From my recent leadership coaching sessions, remote work and managing a remote team were some of the most popular topics being raised by my clients. The current health and economic crisis the world is facing has significantly changed the way we do office work. Hence, I decided to write a blog about it.
Even before the spread of COVID-19, the remote work set up has already become a trend and was gaining popularity. The global pandemic just sped up its adaption 100 times faster as it has become a necessity more than a trend. It has become a means of survival for businesses in this day and age. Some of the bigger corporations in the world have stated that they are allowing remote work setup until 2021. Most other organizations have at least 50% of their workforce working from home. Though most of these companies were not designed for a remote work set-up, they were forced out of necessity to adapt.
While there are many advantages of remote work set-up for both the employer and employees, there are also pitfalls that both parties need to address for it to truly deliver on productivity and output. There will be a lot of distractions that can come from working remotely. Here are some tips on how to better manage remote teams and get the most out of the situation.
Be very communicative.
Since teammates are not physically present, there is a high probability that miscommunication occurs. The manager may say one thing, but the employee picks up a different message. In an office setting where one can just walk over to a teammate and show a document for collaboration, that will not be the case for remote workers. The communication channels will be different – chat, email, video call, etc. – so you will need to tweak the way you communicate and ensure 100% alignment on the message. Always be intentional with what you are trying to convey. This will eliminate gray areas. It will not hurt if there is a regular check for understanding to ensure calibration.
Set-up daily huddles.
This is especially true if you are a supervisor or a manager of remote team members. Some things to make daily huddles effective and set the tone for the day include providing updates, setting clear expectations, and assigning clear instructions to team members. This will give everyone an opportunity to ask questions if there is ambiguity. It will also help align everyone’s understanding of the update and what needs to get done for the day.
Take advantage of video conferencing.
The closest substitute for a face-to-face conversation is video conferencing. It gives team members the ability to have a visual of the person or people on the line, which is a lot better than traditional phone calls. The best thing about it is that there are a bunch of free apps and they work on almost all devices. Video conferencing tools nowadays have screen sharing features that are like presenting in front of an audience in a physical room.
Use online collaboration tools.
One of the ways to keep people truly engaged in a project is to use communication and project management tools that will help them work together virtually. Some of these tools are free. Some are meant for real-time collaboration, while others take advantage of having a shared document or file on the cloud which every team member can edit along with their inputs or ideas.
Establish regular checkpoints.
This is one of the most common pitfalls in business – waiting until the deadline to check on a project only to find out that there were a lot of mistakes that could have been prevented. It is normal for different people to put their personal touch or flavor on a task assigned to them. If left unchecked, the output can go in different directions. These checkpoints are meant to constantly align the understanding of team members on what needs to get accomplished within their domain. This will eliminate surprises at the end of the project.
Sign up for leadership coaching.
This is an invaluable tool that all organizations should invest in. As the team goes through pressure-packed situations, the true mettle of the team will show. This is why leadership coaching is a great investment to better prepare the team on how to go about their work especially in tough situations. People will feel empowered and important if they see the company helping them to grow personally and professionally. Bigger organizations may choose to have in-house leadership development teams while small and medium businesses may take advantage of professional leadership coaches to help elevate the overall performance of the team.
The recent global events continue to challenge the status quo of how we do business. While some businesses will go back to “normal”, most businesses will have to adopt remote working solutions as we pivot to the “new normal”, post the pandemic. Utilizing these tips will make your organization better prepared to take advantage of a remote working environment wherever your team members are located.