How handy was it to step out from your office cubicle and invite a coworker to a brief meeting? You can meet with any of your team members one-on-one during the day. Whenever someone on your team encountered a problem, they could easily come to you.
The COVID-19 pandemic, however, drastically transformed the office dynamic. Businesses had to switch to a remote working arrangement. Having people come to work wasn’t an option, and companies couldn’t halt work altogether. Employers had no choice but to require employees to work from home due to the threat posed by the virus.
Remote work continued operations, ensured deadlines were met, and allowed companies to survive one of the greatest economic downturns. However, team management was incredibly challenging.
Everyone was making an effort to adjust to the new normal. Everyone experienced hardships to a certain extent. But, the struggle for team managers seemed the worst. And it keeps going as most companies continue to function under a hybrid work arrangement.
Here are some remote team management dos and don’ts to streamline processes and effectively manage your team.
DO: Acknowledge your employee’s particular situation
Everyone in the office encounters (more or less) the same environment, with every employee experiencing different situations when working from home.
For instance, some workers might be at home with their small children. Others may be entirely single and live alone. Others may live in large groups with their immediate or extended family members.
Building respect and rapport between coworkers requires an understanding of their respective roles. You don’t influence what occurs in an employee’s home office. You can, however, at the absolute least, acknowledge and recognize their particular circumstance.
DON’T: Assume everyone’s on the same page
When everyone works in the same office, it’s simple to stop by someone’s desk and see how they’re doing. However, when working remotely, you must be more deliberate about checking in with each team member.
Establish a check-in method for the entire team to ensure everyone is consistently on the same page. Everyone should discuss their tasks with the team in this virtual check-in space to increase accountability and transparency.
Weekly one-on-one meetings are crucial to building deeper relationships with employees and improving remote team performance.
DO: Be specific about your expectations
When everyone on your team is working from home, clarity is essential.
Be as clear and specific as possible while giving directions or setting team goals. Ensure you outline clear expectations for deadlines, due dates, progress monitoring, and preferred communication channels.
It’ll be challenging to determine whether everyone is working as productively as they should be to advance the team’s goals if you aren’t keeping track of their progress under work-from-home arrangements.
Make sure your expectations are crystal clear. It enables you to monitor team performance and determine when employees advance in the direction of their objectives or the completion of a particular project.
DON’T: Take recognition for granted
Giving praise to your team while they’re remotely working can be difficult. And sending an instant message to your employee doesn’t hold the same weight as face-to-face interaction.
While the staff is working from home, don’t push appreciation and recognition to the bottom of your “to-do” list.
Continue to offer praise to staff when they accomplish a good job. Make sure you keep commemorating milestones and anniversaries at work to create a productive culture, albeit digitally.
In a remote work environment, recognition is even more important than ever. Appreciation inspires trust. And it’s more important than ever to form solid relationships based on respect and trust.
DO: Continue to establish a stable work-life balance and boundaries
Work-life balance is a crucial motivator of employee engagement.
A survey revealed that 91% of HR professionals attest that employees are more satisfied and engaged in flexible work arrangements.
While it may seem like working from home is ideal because it gives employees flexibility and a work-life balance, it’s a major catch-22. The structure appears to allow scheduling freedom, but it can pressure workers to stay “plugged in.” So, as an employer, you should continue promoting work-life balance.
DON’T: Forget about company social culture
Your team may be far from each other and working remotely. However, that doesn’t mean they can’t still make virtual connections.
Social opportunities and remote team building help boost morale and foster trust and connection. It can lead to increased engagement and productivity.
Some ideas for building a virtual social environment:
– Keep employees informed of work-related achievements with peer-to-peer discovery tools and social-driven apps.
– Give balanced feedback. Coach employees to help them measure their performance expectations. Let them hear your positive and constructive thoughts.
– If weather permits and the team is small enough, try hosting outdoor gatherings and social activities a few times a year.
Keeping employee motivation and engagement high while teams work from home can be challenging. Core values and initiatives can help build strong, connected working relationships. Work-life balance, transparency, praise, and recognition are key factors for engagement and boosting productivity in a remote or hybrid work setup.
Never assume that because employees work from home, managers can take their team member’s needs in the workplace for granted. Make the most of technological advancements such as apps and software that can help make your virtual workplace seem a reality.
More importantly, the remote work environment requires trust and respect to function and thrive. That foundation should come from the team manager, serving as an example by being more flexible, understanding, and considerate so others will follow.
Regina del Rosario is from Booth & Partners, a Seattle-based company with operations in the Philippines. With a solid background in conducting interviews with multiple candidates to identify the one with the most potential. Hired over 100 applicants for positions in dozens of industries and campaigns, at levels ranging from interns to upper-level management. Excellent communication abilities, including written and oral, professional and interpersonal. Highly organized and is able to complete several complicated administrative tasks simultaneously.