How to Manage Several Teams Remotely
In 2020, COVID-19 disrupted the day-to-day lives of everyone around the world. Today, the effects from the pandemic still continue to shape our behaviors and how we live. One of the largest behaviors that COVID-19 changed is the traditional work environment. Currently, over half of all businesses globally offer some capacity for remote work – a trend underway prior to COVID-19. The reality is that we live in a world in which remote work has become a part of our new normal. Even as the world continues to reopen fully, employees are looking for ways to continue working remotely. If companies want to succeed with a productive and happy workforce, they must adapt to these new preferences and learn how to manage teams remotely.
Communication is Key
Successful communication in the office looks a bit different than successful communication in a remote environment. Your employees don’t have the same in-office experience where they can tap the person next to them to ask a quick question or receive thoughts on a project. As an alternative, try to replicate the same face-to-face interaction virtually by allowing for multiple channels of communication. Instead of limiting communication to larger meetings and emails, encourage communication through calls and messaging to solve any issues quickly. You may be thinking overcommunication is not necessary, but in a remote environment, it is an important way to ensure everyone is on the same page. Use these best practices to communicate effectively with your teams:
- Be Purposeful – Whether you’re communicating with employees through a video meeting or a quick message, be sure to have a clear purpose. Focus on the intention so your meeting can be impactful and productive.
- Remain Concise – Nobody likes long meetings when they don’t have to be. To keep everyone motivated and engaged, keep your meeting short, concise, and to the point.
- Keep it Relaxed – When communicating with employees, it’s important to be professional, but also casual. This will build a good foundation for open communication, collaboration, and relationship building.
Now that you know best practices for communicating remotely, leverage this knowledge for your check-ins. Regular check-ins are a must in today’s remote-first world. Establishing a regular schedule for one-on-one conversations will help your teams be more communicative about their goals and projects, as well as any tasks that need some attention from a manager. Here are a few good tips to make your check-ins efficient and productive:
- Create an Agenda – You don’t need to stick to a rigorous schedule, but having a loose agenda will help your employees understand what is expected of them during these check-ins.
- Make it Periodical – Depending on the team your employees are on, check-ins might need to be bi-weekly, weekly, or daily. Make sure the frequency of these check-ins factor in the team’s goals, needs, and performance cycles.
- Provide Support – Although check-ins are important for ensuring your employees are on track with their objectives, it’s also great to let them know you’re here to help them develop as an employee. Reserve some time during a few of your check-ins to help track employee development or simply see if they need support.
Remember that these check-ins can be pretty quick – they’re here to help you get up to speed on anything important or just catch up with your employees.
Invest in the Right Technology
41% of remote teams are still left to coordinate via text, Skype and Facebook messenger, instead of being given platforms designed for remote project management. Take time to invest in your remote workforce with messaging and project management technologies that come with mobile app capabilities, such as Slack, Basecamp, and Chatmeter’s Workflow. From there, you can establish regular cadences for any type of communication, whether it’s emails, a simple message, a brainstorming session, or something else. An effective remote-first communication strategy will help your team stay collaborative, motivated, and aligned.
Update Your Company Policies
Are your company policies up to date with the new realities of working remotely? Before COVID-19, only 17% of U.S. employees worked from home. Now, 44% of employees work from home since the start of the pandemic. Whether your teams are fully remote or are hybrid, your company policies need to speak to your company’s current work environment. Effective work from home policies should address common areas such as:
- Working Hours – Working hours are important to address in a remote work environment, since there’s oftentimes more flexibility around scheduled hours. If your company’s rules around working hours differ by team or if there is one rule that applies to everyone, make sure they’re clearly listed in your company policies.
- Cybersecurity & Privacy – When working remotely, employees can be more prone to issues around security, IT, and privacy. Adding in company policies around what employees can do to avoid cybersecurity risks will help mitigate any larger issues in the future.
- Technology – Whether your teams are in-office part time or remote full time, every employee should have access to the same technology & support.
Updating your company policies by addressing these above areas will give your employees clear expectations of their work environment, at home or in the workplace.
Shift to an Outcome Mentality
Are you measuring your employees’ productivity based solely on their activity and time “clocked-in” or on larger results? An outcome-based work culture focuses more on the end results, rather than the process required to achieve it. With an outcome mentality, the leadership team provides employees with a larger degree of autonomy to achieve goals. An activity-focused mentality places a much larger emphasis on monitoring employees based on each task to measure productivity.
Adobe and Southwest Airlines are just two examples of leading organizations who value freedom and autonomy to drive employee performance results – and reap benefits of a great reputation, continuously attracting top talent, and more. Giving your teams the independence to achieve goals in a way that works best for them will empower employees to be more productive, innovative, and successful.
Your leadership and management teams should be using outcome-based management style for a successful remote environment. Give your employees clear goals and results that are expected of them, as well as any resources or training necessary. This will set your team up for success and leave room for your employees to leverage their strengths and creativity.
Allow for Flexibility
80% of consumers are more loyal to employers who offer flexible work. It should be in your company’s best interests to give some room for flexibility – within reason of course. Given that COVID-19 pushed teams into a remote environment immediately, many people were unable to create the right environment in their home. Your team members may share a household with kids or roommates, while others may not have ideal working conditions at home. Some of your teams may be in an entirely different time zone or geographic region. Factor in every situation your employee is in and provide insight into rules around these circumstances, whether it’s for parental duties or work hours for teams in different areas. Taking your employees’ needs and challenges into consideration will facilitate a smoother experience and inspire your teams to work harder.
Since your team is behind the screen now, interaction between team members doesn’t come as easy as the days of being in the office. Encouraging team members to interact with each other is important for building a strong company culture that each employee is proud to be a part of, especially in a work from home setting. Companies can leverage tools like Slack to encourage fun chat channels for employees to discuss mutual interests and get to know each other. Other great ways to encourage connectivity include virtual happy hours, cross-departmental team activities, and sponsored luncheons.
Don’t Be Afraid to Delegate
Managing multiple teams can be challenging, so don’t be afraid to delegate. Whether it’s tasks such as managing local social media accounts or responding to reviews, lean on your other team members to help assist with projects. Bringing in more team members to assist with projects will help leave more room for you to focus on larger goals and ensure completion of timely deliverables.
Managing several teams remotely can be a daunting challenge. However, these strategies mentioned above will help you navigate today’s remote-first work environment and set your team up for success. With Chatmeter, your team can leverage features such as Workflow and the LocationHQ Mobile App to ensure your team is on the same page no matter where they are working from. To learn more about how your remote team can scale its success with Chatmeter, speak to an expert today.