Managing people is not easy even when you’re in the office, so now everyone is working from home, looking after your team can be a real challenge.
In order to succeed and make sure your team’s wellbeing is cared for – while also maintaining productivity – you might need to make some changes to your management style.
Here are six best practice tips for managing your team remotely.
1. Account for personality
Some individuals need constant access to their boss to feel secure and satisfied. This is a concern which, as a remote manager, is more difficult to alleviate. Try to encourage these members of staff to be more self-motivated and independent. They just need to know that support is there for them when they need it and encourage more two-way communication.
There are also individuals who will be more likely to struggle when managing their time effectively, potentially abusing the freedom of having a remote manager. If this is the case, follow up with the individual, see why they may be struggling to manage their time and arrange a plan or check-in schedule to help them adapt to working from home for an extended period.
2. Use the right tools to communicate
Communication is paramount and having the right tools is important to ensure that everyone can stay in touch easily and get the information they need. That means using tools such as Skype, Microsoft Teams and any video messaging apps to help with more open and face-to-face communications.
Remember to make sure everyone has access to and knows how to use the tools, which you can ensure with proper onboarding and training when an employee first joins the business, or through additional training and simple tutorials for existing workers.
I always encourage remote staff to communicate with each other, as well as with myself, frequently so they can exchange ideas, share experiences and still feel as though they’re part of a team. This will help preserve the office culture and will make it easier for your staff to adapt to a remote style of working.
3. Plug your knowledge gap
When people are working outside the office environment, they can lose sight of the wider business goals and aims. They also lose a valuable point of reference in their colleagues for finding out what else is happening in the organisation. It goes without saying that it’s important your team fully understands what the business aims are. This is one of your principal responsibilities as team leader.
Encourage communication as much as possible, whether it be between teams, between yourself and them or even between other departments within the business. Such exchanges will only help to bolster your employees wider understanding of how the wider business operates.
Make sure your teams understand your vision and goals, but also make sure you’re sensitive and attuned to their individual preferred methods of working. For example, some employees may want to lean on you and your immediate team for advice more often than others. Ensure information and assistance is always readily available.
4. There’s a time for work and a time for play
When communicating with remote employees, you risk falling into the trap of only talking about work. This is demoralising. Imagine you were still in the office, think of all the things you talk about with your team, local events, weekend plans, the weather, make sure you’re still talking to them like people – not just remote workers
It can sometimes be hard to maintain relationships with individuals who you aren’t seeing every day, but it is important to help keep morale up as they work from home, particularly at stressful times.
Keep things light wherever possible, arrange tasks and team building exercises making use of the technology at your disposal. Just because you’re all working from home, doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.
5. Delegate and trust your teams
If you’re managing multiple remote workers or teams, it’s going to be impossible to infiltrate every aspect of their working day. That’s why delegation – although an integral tool for all leaders – is especially important to those whose employees are remote working.
It can be tempting to try to manage teams single-handedly, but under these circumstances this is particularly unlikely, so delegate responsibility as much as possible and make sure you’re demonstrating trust in your workforce to get the job done between them, without too much oversight.
6. Be sensitive to schedules
Right now, it’s important to make allowances for workers. With only a brief window in the day for exercise or shopping, you must give your employees the freedom to decide when their breaks will be, how they will spend them and when they get back to work. Offer support wherever possible while also making deadlines clear.
A final thought
Being far enough removed to allow your teams a sense of autonomy, whilst also being involved enough to make sure they’re satisfied and productive is a difficult balance to achieve. Hopefully, however, the above advice will act as a springboard for you to establish what works best for you and your teams.
If you have any further questions or concerns about hiring in the current climate, please contact your Hays consultant, or visit our Inspire Me in the New Era of Work Hub to access a collection of resources that will help you to manage your team, undertake interviews and successfully onboard new candidates – all whilst working remotely.
About this author
Jane joined Hays in 1994 as an Associate. Initially recruiting within the Accounting and Finance in Scotland she progressed to Regional Director in 1999 running all Hays Finance, Office Support and Customer Contact recruitment across the North East of England.
Moving to Hays Australia in 2001 as Regional Director for offices across the Sydney and Canberra specialisms included Finance, Procurement, IT, and Banking. Jane also launched Hays Life Sciences in Australia and was instrumental in the development of the national Healthcare and Education business. In 2006 Jane was appointed a Senior Regional Director.
Jane returned to the UK in July 2013 initially completing a number of operational project roles in Cambridge and Chelmsford before taking responsibility, in 2015, as Regional Director for 6 offices across Essex and Suffolk. In 2017 Jane was appointed as the Managing Director for the East of England region, covering 17 offices. She also currently sits on the council for the CBI in the East of England.