Many companies now expect to maintain remote and semi-remote workforces even after the pandemic subsides. This means managers and supervisors now need additional skills to manage remote and blended teams.
Challenges inherent in remote work include:
- Lack of face-to-face supervision
- Lack of access to information
- Diminished collaboration
- Social isolation
- Distractions at home
- Enhanced issues with already existing silos
Whether a team was already remote or became semi-remote or fully remote during the pandemic, the last year has brought enough change that considering these aspects of virtual team management can be beneficial.
Set Expectations. The most important thing you can do is to establish shared expectations. These expectations encompass everything from virtual work hours to responsiveness to project scheduling to adjusting timelines.
Over Communicate. When employees are working remotely and lacking the casual connectedness of the office, communication is paramount.
- Conduct Individual Check-Ins. Consider setting up a short one-on-one meeting (10 or 15 minutes) once or twice a week with everyone on your team.
- Schedule Weekly Team Meetings. Managers must plan their meetings thoughtfully, with an established productive rhythm while leaving space for the natural rapport building between teammates.
Designate Communication Channels. Provide written guidelines about team communication. What information should utilize which tool? What norms apply to each tool? Ex.: Can you be in your car? Do you have to have the camera on? Should you leave chat open at all times? What is the expectation of timeliness? etc.
Prioritize Outcomes Over Activity. Clearly defining the goals and desired results, then allowing employees to develop a plan of execution enhances creativity and ownership.
Show Flexibility and Empathy. Keep in mind that some people will adjust better to remote work than others. Some folks need the social interactions that come from being in an office with a team of colleagues. Be sure to dedicate some time to ensuring everyone is doing well in their remote work.
Watch for Signs of Increased Stress. With isolation risk, work life balance issues and increased stress levels increasingly present in the homes of employees, managers also need to know how to watch for signs of stress and burnout virtually. Understanding how performance issues can indicate the need for support and knowing how to intervene and offer that support can be the crucial difference between employee improvement and ultimately, retention.
— Adapted from 5 Statistics Employers Need To Know About The Remote Workforce, Forbes.com