Right now, remote working--or, working from home--has become more than a trend. It's now a necessity for companies all across the globe. As a result, there are thousands of team leaders and managers who find themselves suddenly managing a completely remote team. Honestly, that can be scary, especially if it's the first time you've ever had to do so and didn't have a lot of time to prepare.
If that's you, this list of tips will help you set up yourself and your team for success:
1. Have a Daily Check-In
Whenever possible, this should be one-on-one, and face-to-face via video. Phone conversations, email, and Slack go only so far. Your team needs to see you, and you need to see them. The good news is that services like Zoom or Google's Team Hangouts make this relatively easy. At first, this should be every day. The purpose is simple--set the agenda and provide the feedback and resources your team members need.
2. Communicate a Lot
It probably goes without saying that you should be in regular communication with your team. One of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you're used to an office environment, is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can set in. That's especially true considering that many people are practicing social distancing.
3. Take Advantage of Technology
As a manager, your job is to keep your team connected. Communication tools are a simple way to keep everyone engaged. While email and text messages might be a short-term solution, tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are far better suited for collaboration and communication. Some of those collaboration tools are even available for free right now.
4. Manage Expectations
Help your team figure out what they should do, and create realistic expectations for their work. By the way, "managing expectations" applies to you as a manager as well. Set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating both the tasks and the reasons behind them, and help your team understand exactly how you will measure success.
That means defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. Otherwise, don't be surprised if a few weeks from now you find yourself wondering what everyone was doing. Which brings us to ...
5. Focus on Outcomes, Not Activity
It's not possible to manage every aspect of the work done by a remote team. For what it's worth, you shouldn't be trying to manage every aspect of any team's work, but especially when your team is distributed across different locations. Instead of focusing on activity or hours worked, focus on the outcomes and measure your team accordingly.
6. Resource Your Team
Make sure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. If you suddenly have a team of remote workers, that means there's a good chance they need tools like laptops, software, mobile devices, or even a high-speed internet connection. It's not reasonable to assume that everyone has all of those things, and it's your responsibility as a manager to make sure they do.
7. Be Flexible
Understand that, especially in the current environment, your team has a lot going on. That's not an excuse for not getting things done, but it is a reason to reconsider what productivity really means. Punching a clock for eight hours is out. Regular work hours are also probably out for many people. Instead, trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. That's good for your team in the long run anyway.