Remote work is here to stay.
Based on the 2021 Remote Work & Compensation Pulse Survey by Salary.com, 48% of employees have a desire to work fully remote and 44% favor a hybrid work model.
51% of employers who were surveyed support the hybrid work model, but only 5% are saying that a fully remote work setup will be an option. The reluctance of employers to adopt a fully remote workforce is not surprising. Many business leaders are still learning how to effectively manage remote teams over two years after the pandemic began.
In a Sungard AS survey among 200 North American Business leaders, only one in five companies (~21%) are fully confident that their infrastructure security can support long-term remote work. Additionally, research for Society for Human Resource Management (BBC Worklife) found that 72% of managers currently supervising remote teams would prefer to have all their people in the office.
Managing a virtual team demands new skill sets and tools, and what made the transition to remote work harder is that managers were thrown into it unprepared when the pandemic hit. As companies continue to shift, adjust and evolve to a more remote workforce, it helps to know the best practices for managing remote teams.
4 of the best practices for managing remote employees every leader should know:
- Build structure.
Predictability and structure are the top two things that impact productivity in any workplace. In a remote setup, it’s easy to feel a disconnect with your coworkers because you’re all in different places. Create a team rhythm to mitigate this. Here are ways you can create structure in a remote setup:
- Check in with your people individually on a regular basis: Schedule a recurring weekly or biweekly call (whichever works best) so each person feels supported and motivated.
- Have a clear timetable for meetings: If your people are working in different time zones, make sure to rotate meeting times so that the burden of inconvenience of having a meeting too early or too late does not fall on one member every time. Meetings let everyone know what others are doing and give them an idea of their role on the team. Make sure that your meetings have a structure to keep them efficient and to the point.
- Utilize collaborative software: These tools will help streamline your project management systems. All team members must have access to the same information on important projects to avoid hiccups in planning and execution. Some ideas for software that I’ve used and found helpful are Trello, Google and ClickUp.
- Establish clear remote work productivity standards.
Setting standards—whether it’s tracking time, sales or other productivity measures—is essential to keep your processes running smoothly. Make sure to communicate your expectations and standards clearly. This way, you don’t have to micromanage your team. Also, having documentations of the team’s productivity standards will help spot issues and trends that need to be addressed.
- Focus on results, not on what your employees are doing.
Since your team members are in different locations, you won’t be able to manage every aspect of their work. Instead of focusing on how many hours they put in and what they’re doing every minute, concentrate on their output when measuring their productivity. Everyone has a different way that they work best, and as long as your people get their work done and done well, you should be able to feel confident that they’re actually working when they’re at home.
- Set clear expectations early and often.
When managing remote teams, you need to establish boundaries, review the basics and provide guidelines. Those who haven’t worked from home before will have questions, and as their manager, you need to make yourself available to provide clarity on goals and priorities.
It’s important to communicate expectations from the get-go to help your team members understand their part in helping the company succeed. They should also always be le[t in the loop about staffing, policy changes and what’s happening with the company even if they are not physically present in the office.
And remember: business-related messages and requests should only be sent during office hours. This way, you can help your people maintain a healthy work-life balance, especially in a work-from-home setup where lines between work and personal life are increasingly blurred.
Remote teams can be just as successful as teams working under the same roof. In any work setup—in-office, hybrid, or fully remote—you have to focus on your most important resource: your people. Provide learning opportunities, give proper training for new tools, keep your employees happy, make them feel appreciated and be available to support them.
In love and respect,