Hybrid and remote work is here to stay. Since the start of the pandemic, employees all over the world have had to learn how to stay productive while working from home. Managers found it especially difficult since so much of their work involves interacting directly with others. There were some challenges that were expected, such as not being able to directly supervise employees, and others that were a bit of a surprise, like “Zoom fatigue”. However, since then, there has been researching and plenty of experience from remote managers that we can learn. In this article, we go over the top 8 tips for running a remote team.
1. Make sure you are accessible
One of the most common complaints of remote workers is that they feel isolated without being able to easily walk over to talk to coworkers and managers. As a manager, it’s important for employees to feel like they can reach you when they need to discuss something. However, simply giving them your contact information is not enough.
Instead, as part of the onboarding process, share what method of communication to use for different situations. For example, chat messages are best for urgent quick questions, while emails are better for longer messages and detailed questions. You can also let them know when you will be available for chats and video calls, as well as how long it usually takes you to respond to emails.
2. Set clear expectations
Back in the office days, staff would come into work, and the time they spent in the office counted as work hours. When these employees moved to remote work, managers quickly realized that they will have to change what is considered to be “work”.
There are various solutions to this, such as time tracking or focusing on outcomes instead of worked hours. The most important thing is for employees to be aware of what is expected from them. Avoid being vague by saying to do something “quickly” and instead set specific deadlines. Make sure they are aware of how quickly they are expected to respond to messages and how often they need to attend meetings.
3. Check-in regularly
While group meetings are essential, don’t neglect one-on-one communication. Checking in on employees is especially important for remote managers. It may be tempting to do this with a simple chat message, however, successful managers tend to prefer video calls to make up for some of the face-to-face interaction that is usually missing in remote work.
4. If possible, meet in person
While Zoom meetings are very convenient, they still don’t quite feel the same as meeting people in person. Try to meet with team members in person, if possible of course. It can be for a formal work meeting or something more informal. Some companies choose to do this as part of the onboarding process so that the new employee feels supported and that they know who they are working with. If your workers live across the country or even in different countries, it could be possible to organize smaller local meetings where those who work near each other can meet in person.
5. Don’t micromanage
It is always important for there to be mutual trust between managers and team members, however, it’s especially important for those working remotely. A lack of trust and inability to supervise directly can make micromanaging seem tempting. However, this will only cause more issues, as employees will feel more stressed out if they feel like they are being closely watched. Instead, let your workers do their jobs and report back to you when they are finished. When employees have freedom and independence in their work, they will be more productive.
6. Provide employees with the resources they need
As a manager, it is always a part of your job to make sure employees are properly equipped to do their jobs. But the tools that remote workers need will be quite different from office workers. You can set a budget for employees to purchase high-quality webcams, microphones, and office chairs. Set them up for success!
This also goes for giving your remote team access to the documents and data they need from the company. Find a solution that both protects the company’s network security and also is easy for employees to access.
7. Encourage virtual socialization
There are countless ways to socialize online. From game nights to virtual happy hours, the best choices for your remote team depend on the demographics and preferences of your employees.
Many managers worry that these events will feel forced and unauthentic, but there are ways to make them work. Leave some time at the beginning or end of work meetings for small talk, and create optional groups for movie lovers or other hobbies that can be done together or discussed. Pets are also a great way to get people talking and remote workers have been bonding with them since the beginning of the pandemic. You can create a channel where employees can show off their pets and chat about them.
8. Be flexible
Successful managers have found that being flexible with remote workers has many benefits. After all, these employees may be working in all kinds of circumstances and most of them enjoy remote work specifically because of its flexibility. Realize that you don’t have to set strict work hours like you would for a normal office. Instead, give your remote team some freedom while focusing on results. Again, make sure expectations and guidelines are clear.
Each of the tips above may seem simple in theory, however, they require practice in order to become part of a habit. Make sure you are always aware of the state of your team members and be open to feedback. Putting in the required work to be a great remote manager will pay off and both your teams and superiors will appreciate your gained skills.