Managing a team of employees can be a complex task during the best of times. When those employees happen to be working remotely, the job of the manager can become even harder. You need to take care of your teams from a distance while also keeping people motivated.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic forcing teams around the world to work remotely for the foreseeable future, many managers are looking for ways to help people adjust and continue to be engaged and productive - no matter where they are in the world. Unfortunately, most manager training is ineffective or non-existent, meaning you may not have the tools you need.
In this post, we’ve got six key techniques for managers helping teams to adjust to remote working environments. From knowing how to collaborate effectively to communicating from a distance, here's everything you need to adjust to the new normal of remote work.
Let’s start with the basics: hosting daily check-ins with your teams.
Research shows that over 4.7 million people across the globe had already been working remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, in early 2021, these numbers have grown exponentially. This makes it critical for managers to keep communication channels open.
Most employees are not used to working remotely, and still need regular contact to feel engaged and motivated. That’s why it’s so important to keep your communication channels open with daily check-ins. No matter what tool you use, these check-ins must happen regularly.
This not only allows managers to stay on top of their team’s workload, but also helps to build and maintain a personal rapport with people. Hosting these check-ins gives managers an insight into the support people need, from workload management to new software. It also provides visibility across collaboration between different teams.
And while we’re on the topic of collaboration...
Cross-functional teams consist of employees from various backgrounds and professions who unite on a common project. An example could be the marketing team working with the design team on a new website, or the product team working with the marketing team on a new product launch. This cross-functionality helps to bring fresh ideas and vision to the table, and has become more popular as more teams have shifted to remote work.
For managers, prioritizing this cross-functional collaboration is a great way to build project teams that are more effective, and bring a cross-section of skills and experience. For remote teams, this collaboration helps to break down silos, increase engagement in shared projects and social interactions across teams.
Alongside the increased commitment to Collaborative Learning where teams own their learning needs and share subject-matter expertise to benefit others, the use of cross-functional teams is helping to drive stronger performance in distributed workforces. These trends precede the emergence of COVID-19, and will continue to shape our work habits despite the pandemic.
For managers helping their teams to adjust to the new realities of remote work, this cross-functional collaboration is essential. Look for ways to build this collaboration into your work program, and watch as your teams learn from each other and grow together.
Recognition programs are a critical tool for managers helping teams adjust to remote work. These programs don’t just include annual performance appraisals, but also include tools that make employees feel valued and seen.
Programs such as monetary rewards, employee of the month, verbal or written appreciation, as well as coupons or gift cards are a great way for an organization to push their employees to perform better. Research shows 58% of employees consider recognition to be the best way to keep people productive.
Keeping your teams happy and engaged should be your number one priority as a manager. These recognition programs are a simple and cost-effective way to mark outstanding performance and reinforce the values and standards of your workplace.
Related: Our Extended New Employee Checklist for Achieving 93% Engagement
Right now, with COVID-19 forcing everyone to stay at home, you might find yourself missing the office. After all, one of the things that makes physical workplaces so great is the chance for spontaneous, unplanned interactions with people. No matter how diligent you are with planning remote meetings, it’s tough to match the joy of chatting while you’re waiting for coffee to brew.
But you can still try. Whether it’s one-on-one or in groups, make time for spontaneous communication - and don’t feel like it always has to be work-related. For example, scheduling half-hour breaks with people can be a great way to encourage your team to bond.
A lot of remote employees struggle with loneliness and isolation. Besides being serious personal issues, these trends can also have a huge impact on work performance, productivity, and wellbeing. Creating an environment that encourages and celebrates non-work-related communication is a key way to keep your people connected and help them feel supported.
Remote management tools are a big hit among organizations looking to keep their teams and work organized from a distance. These tools work by connecting your teams and making it easier for them to share their knowledge, expertise, and insights.
With remote management tools, you can ensure a greater level of certainty for shared projects, helping distributed teams complete tasks on time and to the expected standard. Regardless of your geographical location, these tools are a real blessing for remote teams.
There’s a good reason why tools such as ProofHub, JIRA, Instagantt, Trello, Slack, Monday, and many more have increased in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re there to help teams cope with remote working and get things done from a distance.
In addition, a Collaborative Learning platform offers ways to build closer connections between remote teams through the learning process. A Collaborative Learning platform makes it faster and easier for people to declare learning needs, share their subject-matter expertise, and contribute to collective learning content. While the growing use of Collective Learning precedes COVID-19, the trend is helping thousands of businesses stay connected and learn together.
A Collaborative Learning platform are also amazing for remote onboarding, especially with training sales reps. As a manager, it is one of your key responsibilities to help your team stay organized, learn from each other, and share their specialist knowledge. With the right Collaborative Learning tool, you can achieve exactly that.
Related: The G2 Winter Reports Are Out - 360Learning is a Leader in Every Learning at Work Category
If your team can’t come to the office, you must bring the office to them. After all, an office isn’t just about deadlines; it’s also about creating bonds with people. Non-work interactions are a must for remote teams, and it’s up to managers to make time to celebrate virtual events.
Hosting a virtual office event every once in a while is a great way to bring your team together from a distance. It’s a refreshing change from the daily work routine, and it gives the employees something to look forward to. These events help everyone forget the world for a minute or two.
Consider celebrating occasions such as Halloween, Diwali, or Thanksgiving using video conferencing tools such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Meet. Just be careful not to overdo it, as you don’t want the fun, lighthearted events to turn into a chore for people.
Along with these six remote management techniques, there are several other ways managers can bring their remote teams together and forge professional as well as personal relationships. As long as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to interrupt the world of work, you’ll need all the help you can get to keep your employees motivated and engaged.
Remember, managing a team is about growing together, and getting to know the people around you. It’s your responsibility to keep your team up to date with all the new developments at work, check-in with them, and be patient while they adjust to the world of remote working.
We hope these six management techniques steer you in the right direction and devise the right strategy to help your team adjust to the realities of remote work.
All the best!
Interested in seeing how Collaborative Learning can help you keep your teams engaged from afar? Book a demo now.