6 April 2020
Managing a remote team can be challenging. It might seem like people will be less productive if they're working away from the office, but often that's not the case. Instead, focus on clear expectations, realistic goals and, most importantly, let your people get on with their jobs. Here are six ways to support productivity even during the most testing times.
1. Set clear expectations
You need everyone on your team on the same page at the start of each day. The fastest way to do this is to schedule a morning catch up using conferencing technology that works well for everyone. Whichever you choose, make sure everyone knows:
2. Allow individuals to manage their own time
Avoid micromanaging, and avoid using technology to monitor your staff. Trust your team by backing the instincts you had when you hired them. If they’re responsible team members, good communicators and know what’s expected of them each day, then they’re going to get their jobs done – in their own way using their own time management skills.
3. Focus on goals, not activity
In challenging times, people are going to have responsibilities outside of work. It could be supervising kids who are home from school, or the need to check in on elderly relatives. Trust your team to get their jobs done – monitor their deadlines, but not their minute-by-minute activities.
4. Make the most of available technology
This is a big one. If you’re not used to having your team working remotely, you risk losing a lot of productivity if everyone is struggling with a whole suite of new tools.
Instead, for the most part stick with the tools you already use that you know work well for communications and online exchange of information.
Your top priorities should be providing secure access to the file storage and email systems everyone is familiar with.
If you find you're missing communication tools, pick a commonly available team conferencing tool that's easy to set up and use – video conferencing providers such as Zoom have made its software free for the time being. Other teams might prefer Slack for chat. Whatever you choose, use it consistently, and remember: sometimes a phone call is best.
5. Support your team with positive feedback
Your people are going to have different needs at different times. As a manager it rests with you to be the rock for your team, so make yourself available for one-on-one support when they need it. Motivate your team to do well by being open, communicating clearly and sharing positive feedback with the whole team when your workers hit their KPIs and meet goals.
6. It might not be 9-5 for now, but it shouldn't be 24/7
One of the biggest benefits of working from home is flexibility. If your team is getting everything done, don’t worry about the fact they’re not sitting in front of their screens for 'business-as-usual' work hours. Although your customer-facing staff will need to be available during standard hours – and you might consider adjusting those during a pandemic, for example – everyone else doesn't necessarily have to work 9-5.
Finally, don’t expect constant communication after hours, and definitely don’t expect people to be 'on' 24x7.