If working remotely is new to you and your team it can feel daunting to begin with. Teething problems are normal but when you’re unable to regroup in the office to work on them because there’s a national emergency unfolding it makes things much more complicated.
The whole of the UK has had to adapt fast in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and this includes managers from almost all businesses having to transition to new ways of working and managing their teams remotely.
Not an easy task by to undertake at short notice with factors such as motivation, supervision, engagement levels, as well as accessing servers and databases all posing as challenges.
The needs of any team will vary depending on different personality types, experience in the role and the technology available but the key thing, particularly during these unprecedented circumstances, is to be positive and give your full effort in order to manage your team as best you can.
- Tailor your approach
Each member of your team will have different needs so it’s important to acknowledge this and tailor your management style to suit them. For example; some employees will find themselves at home with children so may need to have shorter, more regular calls to balance their demands. Others might panic at the thought of not having a manager physically present with them and will need more guidance and contact. Others might have a tendency to be lazy so you’ll have to enforce some rules to ensure they deliver what’s expected. If you’re an experienced manager who has worked with your team for a period of time, you’ll already have an idea of the different personalities. Your main priority now is to find ways to get the best from them remotely.
- Establish a routine
Try and stick to your regular routine as much as possible to give your team a sense of the familiar. If you normally have a communication meeting first thing in the morning, do this over video call or teleconferencing at the same time. Keep to the same lunch hour and have regular communication points throughout the day. Routine is more important than ever when working from home because there are lots of distractions however, research shows that in many sectors, employees work more efficiently from home so be positive and trust them!
- Use technology
Technology is a major lifeline for many businesses in this situation so make sure you utilise it. Whether it’s video calling, micro soft teams, group phone calls or other communication channels; explore your options and find what works best for you. The sudden response from the government advising people to work from home was also a wakeup call for senior leaders who had not invested in updating their software and technology and therefore couldn’t accommodate working from home so this is also an opportunity to evaluate the gaps in your business’ technology needs for the future.
- Hold your team to account
Depending on the nature of your business and the work carried out by your team, it can be hard to monitor their output when working remotely. In order to ensure your team are working productively make sure you are setting key tasks, in order of importance. There are lots of online project management tools which give everyone visibility on what needs to be done and what is the priority. These help to keep everyone focussed and accountable. These are also extremely rare circumstances in which teams need to pull together and be committed to their work more than ever. Having that conversation is also important and should put things into perspective.
- Be open minded
For tens of thousands of managers across the UK, managing a team remotely will be totally new so be open minded when it comes to trying new ways to engage and motivate them. Listen to their input, embrace technology and don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t always get it right. Some light-hearted ways to keep that sense of community include having a video tea break or a virtual Friday drink and quiz to reward everyone’s hard work at the end of the week!
Whilst most managers and businesses won’t have had the luxury of time when it came to setting their teams up for remote working, be sure to make the best of the situation. If it’s totally new to your business this is the perfect opportunity to trial it and perhaps offer home working as an incentive in the future.