In response to COVID-19, more and more businesses are temporarily closing their offices and moving their employees to working remotely. With the abrupt change of circumstances, abundance of new and unforeseen challenges and general feeling of uncertainty, it can become overwhelming.
Fortunately, managing a remote team doesn’t have to be as difficult as it seems. There is a wealth of resources at your disposal to make sure your business runs as smoothly as possible. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling key pieces of information that will help you effectively manage your team.
Assembling a Team (or Teams)
Working remotely changes how the entire business is going to be run for the foreseeable future.
Start by assembling a team- or teams, depending on the needs of your business -- that can strategize a plan for business operations. It's essential to clarify the best structure for your team and their needs.
Who should be on this team? Your company size will determine who should be on this specific team or 'task force'. Usually upper-level management and the human resource department will come up with new policies and procedures for new types of protocol and it will work down into specific departments within the organization.
Once your team is assembled, consider the following questions:
- What methods or tools will you use to keep everyone in contact?
- Is there a better time for the team, or teams, to meet every day or week?
- How frequently should we plan meetings to move projects forward?
- What important deadlines must be met, and how will you communicate those deadlines effectively?
- How will you allocate the possibly limited resources on-hand to whomever might need them?
These are all important topics to address and it's essential that your team is aware of the expectations while working remotely. Every business is going to have unique answers to this set of questions. Answers will vary based on specific needs, projects, industries, and so on. Successful managers have structured and predictable check ins set up for remote employees so that their concerns or challenges can be heard. Remember, people are your greatest asset within your organization. Having a dedicated team during this time will help you - and your team - feel confident moving forward.
Keeping in Touch Through Technology
As they say, communication is key. The world is incredibly connected using modern technology. There are many great tools and products that can help your team stay connected virtually. Scheduling meetings through video, audio and chat collaboration platforms such as Skype, Asana, Slack, GoToMeeting, Zoom, or Google Hangouts offer an easy way to gather everyone in the team, group, or possibly even company in the same place.
Try to choose communication options that have mobile applications available. This can make it even easier for those that have smartphones to communicate through one easily-accessible resource.
In addition, make sure there is a readily available directory of email addresses and phone numbers that is distributed company wide.
If it’s an option, have employees set up their office phones to forward any calls to their personal phone. This will ensure that no business-related calls slip through the cracks.
No doubt about it, these are challenging times we’re facing. Working from home can be a big adjustment for some employees especially on top of other concerns and uncertainties we are facing. People have different work styles. People need time to process the current situation.
Some employees will thrive on working alone, while others will feel that the social distance is hindering their motivation or productivity.
Offer virtual activities so that your employees can get their daily dose of human interaction. Have a FaceTime lunch meeting with an employee each day of the week. Offer a fun virtual game before or after a meeting. Run a virtual contest. There are still things you can do to promote your company culture.
Lastly, try to encourage discussion between employees about their workload and how they’re managing to tackle it from home. Letting everyone more openly discuss their strategies opens the floodgates for new ideas and more effective ways to tackle new challenges.