by Eileen Moloney, Head of Marketing at Brightwater
Managing a remote team can present unique challenges but understanding those challenges will improve both engagement and productivity.
Offering the flexibility from home is an option increasingly appearing on contracts for new employees but it’s still not commonplace and the majority of companies haven’t had to manage this on a large-scale basis. Events in recent days have created a situation where employers have had to offer remote working options but how are you going to keep your teams motivated when you, as an employer are also trying to cope with new challenges and worries about business continuity?
Managing a team when everyone is working remotely may seem as easy as a simple check-in once in a while but keeping people motivated and on track, especially if they’re not accustomed to working remotely, is harder than it seems. If you’ve hired the right people, then you already know that they’re able to do their work efficiently but working remotely can present its own unique set of challenges. There are a few points to consider:
Equipping your teams with the tools to be able to do the work properly
Having the right IT infrastructure in place to enable remote working is key. Usually it means being able to outfit your teams with laptops and/or mobile phones where required and access to systems. There may be some concerns about GDPR but companies are putting stringent policies in place about access to information while working from home. Usually all system usage can be both tracked and traced by internal IT teams so if there is a breach, that can be managed.
Using tools like Skype, Zoom and Microsoft Teams are all excellent ways of keeping in touch and holding meetings with both employees and clients so it’s vital to ensure that your employees have these tools at their disposal.
Make sure that your key leaders have relevant contact details for all those in their teams and their reporting lines. Ensure that the office number is being answered albeit remotely and calls can either be forwarded on or messages sent to the right people.
Implementing an effective communication process
Establishing a clear action plan for employees to work from home should be high on the list of any employer’s priorities. This has a two-fold effect; ensuring employees’ concerns are taken seriously and also ensuring that disruption to productivity and business continuity is minimised.
Communicating with your employees is key during this move. Establishing clear guidelines on expectations is vital at the beginning but being able to keep in contact with them throughout the process is also important not only for business but also for keeping morale up amongst your workforce. Encourage teams to hold a 15 minute meeting over video conferencing at the beginning of the day so that they don’t feel isolated and individual calls throughout the day. Have a video call with your senior team to ensure that you’re kept up to date with everything going on in the business.
Communication is never more important than when it comes to engaging with your clients. If you have social media channels, push the fact that your employees are working from home but are still contactable through a central process. Keep in touch with your clients via phone call /video call or email. They’ll want to know that their requirements can still be met.
Implement a strategy to ensure that KPIs are still being met where possible. Do remember that in times of crisis, KPIs and goals may have to be adjusted. However, even in ordinary circumstances, it’s still vital to keep your remote workers engaged and motivated. Set clear expectations from the start; when staff know what to expect, they can perform accordingly. Stay focused on the end results and not necessarily how the work gets done.
Make sure you or their team leader have visibility of everyone’s workload and that it’s realistic. If one person has too much, reallocate it where possible to another so all employees are working in a healthy manner that doesn’t risk burnout. When working remotely, it can be hard to switch off at the end of the day so manage expectations realistically.
It’s also vital to ensure that the element of trust is there. As long as the remote worker gets their job done within the deadline, then trust them to work in the way they see best. When it comes to remote working, giving your employees both trust and the autonomy to get their work done is the best way forward.
All of the points above give just a few ways to manage your remote team but at the end of the day, the human touch is still important. Check in on your teams to see how they’re doing personally as well as professionally. Understanding the challenges that remote working presents, will ultimately improve and build both engagement and productivity across your teams. Remote working doesn’t have to mean remote teams, equip them properly with the tools and resources to do their job and your business and your teams will thrive!