The Covid pandemic has changed our lives in many ways. Not only have we had to adapt to how we interact socially, but many workplaces also had to pivot and ask many of their employees to work remotely. While this was a big adjustment for some, many organizations realized that adopting a remote working culture was preferred by their employees. This created an opportunity in that many could shed themselves of the costs of maintaining a bricks-and-mortar workspace. However, moving to a remote working culture presented challenges for some managers who had to learn how to manage teams they were not in front of daily.
Many of our clients asked us for tips on what new tools or skills managers will need to ensure their teams stay productive and accountable. We produced our top four tips as follows:
- Set expectations
- Conduct individual check-ins
- Schedule weekly team meetings
- Practice patience and empathy
Those managing remote teams need to outline what is expected of the team members. Expectations can range from what are virtual work hours to set deadlines for when certain pieces of work assigned to the team need to be completed. Like in-person teams, remote team members need to understand the requirements of the manager for keeping work on track and collaborating with the team on how best to report on work progress.
Conduct Individual Check-Ins
Along with setting expectations, it is also crucial for managers to have 1-1 virtual facetime with each remote team member. While managers don’t want to be seen as micro managing the team, it is essential to provide each team member with the opportunity to check in, ask for help if they need it, and update the manager on the progress of the projects the team member is working on, and just generally have a two-way dialogue with the team member on how things are going.
Consider setting up 10–15-minute 1-1 time with each team member once or twice a week. Also, let them know you are available outside of these set times if anything comes up where they need to reach out to the manager for assistance.
Schedule Weekly Team Meetings
In addition to individual check-ins, a manager of remote teams needs to bring the entire team together at least once per week to allow time for work updates, for team members to seek advice from their peers if needed, and just generally provide time for each team member to update the rest of the team on what they are working on so everyone stays connected.
This can also be an opportunity for a manager to celebrate with the team on hitting certain work milestones, shine the spotlight on a team member who may have accomplished a challenging work task, or just celebrate a team member’s birthday or other life events.
Practice Empathy and Patience
Some people may need time to adjust to remote work. This is especially true for those who gain energy by being in person with their teammates. Moving to remote is not only an adjustment for how a manager leads a team, but it can also be a significant adjustment to those who thrive better in a live working environment. This means managers must practice empathy, patience, and compassion whenever they communicate with their remote team members. It is incumbent upon the manager to be patient during a team member’s adjustment period. Not everyone will adjust to working independently right away, so managers must remain patient and provide opportunities for collaborative discussion with those individuals who may be struggling with working virtually to develop ways that team members can stay productive and happy working independently.
Moving to remote work can be challenging for team members and invigorating for others. To successfully transition teams from working as an in-person group to working independently in a virtual environment will require energy and compassion from the manager to allow time for their team members to adjust to their new virtual normal.
If you would like additional information on managing a virtual team effectively, our team of experts is here to help. Please feel free to contact us at email@example.com