With employees working remotely due to the COVID-19 outbreak, it has become a trying time for leaders to manage remote teams successfully. While 3.4% of the US population was already working from home, the current health crisis has coerced entire companies to adapt to remote work.
With these new policies in place as precautionary measures to limit and stop the spread of the coronavirus, managers are pushed to manage remote teams that are working out of the office, separated from each other for the first time. Although it’s preferable to have clear remote work policies established and training done in advance, in times of crisis or other rapidly changing circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this level of preparation may not be practical.
Although it’s preferable to have clear remote work policies established and training done in advance, in times of crisis or other rapidly changing circumstances such as the COVID-19 pandemic, this level of preparation may not be practical.
While entire companies were forced to manage remote teams within weeks, which was a challenge in and of itself, managers were persuaded to adapt their management style to fit the unique needs of remote teams.
So, how can managers lead remote teams without the ability to observe employees in action?
Set up a daily call with your remote teams or remote employees. This is one of the initial steps that must be set in place to successfully manage remote teams. It not only helps you communicate what needs to be done but also gives employees a chance to voice their needs.
This could either take the form of a series of one-on-one calls if your employees work more independently from each other or a team call if their work is more collaborative. These calls must be regular and set at a specific time so it’s predictable and expected by all.
You must also ensure that these calls are a sort of safe place for employees to voice their concerns and questions. This way, you can weigh in on their concerns and show them they’re being heard.
Nowadays, it’s insufficient to only communicate through emails – remote working benefits from having better technology for communication and collaboration. Unlike emails where you have to wait for messages to download from the server, using instant messaging platforms such as Slack, Office 365, and Google Suite can help you communicate in real-time.
It’s convenient and faster, allowing you to remain in constant contact with your employees in case any problems arise that require assistance. This will also help your teams collaborate and coordinate their work more efficiently allowing you to successfully manage remote teams without micromanaging.
These new tools also facilitate integration with other tools and platforms that support managers and employees to improve their communication and collaboration. This way, you can adapt your communication style to cater to the unique needs of your remote teams.
In the context of an abrupt shift to remote work, managers need to acknowledge the stress, anxieties, and concerns employees might have and empathize with their struggles.
It might even be beneficial to have an understanding of certain traits of employees that make them vulnerable to workplace stress and struggles. You can leverage this knowledge to better understand and support your employees.
Effective leaders both acknowledge the stress and anxiety that employees may be feeling in such difficult circumstances, but also communicate their confidence in their teams. With this support, employees are more likely to take up the challenge with a sense of purpose and focus.
Businesses face new challenges frequently and if leaders don’t possess the confidence to adapt accordingly, employees are highly unlikely to follow suit and be productive or engaging – at least without any compromise to performance and growth.
Check in on the progress of work assigned to your employees daily, utilize your understanding of their communication styles to communicate and collaborate more effectively, and acknowledge their struggles and instill confidence to effectively manage remote teams.
At Wired2Perform, we’re dedicated to helping businesses and teams who are challenged by the sudden shift in the work paradigm. Our platform for enterprises helps you access a more productive workforce from anywhere.