5/7/2020 10:06:55 AM
How to manage your remote working team
One thing the coronavirus pandemic has done is force many of us to work remotely. Often - but not always - this means working from home, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) system such as Citrix or software we're already familiar with - MS Office, Adobe and many other web-based applications.
Keeping track of your remote workers suddenly no longer includes calling out to them, or popping to their desk. Fortunately, there are a whole host of software tools you can use in place of this, as our previous blog explained (LINK).
It's important to make wise use of these tools. You want to allow your workers to get on with their roles, while at the same time maintain the teamwork ethic where relevant. There's an added dimension, too. Remote workers can feel isolated, not just from work projects but from people interaction. How can you mitigate this in the way you manage your remote team?
Check-in with your team
Establish a routine check-in with your remote workers. How often you do this can be tricky. Too much and your colleagues might fear that they're not to be trusted. It's worth pointing out that some people can feel paranoid about working remotely, that somehow every thing they do might be under even greater scrutiny. It's worth bearing this in mind. On the other hand, too little communication and they may feel a lack of teamwork and concern over their efforts. Every workplace will be different.
Best advice? Ask your colleagues. Change the routine if it's not working. Start by replicating what you did in the workplace, but be aware that may not work for a remote set-up. Using a task-based app, such as Slack or Basecamp, can remove some need for meetings. Make use of them to keep track of projects.
Provide different communications options
This may not be necessary if you already have a VPN set-up. The system will come with communication tools, such as MS Teams and your normal email software. Otherwise, ask your colleagues what they'd prefer. Some people work better with chat, some with email, and some just want to pick up the phone. Factor in the isolation factor and phone- and video-calls can be more attractive to some workers.
Also remember that workers are using different internet networks. Some may be using fast internet at home, others may be sharing a sub-standard network in a cafe (though hopefully not during the lockdown!). If someone can't do a video call because of poor internet, allow voice-only instead.
Establish engagement guidelines
Following on from the point above, you do need to set some guidelines as to what methods of communication are preferred, and when. If you agree to run team meetings vis Skype, then use Skype. A chat-based environment might be preferred for questions and answers. You may decide to use email when a formal response and action is required (for example, fact-checking an attachment).
Understanding that remote working is not an exact science, make these guidelines rather than rules. So: "where possible, do this". Provide an Option B if the preferred option is not suitable.
This is often overlooked, and perhaps the coronavirus lockdown has made it more obvious, but consider providing an online space for social interaction. Isolated colleagues may want to share pics or video of what their life is like in their remote working environment. Create a space for this to happen. Usually you can set up separate groups or channels in your work-based collaboration apps, or use a dedicated tool such as Yammer or WhatsApp.
Offer encouragement and emotional support
Not everyone can or will take easily to working remotely. Some may have more challenging home environments than others (families, lack of space), while others will simply feel they function better in an office environment. Don't assume every member of your team will operate in the same way as if they were in their work space.
Include 1-2-1 meetings - if you don't already. Perhaps increase their frequency temporarily and use them to check on your colleagues on a more personal level. How are they finding it? Do they have everything they need? You can show that your organisation is still fully behind its workers, even when that organisation is no longer a visible presence in their lives.
Are you responsible for remote workers? How are you finding managing them during this time? We'd love to hear what's worked for you and your teams.
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