As businesses are forced to close offices, hundreds of thousands of managers are doing something they never thought they would do — managing remote teams. Sending employees home and telling them to keep working is not a strategy, it’s a crisis reaction. As reality sets in and everyone sorts through the chaos, these new remote managers will be responsible for getting work done. But how? We’re here to help.
RNI, the Remote Nation Institute, is holding a series of half-hour webinars to help you help your employees work remotely, efficiently, and happily. As part of these learnings, we offer tips, based on years of remote work experience.
Every day, we’ll give you one concrete action you can take with your team to keep your people focused and on task.
Sophaya’s Tip o’ the Day
- Establish an information command center.
Communication is key. Set up a virtual command center and designate a point person to run it. Disseminating information and gathering feedback will help things move forward. There are lots of technology options available to help with this. If your team uses Microsoft products and you work in a Microsoft 365 virtual desktop environment, you’ll have group chat, document sharing, video/audio conferencing, even live streaming in one interface, available from any place with internet access.
- Set clear expectations.
Whether your company has 5 or 5,000 employees, everyone needs two things – clear, realistic expectations and a way to share their needs/frustrations/concerns. If they don’t have them, remote employees get disconnected, discouraged, and disengaged fast. In the absence of information, people lose focus and get frustrated. It’s never good.
- Schedule regular meetings.
When a manager provides clear, specific instructions and information, employees find it easier to work effectively. A regular video chat or team meeting helps staff members stay connected and feel less isolated. Leaders who stay in contact with their people become the glue that holds a remote team together. That’s important during a crisis or when a situation changes often. Group chats, texts, emails, and video conferences are great for talking to the whole team, but one-on-one contact is important too. It’s essential to have your finger on the pulse of each team member. Start the day positively, with praise for employees. People always need to hear words of encouragement from the boss, but it’s especially important right now. It’s scary out there.
- Reach out to individuals within the team.
Remote team leaders with larger groups can take it one step further and set up a peer-to-peer communication network that shares the load and ensures no team member falls out of sight. Choose the most mature and dependable folks and deputize them to hold small group video sessions. It’s likely there is someone in your team who has worked remotely at some time. Ask them to share their best practices, tips, and tricks. Encourage as much online interaction as possible and reach out if someone goes silent. In remote teams, individuals may not want to reach out because they don’t want to bother anyone. They may not want to acknowledge they’re struggling so give them private time to ask for help and recover with dignity.
- Encourage feedback.
Communication is a two-way street. Give your people accurate, up-to-date intel, and they’ll return the favor. They’ll tell you about their logistical concerns, technical problems, resource needs, and operational matters. As a leader, you need this information to flow to the command center so you can deploy resources and fix problems. This keeps the process — and the business — moving forward.
- Be respectful and kind.
Remember, our employees are human beings who may be worried and confused. Treat them with respect but also with compassion. Information and access are their only lifelines.
To learn more about managing a remote workforce, join us for our RNI Remote Work Series: You sent them home to work remotely, NOW WHAT?