15 Jun Our Top Tips on How to Manage Remote Teams
***Updated on 11 February, 2021
Is remote work becoming the new normal?
In 2020, workplaces have changed in ways that most of us couldn’t predict. While we cannot control most of these changes, we can prepare ourselves to adapt. So how can workplaces adjust and benefit from the opportunities that come with this change?
A silver lining of Covid19 is that remote work has become culturally acceptable in workplaces. Now that we’ve proven that we can work from home, past stigma is lifting. With large organisations like Facebook and Google already making remote work options more permanent, we might expect to see the shift to remote work become commonplace for many more workplaces.
Indeed, it seems to be that Australian workers are embracing this new normal. The LinkedIn Workforce Confidence Index shows that people in the Finance, Software and IT, and Public Admin sectors believe they can effectively work from home. Many employers have invested time and resources into setting up virtual workplaces, so it seems fair that they will be keen to take advantage of the overheads savings.
According to Gartner CFO survey, as many as 74% of companies plan to have workers continuing to work remotely post-Covid19. Considering the need for COVID Safe workplaces, we may find that it is unlikely we will be returning to full-time office work anytime soon.
Employers will start making the shift to remote working on a more permanent basis. We will see that managing remote teams will present challenges and opportunities for leaders.
Challenges of working from home
In many cases, employees may require preparation for full-time remote work. Identifying potential barriers when developing your team’s approach to working from home is essential.
Here are some common challenges:
- Remote work can leave employees feeling isolated from their teams.
- Flexible and remote work means that it can be more challenging to find a meeting time that suits everyone.
- Various circumstances mean home can be a distracting place – with household chores, homeschooling children, or other responsibilities.
- Remote work may cause communication delays as the team relies more on email, rather than a face-to-face conversation.
If you want to know how to manage remote teams effectively, you need to have new thinking and new skills. Employers can mitigate many of these challenges by utilising the right combination of remote work and in-office work. Employees can have the option of going into the office a few times a week.
``Managing remote teams requires new thinking and new skills.``
How to manage remote teams successfully
When appropriately implemented, remote work can increase job satisfaction. Flexibility, better workload management, increased autonomy, and fewer interruptions can all assist in making the work-day run smoother. It can turn these challenges into advantages. However, it requires a healthy combination of mindset and behavioural change among leaders and teams.
Here are our Top 3 Tips for How to Manage Remote Teams to make the most of the potential benefits:
1. Build a results-based culture
Since the work will be conducted offsite and without supervision, leaders need to develop trust with their team. Empowering people to take responsibility for their performance goals can increase morale. In a results-based culture, what matters is outputs and outcomes – not inputs or presenteeism. Managing workloads is a crucial element to ensure individuals are not overworked.
2. Lead with purpose
In a world without presenteeism, managers and teams should be free to focus on how they are contributing. Remind people why their work matters. Lead with intention by allowing your team to experiment and solve real problems. Here are some practical suggestions on how to lead with purpose and motivate your team.
3. Get the right mix of technology
Removing barriers to access information and people is essential to successful remote work. Team members are not all working at the same time, so there is a need to be flexible to manage conflicting schedules.
We suggest embracing asynchronous communication channels such as Microsoft Teams or Slack, which can become a reliable flow of information. If you’re using email as your primary communication tool, you should also learn how to increase productivity using email. However, it is crucial to provide teams with adequate training in these systems and processes to ensure communication is optimised.
In a new normal of remote work, both leaders and their teams need new skills. Taking the time to develop a practical approach to this mode of operation is key to ensuring your team perform successfully.
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By Simon Nicholls