Managing a remote team of workers for the first time can be challenging in the best of circumstances, much less now in what feels like a disorienting wave of bad news and emergency actions. It can feel uncomfortable to not be able to swing by someone’s office to talk to them face to face or have meetings where you can see expressions and body language.
Here are some tips and resources to help you manage your team remotely:
If you trust your staff to do their jobs in the office, then they are likely going to be fine working from home. Lots of first-time remote workers and managers are adjusting to a new situation but you don’t need to micromanage.
Set Clear Expectations
Be very clear and deliberate about productivity. What needs to get done right now? What might have to wait till your office is open again?
Make sure you have multiple channels of communication open. Regular staff check ins are a must. A group chat can be great for keeping up morale, but some workers find it distracting. Video calls are fantastic for some human connection. Ask your employees how they prefer to communicate with you.
Hold Employees Accountable
I keep a weekly task list diary for my manager. It is just the highlights so that he knows what I’ve been doing all week. I asked my direct reports to do the same. I originally assigned this as a task to the group in Outlook, only to discover that all of them used Outlook in a different way and none of them used the Task feature. So, I backed off that and just asked them to email me at the end of each week. This is not because I don’t trust them and it’s not because we aren’t in daily communication. It is simply a way to look back at a period of time and know what got done. I don’t know about you, but with events changing so fast, I can hardly remember what day it is, much less what I did last Wednesday. These lists will also come in handy come performance evaluation time. You’d be astounded how much detail we forget along the way.
Talk to Other Managers
Talk to your peers within your organization about how things are going. Find expert advice from the wider world to help you make the leap to working as a remote team. Lots of people were already doing this successfully. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.