Best Practices in Managing Your Remote Team

A lot has changed in the workplace as the effects of the global coronavirus pandemic have been felt worldwide. It’s important not to let fears, anxieties or stressors get in the way of what’s important—the productivity and success of your company and your overall wellbeing. It’s important to always keep your management skills sharp, no matter the situation. This article will explore the benefits of having remote employees, ways you can improve your management skills and how you can lead your remote team to success.

Smiling woman with glasses working on laptop at bright office desk.

Evaluate Your Management Skills

Before we launch into a discussion about the value of remote teams and how you can work to fully engage them, it’s a good idea to take some time to evaluate your management skills. Before COVID-19 disrupted life and work, what was working well for you as a leader? What aspect of your management style could use improvement? Now is not the time to brush off thoughts of becoming a better leader. Instead, you should be constantly evolving your management skills. Your employees deserve it—after all, they are working hard to adjust their work patterns to complete tasks for you.

Management skills can be broken down into several categories:

  • Self-agency – you are able to self-motivate and inspire others to do the same
  • Networking – you can make connections with other people because you have high emotional intelligence and work well with others
  • Time management – you know how to schedule and accomplish tasks in a timely manner
  • Planning – you’re skilled at creating strategies and following through with carefully planned execution of ideas
  • Leadership – you have a positive influence with your team and have earned their trust
  • Problem-solving – you use practical knowledge and creativity to create innovative solutions to complex problems

As teams navigate working from home, skills in all of these categories will be tested. Unprecedented changes require creative thinking to overcome the resulting challenges. A good way to use creative thinking is to adopt a growth mindset and encourage your team members to do the same. Adopting a growth mindset means that you and your team recognize that there will be setbacks, but remain dedicated to learning from anything that goes wrong and creating new tactics to use going forward.

Does your management style encourage creative problem-solving and a growth mindset in your team? If not, it’s time to start bringing these concepts to your employees. They can easily learn these concepts while working from home and can look to you for guidance in the coming weeks.

How Remote Employees Contribute to Company Wellbeing

There are several benefits of having remote employees. According to Gallup, employees are 43 percent less likely to experience burnout when they have flexibility in what tasks to do and when and how to do them. This suggests that under normal circumstances, employees can see improved mental health when they are able to work from home at least part of the time. Employees who can work from home are able to experience increased self-efficacy and self-confidence when they are allowed to complete tasks in their own way and on their own time. And, of course, when employees feel good, they produce better work.

90 percent of employees who have worked remotely indicate that they would prefer to do so for the rest of their career. This suggests that even after the global pandemic, there will likely be increases to the number of remote workers globally. Even after the pandemic, many employees will either continue to work remotely full-time or will start taking advantage of working from home part-time. Try to find some stability now, because your organization will likely have a competitive advantage in being able to manage remote employees well in the future.

Crafting Management Strategies to Enhance Remote Work

So, how can you stay ahead of the curve and whip your remote work policies into shape despite a global pandemic? It all starts with leadership and how you can use your management skills to lead your team to success. Now is the time to craft effective policies and procedures for your remote employees using strategic planning.

A good place to start is adapting the Five Ws to work for you in leading your remote team to success. The Five Ws (who, what, where, when and why) are extraordinarily useful in creating a work from home plan that will keep your company productive. Using this method can help you set priorities, gather and analyze data, set goals at a reasonable pace, and evaluate strategies.

  1. Who? Which team members are critical to achieving your goals? Does anyone in your organization have experience migrating employees to work from home? Which individuals will be most valuable as you lead your team through uncharted waters? Identify exactly who can be used as a key player during the transition.
  2. What? Ask yourself, what will success look like? What will an effective transition to remote work do for our organization? What are our current pressures and needs? What might improvement look like?
  3. Where? Which departments might benefit from more remote work allowances in the future? Where will you notice benefits to the organization? Where might you anticipate some problems popping up?
  4. When? When will you take employees remote? Right now, this question has been answered for you, as your team was forced to work from home due to COVID-19. However, think outside the box. Ask yourself, when this is all over, who would benefit from continuing to work remote? When would you enact more permanent policies to make this happen? This is a great opportunity to come up with a tentative timeline for how your organization will proceed with remote work in the future.Why? Make sure everyone involved understands why you are crafting new remote work policies. Everyone should feel rooted in an overall mission as a result of the changes.

It can be tricky to not only set up remote teams as rapidly as we have had to, but to maintain your established flow and pivot into greater prosperity in the future. Here are a few ways to gain stable footing now, which will increase your chances of remaining successful moving forward:

  • Involve top executives – The CEO and other high-level executives should be involved in the process. This will help reinforce company culture and a sense of togetherness
  • Reinforce company values and missions – Regular communication with remote teams reminding employees what they’re working toward will help keep overall morale high Promote a digital culture – Find methods to imitate the ways employees connect and bond at the office. Use creative problem-solving to come up with your version of a virtual water cooler where people can share ideas
  • Use the right tools – Evaluate what kinds of products you will need to be productive online. Invest in the hardware and software that will benefit your team the most
  • Show compassion and authenticity – When communicating with employees, take care to let your personality shine through just as it would if you were talking face to face

 Next Steps

Now that you understand why it’s important to continually improve your management skills and adapt your goals and visions, it’s a great idea to take some time to educate yourself on further ways to improve. Our teams are working from home for the foreseeable future, but that does not mean that innovation and momentum have to slow down. KnowledgeCity’s course “Strategic Execution for Management” will show you how to craft innovative strategies that will lead your team to be productive and successful despite the challenging times ahead. In this course, you will learn how to decide what direction to lead your team in, management’s role in adapting strategies for best results and how to avoid common pitfalls that disrupt innovation.

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