Working at home is becoming the new normal, however, it is not a new concept. What actually began in the 80s, has advanced to a point where some businesses don’t have any offices at all and thrive on complete remote teams.
Thanks to technology, work at home has only grown in popularity. It has paved the way for the remote employee. There are certainly several advantages linked to remote work like hiring without geographic restraint, but there is always a wayside to it, in this case, it is managing a team.
Managing remote employees is a different ball game when compared to an office environment. In an office scenario, one is able to walk over to a colleague’s desk, gauge a response, and study their body language, which makes handling a remote team more challenging.
Broad struggles managers face with a remote team
One worry managers have, is employee efficiency, primarily because of a lack of face-to-face interaction. Everyone has a different way of working, employees also face concerns over whether the number of work hours they put in are being recognized.
As a team sitting together in an office, discussions help in information exchange which can be missing in a remote environment. Mutual exchange or mutual knowledge of information brings a sense of teamwork in play in an office.
Measuring the productivity of a remote worker can be challenging, how do managers of the team hold the members accountable for a consistent performance?
Working remotely makes people work in creative ways, this helps them figure out their strength and productivity. It creates a different structure to their day and makes them interact with each other in distinct ways. As a manager, you can set a process for leading daily tasks in a manner that fits in yours and your team’s work style. As you work into it, you will figure out what works and what doesn’t. However, there are a few essential steps that must be kept in mind that would generally be apparent in a physical office. Let’s look at how that can be replicated in a remote work environment.
Essential steps for managing a remote team
Establish ground rules:
Setting expectations from the get go can help employees understand parameters. This can also be done by setting clear work at home policies right at the beginning. When employees know what is expected of them, they will be able to follow a set way of working.
According to a report by Mckinsey, 97% of employees and executives believe lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project.
Whether you choose to do daily calls or even weekly status updates is up to you as a manager. This can also be dependent on how inter related your team worker’s responsibilities are. The idea is to regulate a uniformed work flow so that everyone is on the same page.
Having informal conversations every now and then helps reduce feelings of isolation for remote workers. It also helps form a virtual bond with your team. Remote managers can do this by having an informal interaction at the beginning of calls to discuss non-work topics.
A study by ClearCompany, only 5.9% of companies communicate goals daily.
Often in remote situations, the tone in a chat or an email cannot be sensed, doing one-on-one calls or team calls can eliminate any miscommunication. Video calls especially are useful for elaborate and complex discussions.
When there is less feedback, communication can be over-analyzed. By having a conversation, the tone of voice and the choice of words make a difference. Providing feedback regularly helps eliminate barriers and reinforce priorities.
Trust your team:
All things in remote require a little extra thought because of the nature of the work. Managers will have to take a risk in this matter. Leave the ball in your employees’ court for a change and see how that pans out. This is an opportunity to innovate and create a self-reliant team.
In a study on virtual teams by researchers at Stanford, working from home can improve performance by as much as 13%.
Managing a team’s performance can be streamlined with the right steps and can be effortless for both the manager and the employee. With the right tools and processes, the added strain of distractions and the virtual nature of it, keeping the fundamentals of work culture in mind can create a positive and healthy remote work culture.
About the Author:
Gurmeet Oberoi is a researcher and writer of change tactics and technologies in travel and other verticals, she frequently posts across the digital ecosystem. With 9-yrs of experience in communications and marketing, Gurmeet has a passion for travel and reading among other things. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org