The shift to remote work means finding new ways to collaborate and keep teams productive, communicating and feeling supported. What once worked in an office setting may not work as well on Zoom or Microsoft Teams, even though you’re seeing the other’s person’s face. Setting direction and checking in with team members may be more difficult than it was in person. In a recent post, we shared the story of a newly hired manager, and the unique challenges she faced while learning to lead a new team remotely.
With so many managers and team leaders facing the same struggle, we gathered advice and tips from remote managers on how to ensure your team is set up to succeed in the new normal.
Adjust to the New Normal
Leaders managing a team that is remote for the first time can address the challenges upfront with themselves and with their teams. Don't underestimate talking through this with the team, listen to what everyone thinks and engage in solutions/options. Balance team interactions with regular one-on-one time, set clear agendas, assign actions and ensure, as the leader, that you are hearing from everyone.
Andrew Dawson, Entasis Therapeutics and Forbes Human Resources Council Keep Communication Open
“WFH definitely changes things, and with people managing not just WFH but virtual school and lack of childcare facilities, it can be difficult to schedule team meetings that everyone can attend every day. So, getting two team meetings a week may be all that’s feasible, which is why collaboration boards like Trello tools for async comms like Slack are important. They help keep teams on the same page, everyone knows the status of projects and can help on their own time. Besides a collaboration board, it’s important to have an internal place where people can come to discuss matters. Boards are a place to keep track of project tasks, but messaging boards like Slack or Microsoft Teams can be really helpful to get questions answered quickly. This is where managers can come in, put up a note for team members and gather responses. It also provides a place for team members to put their heads together and bounce ideas off one another to create the best possible outcome.”
Pieter Vaniperen, Managing Partner at PWV Consultants
Manage in a New Way
“The new gospel for effective teams is talent management and efficient deadline setting. A really good remote manager needs to be able to get a good summation of employee talent from the more limited online meetings they have with their employees and set effective goals or deadlines for the individual ability. Without the possibility of very hands-on management, trusting and cultivating individual skills becomes the most important part of remote management. Stay reasonably connected via remote platforms but learn to take a role that has more to do with individual interactions than flashy meetings. Overall, a change in management style and realistic expectations goes a long way in cultivating great remote teams.”
Alexander M. Kehoe, Co-Founder & Operations Director Caveni Digital Solutions
Make Sure Everyone is Heard
“Making sure your company’s culture stays strong is not easy when you're remote. My company prides itself on giving everyone a voice, so when we have a weekly conference video meeting, we go around to every employee and give them a chance to ask any questions or give any feedback or suggestions. I'll also follow up with them directly with a Skype or a Video Chat if I feel that they are not feeling "heard'. Think this type of attention is crucial so all your employees feel valued and comfortable giving feedback.”
Lorie Anderson, founder of Mominformed
Social Isolation “With fewer options to engage socially, employees are turning to that one network that's still actively connected, their workplace. Because of this, we find ourselves more fatigued as work is our main focus while in isolation. With all the precautions everyone has taken for physical interactions, time-off requests for sickness have dramatically reduced, which is extremely positive, but we can clearly see the mental toll employees are subjecting themselves to. The leaders make sure to recognize that and allocate for adequate downtime. Workdays are much more flexible now. With commute time saved, employees are trying to use that time better. We're encouraging our employees to use that time to focus on family and loved ones, or some other interest they want to pursue. Some have gravitated to painting, cooking, gardening, and even yoga. Engaging folks in virtual games, trivia, and socials helps alleviate some of the stress and keep the workplace bonds alive.”
Rishi Kulkarni, Co-founder & CEO of Revv
Challenge of Onboarding
“The biggest challenge is onboarding new employees remotely. People who worked with us before we were mostly remote already have our culture ingrained in themselves, and it's far easier to translate it to remote. We're still working on optimizing our onboarding process so people feel involved immediately, mostly by increasing the amount of introductory meetings new staff have with various teams.”
Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism