With the coronavirus spreading and more and more companies offering (or even urging) employees to work from home, I decided to dedicate this week’s email update to remote work.
As a former VP of a global organization, I led teams that were spread across the globe which meant I had to stretch my management approach. Plus, preceding an office relocation, I worked from home for several months and got to experience the good and the bad of remote work as well 🙂
While leading a remote team doesn’t require a whole new skill set it is often more disorienting, time-consuming, and complex… for the manager and team members alike!
Below are some of my key tips for managing remote employees.
- Socialize virtually: Once a week, call or message them simply to check-in and ask how they’re doing. This replaced the typical water cooler or coffee chats that you’d have at the office. It’s important to take the time to socialize virtually as it’s what helps build trust and connection.
- Set crystal clear expectations and plan weekly or daily status updates: Set clear expectations on deliverables and milestones and if helpful, ask the employee to send a status update by the end of the day or week (here is a template of a status update email that I provide to my clients to manage up but it’s the exact same concept). You could also do simple morning and evening check-ins with everyone through Slack or similar collaboration tools.
- Set them up for success: On that note, when setting goals include result-oriented goals (WHAT they need to accomplish) and process-oriented goals (HOW they can accomplish these goals) for team members who need the extra support.
- Discuss the basics: Let them know how fast you expect them to respond to emails, Slack messages or other communication and how much flexibility they have in terms of working hours. This will remove a lot of anxiety on both sides.
- Use video as much as possible: More than half of communication is non-verbal. When you don’t get to see someone in the office every day, having any type of visual clue to what someone is thinking is essential. Use free or inexpensive tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom as often as possible.
- Out of sight should not mean out of mind: Give frequent and personal recognition (maybe this blog post gives you some inspiration).
- Exude trust: Trust your remote employees unless proven otherwise! If they need to earn your trust first you’re not setting them or your relationship up for success.
- Communicate openly: Ask them what’s working and what isn’t. Here are some ideas: What’s your setup like for working? Is there anything you feel you’re missing? What’s most challenging for you in your daily work routine? How do you manage distractions during the day? Is it a challenge for you?
If you are already or soon expect to manage a remote team, carefully think about how to establish and maintain high levels of trust and how to create a collaborative and transparent work environment.
Knowing what to do when managing remotely and how to do it well will be incredibly important in leading your team through this uncertain time.