In theory, working remotely sounds like a dream come true for most people. While there are plenty of benefits in practice, it’s not without drawbacks. We previously covered the struggles of keeping motivated while working from home, but what about the challenges from a managerial perspective? Managing a remote team without crossing the border into micromanaging isn’t easy to do. In this guide, we share five tips to make managing remotely as effective as possible.
1. Schedule Daily Team Check-ins
It’s widely understood that working from home involves less oversight than in the office. Not wanting to come across as overbearing, you may be tempted to take a more hands off approach when managing a remote team. However, avoiding potential micromanagement could come at the cost of misunderstood goals and a lack of direction.
Daily check-ins may seem like a lot at first glance, but it doesn’t need to be a big production. Ten minutes of virtual “face time” with your team is all it takes to reaffirm daily goals and ensure that everyone has a clear understanding of the tasks at hand. Rather than harping on deadlines and quotas, make the focus of the meeting more about what you can do for them to make their day as productive as possible.
2. Be Abundantly Clear About Tasks and Responsibilities
Despite its widespread popularity over the past year, working remotely is still a relatively new practice for most professionals. Without clear guidance, a job that was very clearly defined in the office space might suddenly feel rather nebulous and without direction. This is especially true for team members who joined after remote working practices were already put in place. To avoid miscommunications, err on the side of over explanation. The more everyone understands about their specific role and what is expected of them, the better they’ll be able to work independently.
3. Maintain a Virtual Open Door Policy
Under normal circumstances, your team may have no hesitations about dropping by your office throughout the day to ask questions. Remotely, however, the added step of sending an email or initiating a voice call may add enough of a sense of formality to give some pause. Avoid miscommunication and counter these issues before they arise by adopting a virtual open door policy.
Group chat apps like Slack or Microsoft Teams are a great way to encourage open and frequent communication with your team. Faster than email and much more casual in nature, these platforms are perfect for addressing questions and minor issues that may arise. Make it known that while you won’t always be able to reply immediately, they should never hesitate to contact you throughout the workday.
4. Paint the Bigger Picture
When isolated from other team members, it may be difficult for remote employees to understand how their work factors into the overall goal. Unable to see the bigger picture, their performance and job satisfaction could suffer as a result. Like an individual gear in a larger machine, its purpose may not be clear when viewed alone. Should it fail to function however, everything grinds to a halt.
As objectives change and responsibilities shift, take time to explain to your team how their individual contributions matter. By better understanding their role in relation to their fellow team members, accountability and team cohesion will increase.
5. Above All, Be Flexible
Contrary to the popular saying, when it comes to remote working, it’s the destination, not the journey that matters most. You may find that members of your team work outside the traditional office hours, take frequent breaks throughout the day, or work in varying locations. However, as long as their work is completed on time, it’s best to be flexible. A bit more freedom in how the job gets done is a widely accepted part of remote work. Of course, keep an eye out that their tasks are finished as expected, but assuming that’s the case, you’ll find that an environment of trust yields the best results.