Questions arise such as:
How can I build a culture with my team if they are not in the same building?
Can I trust team members to deliver when working from home?
Is my remote team supported sufficiently?
As experts in delivering high quality training and professional development for individuals and organisations, we understand the challenges leaders face.
So, to ensure you get the very best out of your remote teams in 2023, we have put together our seven top tips to help you succeed.
Based on our one-day course for team leaders and managers: Leading Remote and Virtual Teams, our suggestions are a great way to ensure that motivation and productivity remain high wherever your people are based.
1. Manage less not more
There are several key differences between managing remotely and face-to-face. When you can see the members of your team you know where they are, what they are doing, and they can reach out to you for help when needed.
Managing from a distance relies more on input from your team which essentially means your role as a manager changes.
Develop team members to be proactive so they can deal with issues as they arise but ensure they feel comfortable to ask for support when required.
Learn to be more of a coach and to motivate team members to achieve their potential. The big mistake many leaders make is to think they must manage their remote teams more when they actually have to manage less!
2. Good communication is key to success
Building engagement and commitment from a distance presents a unique set of challenges but when done well can lead to increased productivity and well-being resulting in a motivated, flexible and adaptable workforce.
Good communication skills are key, and managers need to feel comfortable with setting up meetings remotely, to determine the most effective technology for their team - and be ready to deal with technical problems when they arise - and to be mindful of different time zones.
If your teams are out of sight, they shouldn’t be out of mind. Take extra measures to discuss their ideas or to encourage informal communication to replace the face-to-face interaction at the office. And promote new ways of collaboration whenever possible.
3. Fairness is important
Managing a mix of office-based and home workers can be challenging. A major pitfall is for leaders to think they have two teams – those who are home based and those who are working remotely.
This defines the team in two and can create slight biases towards one team over another particularly when it comes to sharing information. Think of having one whole team which is interacting virtually all the time wherever they are based.
Fairness is of paramount importance so be aware of varying work schedules and offer alternatives for team meetings rather than always holding them at the same time when some members can’t attend. Ensure everyone is treated equitably and be culturally sensitive. Aim to accommodate reasonable requests and be unbiased in your decision making.
4. Swap 9-5 activity for outputs and deadlines
Build an environment of trust and forget traditional workplace situations where a day at the office is considered to be a full seven or eight hours work starting at 9:00.
Boundaries between the workplace and home can blur for remote workers. Consider outputs rather than the amount of time spent behind a desk.
Ensure your team members are clear about what needs to be delivered and by when and put in place structures to follow up individual progress.
Be clear about guidelines and clarify any rules.
5. Effective onboarding is a must
Inducting new team members can be tricky when everyone is in the same location but it can be even more challenging for remote workers.
Examine your onboarding processes and make sure they are suitable for remote and hybrid teams – you will have a completely different set of priorities for your home-based workers than those who are office based.
Remember a new team member can’t just pop down the corridor and ask how they should do something or where all those important documents are filed on the system.
Try and schedule in daily check-in meetings to help new employees feel comfortable during their first few weeks.
6. Extend your reach
Your role as a remote leader is to remove the obstacles that stop teams performing and provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Reed Learning’s one-day course includes a five-step approach to extending your REACH* as a remote manager:
Responsive – make yourself as available to remote team members as those who are office-based
Empathy – tune into others’ feelings, viewpoints and perspectives
Accountable – build ownership for individual results and in the team
Connect – create links between team members and throughout the organisation
Help – provide support for individuals and teams to achieve success
7. Get to know your team
There’s lots of different ways to get to know your remote team. Try and check in with individuals on a regular basis. Provide frequent feedback and support.
Recognise and reward the contribution of individuals in a team setting. If you have the budget, organise a social event for your teams at least once a year so people can get to know each other face-to-face.
Hold team meetings in different locations every now and then if that is possible. Offer a remote weekly afternoon ‘tea break’ and natter which people can join on a flexible basis. Above all, build and maintain trust in your remote team.
Find out more
Reed Learning offers over a wide range of cost-effective courses to upskill teams and individuals. For more information about our in-company training portfolio contact us today on 020 7932 2760.
*Source: Forum, Leading Remote Teams is Virtually the Same, Maggie Walsh