Leading a remote team doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for managers who were thrown into a remote work environment earlier this year for the first time. If you’re struggling to keep your employees focused and productive from home, you’re not alone! Work on improving the following factors to help you get back on the right track as a leader, while helping your team thrive at home.
Any work environment is toxic without trust. However, trust plays an even bigger role when you aren’t present in the same office space to physically see your staff working. The key in this pandemic is to make it clear to your team that you trust them to get their work done, and let them earn some additional flexibility. Understand that everyone has something going on in their personal lives, and everyone is coping with the pandemic in their own way. Allow your staff to run a midday errand when they need to, or offer flexible work hours if necessary. A trusted employee = a happy, loyal employee
Transparency and trust go hand in hand when leading a remote team. If your employees aren’t meetings their goals at home, think if those expectations were ever clearly communicated and laid out for them before taking action. It is very important to be clear about what your employees’ goals and deadlines are in order for them to succeed independently. If any changes need to be made, be transparent in communicating those changes and explain why the changes are being made.
If you had an open door policy in the office, try to maintain that virtually. Your team should feel comfortable asking you questions when needed, however, it’s okay to set some boundaries. Make it clear on your shared calendar when you’re available and when you’re not. It may seem overwhelming at times, but remember that they no longer have the ability to just pop into your office for a quick question. To avoid the constant questions throughout the day, schedule one-on-one check-ins more frequently than before. This way, the employee is more likely to wait to address their questions and concerns during this scheduled time.
Prioritize open team communication by utilizing effective and appropriate technology. Ask your team what tools they think are working and what tools aren’t, and adjust IT spending as needed. Frequent meetings are important for team synergy, but do your best to keep them as short as possible, and keep video calls to a minimum. Be mindful of what else you are expecting your employees to accomplish, and be mindful that everyone is experiencing a little bit of ‘Zoom burnout’ since this pandemic started.
And if anything, remember that everyone is going through this devastating pandemic, and each employee is dealing with their own stressful at-home situations on top of it. Good vibes are infectious (and my goodness, we could all use some). All eyes are on you so set the tone appropriately! Your remote team is immediately going to pick up your energy in a meeting or even a quick check-in, so try to be upbeat and positive whenever you can. It can be as simple as cracking a joke or breaking up a stressful day by asking what they plan to have for dinner.
If managing a remote team wasn’t in your job description at the beginning of 2020, it’s okay to still feel overwhelmed at times. Get you and your team back on a successful path by focusing on trust, transparency and positivity, while prioritizing open communication. Make the best of the situation, and continue to move forward!