King Recruit explores 5 great strategies for leading remote teams during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond
Whilst some companies have been managing remote workers for years, the majority of business owners have been plunged into the depths of managing remote teams for the very first time – and whilst we are all facing new working norms that may apply for some time in the future, it’s undeniably challenging to keep staff motivation high during this time.
Collaborative software, videoconferencing and web-based tools such as Trello, are easing the burden by allowing us to communicate and work more effectively. But the downside, is that not everyone is more productive when they work remotely. Whether it’s a salesperson who feels demotivated by the vast reduction in sales opportunities, whether it’s someone who is struggling to balance ‘homeschooling’ with work time or perhaps even someone who is taking advantage of not being ‘seen’ – it’s a very challenging time for business leaders to manage their remote teams effectively.
The good news however, is that it’s certainly not impossible to effectively manage remote teams to greater productivity and success.
King Recruit explores five best practices for leading remote teams:
1. Set clear standards of communication.
Depending on the type of work you do, a daily or even a couple of daily meetings might be required to ensure team cohesiveness. One effective way to ensure communication is to record meetings so that anyone confused about what has transpired can go back and look at the record. Communication is the key to effectively leading remote and distributed teams. Setting up the standard for communication and requiring it to be followed will be critical.
2. Optimise the right kinds of communication tools.
Productivity pros will tell you that the best way to ensure a remote participant fully engages during a meeting is to talk to them via videoconference. Otherwise, employees will merely call in and then multitask or zone out while they’re on the call.
These days, offices have a wide variety of communication tools to choose from, including internal social networks, chatrooms and digital whiteboards, among others. Email is undoubtedly the most popular but some consider the least efficient mode of communication. Train your workers to use alternatives but require their videoconference when working in your distributed team.
3. Pay close attention to what is happening within teams.
If, like most offices, you break your work up into teams, make sure they have mastered highly effective communication within their respective teams. For example, if your project manager is not on top of things with the product development team, you will find that some members of the team are working on aspects of the project that make no sense with the overall strategy or, worse, that they are working on the same tasks in different ways. Any team lead of your distributed teams must be a highly effective communicator, accountable to you and your fellow executives and have a strong handle at all times of what every member within his/her team is working on at that time.
4. Holding people accountable.
As mentioned, the primary temptation with a remote work situation or for distributed teams is that people will take advantage and slack off. That’s why it’s crucial to lay down some goals and expectations for each employee and ensure that those expectations are being met. Try to toe the line though between micro-managing and merely communicating those desires and expectations. In some cases, a remote situation can be unworkable. If you think this is the case, before making a drastic change, check the data (e.g. VPN logs).
5. Distribute work according to strengths and motivation.
Hiring specifically to set up a remote team, you would be assessing people of good character, who are self-starters and certainly those that are comfortable with macro leadership.
However, with a crystal ball, no-one could have foreseen that we would all be predominantly working from home in 2020. Therefore, it’s highly likely that some of your team just aren’t designed to be a whizz at time management, self-motivation and high productivity levels without the impetus of an office environment. It’s important to recognise that, and try and work around the issue in terms of managing those individuals on more of a 1:1 basis. A strong administrator or support person for example, may thrive if you give them a different project or piece of work to complete with a set of guidelines and deadlines.
Working with distributed teams means doing things a bit differently. You have to put a little more effort into many aspects of work-life and communication.
The upside is huge, though. People who thrive in a remote environment will ultimately require less management and less of your time than workers who rely on the trappings of an office environment. In this arrangement, you are more partners than captives of a hierarchical top-down management system. For highly effective self-starters, the freedom to operate will prove more appealing than a free buffet lunch.
King Recruit is an independently minded recruitment and search agency, covering Exeter and the whole of the South West. For ambitious companies and professionals alike – the core of our mission is to help drive your success.
If you’d like to speak to King Recruit by video or telephone interview advice, please call us on 01392 790725 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a convenient time. There is no obligation. King Recruit is making a Covid-19 pledge to help anyone who needs advice, support and guidance.