For many managers across the UK, managing their team remotely will be completely new and not without its challenges.
On top of adapting to new ways of working, keeping up to date with the usual workload and dealing with challenges posed by this increasing reliance on technology, managers still have to keep their teams engaged and productive to ensure that the business carries on.
Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that managers can implement that will ease the transition and get the best from their teams.
- Encourage Routine
Without face to face supervision it is impossible to guarantee that your employees will be as productive as usual and whilst you can’t force them to work in a certain way, encouraging them to stick to a routine from the start is sensible. Some employees will adapt more easily than others, much will depend on their personality type and their household circumstances for example if they have children at home. Given the abrupt switch to working from home, it might be more difficult than usual for the workforce to adapt but being a voice of encouragement and support will ensure staff know that they are not alone.
- Formalise Daily Check Ins
Communication is key to ensuring everyone is working effectively, any issues are caught early and to keep up morale. Setting up a daily video or voice call will act as a chance to catch up with the team collectively, assign tasks and discuss any challenges they are facing. From this, managers can determine which of their team may need additional support and mentoring. Daily catch ups are also a great way to maintain that team spirit, something which is more important than ever at what many will feel is a stressful and unsettling period of time.
- Set Expectations
Managers need to ensure employees understand what’s expected of them including their performance levels, targets, which method of communication to use for urgent matters and more. Documenting these policies early on and getting the buy in from everyone is far easier than trying to address it further down the line if performance is slipping. Managers should inform their teams of the best way to contact them and reassure them that they recognise there will be challenges but there are also lots of positives of working remotely.
- Allow Flexibility
Managers need to recognise that these are unusual circumstances and therefore a one size fits all approach won’t work when it comes to keeping employees engaged and productive. Depending on the nature of work, managers should allow employees a degree of flexibility when it comes to their schedule, particularly if members of the team are responsible for home schooling their children at this time. There should also be a degree of flexibility and personalisation around communication channels. Some team members may prefer video, others email or text. While there will be tighter rules around team catch ups, allowing employees to take the lead when it comes to one to one communication will give them a boost.
- Maintain social interaction
It’s much harder to promote team building remotely but that doesn’t mean it should be forgotten about. In fact, managers should be working harder now to ensure their teams are engaged and that there is a strong sense of community between everyone. There are many innovative uses of technology that are being used to bring teams closer together including virtual quizzes and tea breaks. Encouraging employees to pick up the phone and speak to their colleagues will help those people who might feel isolated.
For managers, being in regular contact with their team and reinforcing a sense of togetherness are the two most important factors when managing people remotely.
Employees will respond best to empathy and transparency during this uncertain time.
For more employee advice and support, check out our blogs.