8 Tips for Managing Your Team Remotely and Staying Productive
Many of us are working from home, but how do you manage your team remotely to keep thing productive and efficient?
When you previously ran your business from an office and have now made the move to everyone working remotely, it’s a big shift. It takes time for everyone on the team to get used to the new arrangements and there are plenty of changes to implement to make everything run smoothly too.
Staying productive is more difficult now. Not only is the disruption to the normal office routines problematic, but the distractions when working from home are many.
In this article, we provide eight tips for better managing a remote team and how to keep everyone (including yourself) productive at home.
Communicate More Frequently, Not Less
Without the ability for in-person meetings and the day-to-day contact with their peers, everyone in the organization will feel a sense of disconnect from what’s happening at the company.
It is up to you as the owner/manager to communicate more than usual, so the team stays informed. At a time when there’s greater uncertainty, there’s the need to be encouraging and informative more than before to provide balance.
Use video chats on Zoom, Slack, or Skype, private one-on-one conversations, and other forms of communication to stay in touch. Don’t just stick to text chat as emotions can get lost. In a video chat, it’s easier to visually tell when someone is struggling and needs some support.
Expect Staff to Suffer from Occasional Cabin Fever
For anyone living in a state where there’s a complete lockdown, then they’re likely not used to staying indoors all the time and may get cabin fever.
Build some flexibility into work schedules to cover for employees who occasionally need extra time to unwind and work things out away from their laptops. While keeping to strict working hours may seem like the right idea, for these people they’re better off catching back up (when they’re able) at the times that suit them more.
Be Flexible with Work Schedules
Many people choose to work from home so they can care for kids and dependent relatives. Working from home gives them more freedom and makes it easier to be a caregiver when regular arrangements fall apart.
Be aware that some of your remote workers will have family responsibilities. As such, it’s helpful to allow some flexibility in their working hours. For example, if they have kids, let them work hours that better suit their family responsibilities. The more flexible you are, the easier it will be for workers to remain productive.
Encourage Everyone to Get Enough Rest
Taking regular breaks and having a weekend off is important wherever people are working. They cannot be productive if they’re worn out mentally and/or physically. While working remotely, avoid the tendency for people to feel like they can never get away from work.
Monitor how much holiday your workers are taking. Many people don’t take all of their allotted holiday time, often because of a misguided belief that it will reflect badly on them. This is bad for productivity and morale. Ensure workers take their holiday when it’s due. Time away from work means they’ll be more productive when they return to their desk.
To be an effective manager, you too need to rest and to sleep well. If your bed is letting you down and interfering with proper sleep, then look at getting a replacement. There are some good options for any budget to quickly solve this problem. Beds come in a box now and can be dispatched to your home address.
Use Cloud Task Managers for Shared Projects
To stay organized and focused on the projects that the company is working on, switch to a shared task management tool.
This might be a task list app where the responsibility for tasks can be assigned to one or more people on the team. Alternatively, it might be an app with more collaborative features like Asana or Trello. These are cross-platform, cloud-based, and can scale-up for small or large teams.
You may find that simple tools like Google Docs are useful for smaller teams, but if you are managing larger projects, upgrade to cloud-based project management tools such as Kanban.
Make Password Management Easier
Logging into and out of different web apps and systems is a pain when you’re working from home.
Make employees’ life easier by providing a password manager that remembers all their most important passwords for them as then only a master password is required.
Apps like LastPass and Dashlane are well-liked. You can set up an account for each remote worker with all the necessary saved passwords ready to use. This avoids employees repeatedly getting frustrated and losing time trying to log in and failing to do so.
Manage Time Differences Carefully
When you have remote staff who are in different parts of the U.S. or located in other regions of the world, there will be significant time zone differences to wrestle with.
Consider carefully who should be attending a group staff meeting on a video chat. Expecting staff to take a meeting at 5 am local time or in the evening will wear them down quickly. Perhaps run two staff meetings at different times or upload a secure video recording for people in other time zones to watch later.
Be Clearer About Expectations
Given the inherent difficulties in maintaining good communications with all people on the remote team, it’s important to be clearer about what’s expected of them.
When working in an office, there are regular meetings, quick chats, body language, and other cues to tell them when something isn’t right. This is lacking as a remote worker.
It’s necessary to be clearer about what is expected so that follow-ups are done earlier to clarify any points which are confusing or unclear. Doing this may seem over the top to a manager, but it avoids inevitable false starts and wasted time working on something that wasn’t required or needed to be done differently.
Managing a remote team well and maintaining high productivity requires more effort at first. But rest assured, good productive rates are achievable when approached in the right manner.