managing remote teams

Top Trends to Implement in 2021 For Managing Remote Teams

***Updated on 19 April, 2021

Workplace trends for distributed teams

As we head back to work, it’s a good time for managers and leaders to think about helping their teams have a productive 2021.

Leaders will need to implement new ways of managing remote teams. From building a positive culture to adopting a growth mindset, we discuss top management trends for distributed teams. We also share how leaders can implement strategies to ensure a successful 2021.

1. Cultivate a high-performance culture

While there are many positives of a distributed team, building an influential culture is a key challenge. Managers can build a results-based culture by valuing outputs and outcomes, not inputs. Empowering employees to take responsibility for personal and organisational goals will boost performance and morale.

It’s also essential to lead with purpose. Everyone should know why their work matters and why it’s important to them personally. This will help to keep employees motivated and engaged. Organisations that demonstrate ethical decision making, including environmental and social responsibility, often enjoy more support from employees, customers and the community.

managing remote teams

Effective onboarding is especially important for employees who have never met their colleagues in person. Some companies like DocuSign are extending the onboarding experience into months instead of weeks. This allows employees to connect with mentors and buddies. The extra time allows new hires to be better integrated into the business.

2. Focus on skills development

As teams navigate distributed work, knowing how to be effective will make it much easier to achieve business goals. Both individual and team productivity training is a worthy investment to consider. Productivity habits can be learned and can be used in both professional and personal lives.

Adaptability is a mindset, and flexible teams will thrive in a fast-changing environment. Encourage your team to be open to new ways of working. Having a growth mindset can help teams maximise their effectiveness.

Managers will also need to refine their skills, to keep employees engaged and maintain open communication. Empathy and trust are especially important for hybrid teams, to show your employees that you care about their professional and personal wellbeing.

3. Promote inclusivity

While there are many advantages to remote work, there are also challenges for managers. One challenge is maintaining a level playing field for all employees. Remote workers may be left out of decisions made in the office. Office-based staff output may seem more visible.

Managers should model inclusive workplace practices. This is important for not only managing remote teams but also for leading a successful hybrid team. These practices could include:

  • Inclusive team meetings – find a time that works for everyone, and make sure that each team member has a chance to share their insights.
  • Inclusive team communication – make sure that team communication involves all staff. Remind office-based staff to use agreed communication channels for all work-related conversations, so that remote workers don’t miss out on information. Use video conferencing tools whenever possible, to give remote workers more virtual face time.
  • Regular one-on-one catch-ups – set up regular catch-ups with all your employees, so you can check in on how they’re going. This is extra important for remote workers to feel connected and supported.

4. Facilitate connection and collaboration

Collaboration in distributed teams needs to be supported by the right technology tools. For example, digital communications tools like Slack and Asana allow remote workers to connect and collaborate within their schedules.

virtual co-working

Employees need both structure and unstructured time to connect and socialise. Unstructured time can recreate the traditional “water cooler” and chance corridor conversations. This will be especially important for new and younger employees to build their networks and social capital. Try setting up virtual coffees with small groups of employees, to give them a chance to recreate office coffee runs.

Many leaders stepped up in 2020 and adapted their way of managing remote teams. There will no doubt be new challenges and opportunities in 2021. PEP can help you define your purpose and increase team productivity. Learn how we can help you and your team increase productivity, regardless of working location. Our programs will help you and your team not only survive but thrive in 2021.

By Simon Nicholls

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