • Find what works best for your business and your team, and make sure you give people the time and support to get used to new forms of communication technology - not everyone will find them second nature! 
  • Make sure everyone understands what to do if they are experiencing IT issues, and support them in ensuring that any technical issues are resolved as quickly as possible - we all know that feeling when you just want to throw your laptop out the window! 

4. Keep it personal

  • You can still be social in virtual team meetings - check in with each other, and find out what everyone's been up to outside of work. Be prepared to address any wellbeing or sensitive issues offline, on an immediate 1-1 follow-up call.
  • Ensure you check in individually with each team member to see how they are coping on a personal level, and on a regular basis. People will respond to remote working in very different ways. Some may feel very isolated and unsure, especially if it is the first time they have had to work in this way. 
  • Help your team learn new skills and new ways to approach their role. Training and coaching doesn't have to stop just because you are not in the office together. 
  • Make sure your team are taking adequate breaks and not logging on at all hours - this is absolutely critical to protect their mental wellbeing. 

5. Trust your team

  • Set out clear working-from-home guidelines for everyone to follow, covering matters such as working hours, agreed break times, managing and escalating urgent issues etc. 
  • Help your team set daily and/or weekly goals and allow them to discuss how they are managing these during the week. 
  • Remember to recognise hard work and the challenges that your team overcome, so they continue to feel trusted and valued.