Due to the current pandemic in the world, thousands of people find themselves in a situation where they have to work from home. The leaders must address this.
A lot of managers, who normally share an office with their colleagues have to face the challenges of managing remote workers from one day to another. This can be terrifying to many, especially if they have never led remote teams before. Following best practices will help you overcome the initial difficulties.
Set clear expectations
Setting clear expectations for your team is an essential factor of success not only in a traditional office environment but with remote teams as well. Pay special attention to define the tasks, the deadlines, and the deliverables as clearly and straightforwardly as possible. Share the reasons behind and help your team understand how exactly you will measure success. In case of remote work, communication channels are often narrowed, giving more room for misunderstanding. Therefore, ask more questions and double-check if your messages are perfectly understood.
One of the pitfalls of working from home is that people can’t let go of work. Don’t spill oil on the fire by thinking that they are stuck at home, and have no other business to do anyway. Continuous overtime does not only lead to a deterioration of productivity and human relationships, but also to burnout. And that applies to you as manager as well! Managers of remote teams should, therefore, define clear boundaries and guidelines, which should include the definition of availability: when you and your colleagues will be working and how to be reached for different needs. This will not only set expectations for all team members, but it will help ambitious workers from becoming burnt out.
Keep close contact with people at the home office
Successful remote managers are in regular contact with their team members. Establish a regular daily or minimum weekly check-ins with your colleagues. They can be one-on-one calls if they work independently or team meetings if the team is working on something collaboratively. The important thing here is that the calls shall be regular and predictable. Thereby your colleagues will know that you are reachable, they can consult with you, and that their concerns and questions will be heard. On the other hand, you shall use these forums to share updates and news concerning your team first hand as well.
Trust the responsibility of your remote employees
One of the most common concerns of managers about home office work is that their team members will not work as hard or as efficiently as in the office. Consequently, they try to control every aspect of the team’s work, which is not only an impossible but also a highly inefficient activity. You should have a different approach to reviewing and measuring your team’s performance in remote work. Once the expectations are clear for the colleagues, trust your team and focus on the outcomes and not on the activity or hours worked.
Choose the right tool for remote work
As a manager, your responsibility is to keep your team connected. Luckily, today’s technological innovations offer countless opportunities for this. Emails, text messages and phone calls are essential ways of communication, but not sufficient in themselves. Your colleagues need to see you, and you need to see them. Therefore, using communication and team collaboration platforms like Zoom or Hangouts is strongly recommended. Many of them are available for free. For the sake of smooth cooperation, also define which means you use for what purposes. For example, you use videoconferencing for team meetings, emails for general issues and text messages for urgent matters.
Keep an eye on engagement
Even though you meet and see each other with your team regularly during your daily or weekly calls, it is much harder to recognize when a colleague is struggling with difficulties – be it a work-related issue or the challenges of home office work. People are probably more reluctant to approach you with problems on the phone, than in person. Gather regular feedback about the well-being, stress level, and engagement of your colleagues by the help of such quick and easy solutions like various pulse check tools (by us the most preferred is Happy at Work from our partners) or more complex communication and collaboration assessment tools like Team Sociomapping. Using such tools allows you to intervene immediately in case of a decline or negative trend of an individual.
There’s more to leading people at home
Many people experience great difficulties in actually following the myriad of rules about working from home and leading their teams. As an experience leadership development company we will be glad to help your people on this journey using our Leading Home Office Workers training programme, which is customised for remote delivery. Find out more here or directly reach us via form or call below.
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