The world has changed profoundly since COVID-19. No one saw a global pandemic coming but now isn’t the time to panic. Instead, companies need to evolve and adapt to survive. And one way to do that is to successfully manage your team remotely.
Since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, 88% of worldwide organizations have mandated or encouraged staff to work from home. Medical providers are conducting 50 to 175 times their usual number of virtual visits this year and in May, 95-99% of teachers were conducting classes online.
If your team has been forced to work remotely, this can be unsettling and disruptive to employees. You can combat the uncertainty by implementing long-term strategies that will add stability to your business and allow you to continue to grow as a team.
In this article, we’ll look at essential long-term strategies for you to manage your remote team, including how to prevent isolation among team members, and how to improve communications and productivity.
1. Check-in With Your Remote Workers Each Day
Some employees will take to remote work like ducks take to the water. Some, however, won’t, and it’s often the loss of structure and routines that can throw them off course. This can result in a drop in performance.
To ensure productivity and morale remains high, it’s a good idea to establish regular check-ins. These will help to maintain a sense of belonging among your team, while also creating a bit of structure and routine. Moreover, they’re also great platforms to field questions and making sure everything is on track.
You don’t have to implement a daily check-in if you don’t feel it’s necessary to effectively manage your team remotely. But it’s a good idea to at least establish a regular check-in routine, such as once a week.
2. Implement Communication Strategies
Now that your staff works from home, your team will need to utilize communication tools to ensure everyone can respond to requests, have conversations, provide updates, issue status comments, and more.
For example, you could use a tool like Slack that comes with several integrations and features, that foster teamwork. It’s a colorful, user-friendly tool that’s easy to get to grips with. For the times when your team needs a more reliable chat infrastructure, you could create your platform with a chat API or SDK.
To complement these tools, you’ll need fixed communication strategies, such as the following:
i. Flexible Work Schedules
If you’ve got team members that live in totally different time zones, consider a chat with them to work out a more flexible schedule. It will slow your business down if, for example, a team member requires a status update about an email marketing project, but they cannot get in contact with the person responsible because they have signed off work for the day.
ii. Provide Rules of Engagement
Make sure to lay down rules for engagement, too. For instance, you can use email for more urgent and formal communications, whilst project collaborations and ideas-sharing can be reserved for tools like Slack. You can also set up a virtual “water cooler” to share non-work-related and just-for-fun content. This will be useful for when your team just wants to relax and have a quick chat. It will also help reduce the feeling of distance between team members.
What matters is that all of your team members are in agreement with your communication methods so that projects aren’t slowed down.
3. Use Video Conferencing Tools
Video conferencing tools have become the “new normal” now that we can’t hold face-to-face meetings. These meetings are essential, as they give you and your team the chance to clarify issues, put across points of view, give updates, maintain contact, boost morale, field questions, and generally enhance connectivity.
Video conferencing tools include Zoom, Skype, and Google Hangouts. When you choose one, it’s a good idea to select one that lets you share your screen, and comes with features such as screen recording, chat, and the ability to share slideshows and other presentations.
4. Time Track Your Staff
Time tracking can be hugely beneficial to remote workers in that it can prevent unnecessary burnout. As the stats show, 82% of remote workers complain of feeling burnt out, which is detrimental to the overall success of your business.
Time tracking tools like Timely help your employees to maintain structure while they make themselves accountable for the work they’re doing. They also help you maintain a grip on your company, as employee monitoring boosts productivity and motivation.
When you pick a time tracking tool, you mustn’t choose one that invades your team’s privacy. What you need is a tool that shows them you trust them, but which needs to be used to help everyone maintain high levels of productivity.
5. Foster Remote Social Interaction
Lots of office-based workers love that their job allows them to see their colleagues daily. They get to catch-up, have a chat, and even go out for after-work drinks. When this is taken away from them, a feeling of social isolation can set in. And when that happens, productivity levels drop.
You must take care of your remote workers in more ways than one. This means you need to establish opportunities for basic social interactions. For example, you could have a team call each week which begins with everyone sharing stories about their weekend. Or, you could host interactive games/quizzes once a month.
Or, maybe you could host a virtual party at the end of each month. The key is to invite suggestions from your team as to how these remote social interactions will play out. Keep in mind that the last thing you want is for them to feel forced to participate.
6. Reinforce Your Company Culture
It’s a lot harder to reinforce your company culture when you’re not in the same office as your team. However, it’s still important that you find ways to do it because company culture is often seen as one of the foundations of success in any business.
You could create videos to inspire your team members whilst you remind them of your company values and mission. You can also use these videos to strengthen your company’s core concepts. You should also work hard to nurture virtual friendships, and you can do this via regular team meetings.
Essentially, you want to remind your team of your vision, create a sense of togetherness, and drive future projects.
Long term strategies for managing your team remotely will have a huge payoff in the coming years. It will empower you and your team, increase productivity and output, and ultimately improve sales.
Now’s the time you start to implement your strategies. Use the tips in this article to monitor, encourage, and get the best out of your teams, and don’t forget to work alongside tools that will further enhance overall performance.