How To Manage A Remote Team

The full impact of Covid-19 on the workplace is unknown, but one thing is for sure: things have changed. Of course, no one knows what the workplace will look like after Coronavirus is a distant memory. Still, it seems highly likely that remote working will be a firmly established strategy for many organizations and individuals.

Covid-19 May Have Changed Work Permanently

What was previously perceived as office-based roles have now been successfully adapted to remote working. Consequently, organizations can benefit from the reduced need for office space and all the associated costs.

Are You Remote Working?

For the individual, there are many benefits. The dreaded commute can be consigned to the history books saving traveling time each day and travel costs. This scenario is representative of many employees throughout the UK. Working from home suits their lifestyles better and allows more freedom, exercise, and even work time.

However, there is another side to this. Many people would prefer to return to their workplace, keeping home and work life separate. For many people, interaction in the workplace is essential for motivation, communication and file sharing, developing plans, morale, and maintaining impact, informal relationships, and momentum. This is where you must learn how to maintain motivation and productivity when WFH (working from home).

Creating Your Own Workplace?

The benchmark for effective WFH is to encourage a similar discipline and structure with agreed set hours, clear communication, and freedom from distractions. There are many ideas for WFH.

Management

The need for management doesn’t change. However, it may need to be planned rather than on a need’s basis. If clear guidelines are set out, a manager can be a critical friend, mentor, guide, coach, sounding-board, or problem-solver.

Micro-Managing

This does not encourage high performance and can prevent work from being complete. For example, suppose employees need to justify their work continually; they do not direct their focus and energy to the task.

Collaborate

It’s vital to ensure that each team member can access relevant information at their fingertips, making collaboration as efficient as possible. These include document sharing. This saves supervisors and managers from answering the same questions from multiple employees.

Tasks And Goals

Specific work assignments allow for independence and self-direction. If you are a manager, provide clear priorities and routines. However, if you are an employee, ask for clarity on expected workload, levels of progress, deadlines, and standards.

Structure

Establish set hours and a regular meeting time each day or week when the staff check-in, either as a team or individually. This is how you maintain motivation and productivity when WFH. They will know that progress will be checked and any issues reported. If there is an agreed arrangement for expected hours of work, business hours, breaks, family time (childcare, school pick-ups, etc.), this becomes the routine.

However, consider empowering them to accept some responsibility and decide on the hours that best suit their circumstances. This way, there are clear boundaries between work and home life, as if there were in the office.

Smart Working From Home

Dress accordingly rather than lounging around in pajamas and make an effort to feel ready for work. Learn to separate work time from domestic time. When I work from home, I find the simple act of wearing shoes alters my state of work-readiness.

Have A Dedicated Workplace:

  1. Set up your laptop in a suitable location, such as a desk and chair rather than the sofa.
  2. Get organized with office supplies as if you were at work.
  3. Stick to a set routine for work time and break time.
  4. Try and mirror the office hours but remember to switch off at the end of the day and resist the urge to respond to emails during “your” time.

Plan Your Day

Set targets to be achieved by a specific time and resist the distractions, such as social media, playing with the cat, or watching daytime TV.

Go Public

Communicate your work hours and responsibilities to anyone who will be at home when you are working. I am not suggesting hanging up a “do not disturb” sign but set clear boundaries about your need for space to work.

Not Now

Allow staff to post a “not at my desk” notice so they can get on with work rather than deal with interruptions. The trick here is clarity and have a consensus on acceptable and expected standards of behavior. This could be in line with their previously stated “agreed hours.”

Social Activities

The lockdown resulted in many imaginative ways friends could stay in touch and socialize from a safe distance. Encourage this from a social perspective. This could also be used for team-building exercises or ice-breaking activities that have an element of development.

Use breakout rooms to reduce the group sizes and set a range of fun activities appropriate for the work culture. Try online pizza making, the weirdest coffee mug, two lies, and one truth, three things I enjoy or would change about work. Not all will entertain all staff but take note of what impacts and is engaging, then devise more of the same for a regular event. And remember, all these things aren’t abnormal. They’re just part of the new normal. Things change.