How to effectively manage a remote team

To minimise people’s risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, more and more employers are asking staff to work from home where possible.

How to effectively manage a remote team

“To minimise people’s risk of being exposed to the COVID-19 virus, more and more employers are asking staff to work from home where possible. This might be a daunting prospect to some, but I’ve worked from home for the past 12 years – and The Finance People staff do too – so we know how effective homeworking can be.

What’s important above all else is that employers trust their team members and their individual abilities. This is key to making home working productive for everyone. Set up work from home guidelines to ensure standards remain high and everyone stays motivated and on track. You employed these people because they’re good at what they do, so try to make a conscious effort not to micromanage them – it’s good for morale and will reduce stress and tension.

It’s also imperative to ensure that the right technology is in place for everybody to be able to do their jobs properly. Invest in reliable equipment and software if necessary, as you don’t want staff waiting hours for files to download, or having conference calls on crackly lines, for example. It might be a case of trial and error in the first few days to see which programmes and systems are the most effective, but remote-working technology has come on leaps and bounds within the last decade, so there’s plenty of options to streamline processes for people working away from their desks in the office.

Working from home is generally less structured and employees need to know what’s required of them, so be clear on expectations. Agree working hours and availability and encourage staff to set up a ‘permanent’ workspace in their homes, so they can separate work time from relaxed, home time. Do you want staff to work office hours or is a degree of flexibility built in at this time? If hours are more flexible, be clear who’s working when and make sure staff know if you need them to be contactable at certain times.

Discuss daily and weekly tasks, key projects and deadlines to ensure all work is undertaken and completed in time. This will also help to avoid burnout from staff members that simply end up doing too much. By setting daily and weekly maximums for working hours, you’ll be encouraging employees to take the necessary breaks and keep on top of their mental health and wellbeing too.

When everybody’s working from home, effective communication is absolutely key. Loneliness is one of the most common complaints from people that remote work, so you need to make sure you and the team are talking regularly, and not just about work. General chit chat is a must too. Agree an appropriate number of weekly or daily catch ups and any formal reporting that is to take place, but also allow room for more relaxed conversation. For people that live alone and are practicing social distancing, this might be the only chance they get to talk out loud with other people, so be mindful of this. Your staff are not robots and will likely miss social interaction at this strange time. Remember to keep the team up to date with how things are going from your end too.

That said, motivating staff at this time will be crucial, so make sure you keep to scheduled admin and housekeeping tasks, like employee reviews and one-to-ones. These can be done over video calls, for example, so you can ensure professional goals are still being met, and any issues are dealt with head on.

With the right technology and practices in place, there’s no reason that your employees won’t be just as productive as they usually are in the office – if not more so. Simply remember to engage with them on a daily basis, have effective structures in place, and above all, trust them! Staff will do their best work when they feel valued and believed in. It may be hard to relinquish some of the control you’re used to at the start, but in doing so you’ll be

Anita Tweats
Anita Tweats

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