Are you still figuring out the ins and outs of being a successful remote manager? To assist, below is a helpful guide with detailed tips to consider and practice.
Over the course of the COVID crisis, record numbers of Americans are working from home. While those numbers have gone down as some return to the office, many teams continue to operate largely via remote work. Some companies have even shifted entirely towards a work-from-home model.
Meanwhile, many others indicate that they would like to preserve the option to work from home even after the pandemic has ended. And many companies seem receptive to changes in how they structure their workplace and work-from-anywhere policies.
Managing these remote teams has been a unique challenge for many project and team leaders. If you’re still worried about helping your workers reach their greatest potential while working remotely, here are seven tips you can leverage to improve productivity and continue to make the most of this difficult situation.
1. Learn to Motivate Remotely (Through Tracking Achievements and Visual Progress)
Motivation is at an all-time low, and burnouts are at an all-time high. Keeping teams on-the-ball and helping individual workers manage their own health and productivity can be exceptionally challenging. And at times, managing a team remotely can feel like being blind and deaf to the needs and struggles of your individual team members.
The first step to effectively motivating your workers is by opening channels of communication and keeping tabs on how everyone is doing individually. Encourage team members to start the day with a group chat or get into a daily or weekly call to get a feel for how everyone is feeling. Keep in mind the importance of having one-on-one face time, especially when discussing more sensitive or personal issues with a worker as they pertain to their work.
Aside from offering a greater number of options for communication, a great way to motivate workers is by being transparent about how a team is doing. Rather than trying to motivate through punishing deadlines or lackluster rewards, consider implementing visual scoreboards, project progress trackers, and visual milestones to help keep everyone’s spirits up. And remind them of how much they’ve accomplished in a short time by coordinating their efforts and collaborating remotely.
2. Keep All Members in the Loop (and Schedule Daily Check-Ins)
Part of making sure everyone has equal and transparent access to how a project is going is making sure everyone’s in the loop. That means making sure every project member or team member is on the same platform, using the same communications tools, and logging their work hours and achievements, respectively.
You don’t have to micromanage or hound your workers to see progress. Competitive and achievement-oriented individuals will respond well to visual indicators of how well they’re doing individually or as a group. And everyone else will feel encouraged to give it their all as they see how their fellow team members are performing. Daily check-ins with the team also give you a chance to discuss metrics and praise exceptional progress or give out group objectives for the day.
3. Get Personal (and Enable Casual Conversation)
There’s always a time and place for one-on-one conversations, especially in today’s climate where it’s likely that a worker needs reassurance that they can privately talk to their manager or leader and request deadline adjustments, time off, or other considerations in order to preserve mental health and improve performance in the long-term.
One-on-one remote conversations between workers and managers are also important for bringing up and discussing issues that aren’t pertinent or appropriate in a group setting and can greatly help motivate and single out workers who need additional help, or are particularly isolated by their personal situation.
4. Avoid Social Isolation (Through Virtual Interaction)
One of the consequences of continued social distancing and quarantining during the pandemic is social isolation – many of us haven’t been able to visit friends or family as often as we usually do, are confined to much smaller spaces than we’re used to, and may generally experience a much greater sense of isolation than ever before.
This can also make remote workers feel isolated from their teams and companies, and impact performance. Virtual and remote interaction and quick, easy, convenient communication is important to reducing this feeling of social isolation, but it need not always be in the context of work.
Helping workers feel connected to the outside world by encouraging them to continue interacting with coworkers the way they might usually do in an office setting – by having virtual watercooler environments, including dedicated chatrooms or virtual teambuilding exercises, from daily stretches and exercise breaks to video games – can help.
5. Encourage a Dedicated Workspace (and Leverage Coworking Spaces)
While remote work has caused many to work longer hours than expected, part of that might be to make up for the perceived lack of productivity caused by the distractions of busy day-to-day household.
Homes are rarely an ideal space for concentrated work, and it’s difficult for many to carve out a dedicated workspace in an already cramped living environment. Even now as schools and workspaces continue to open, finding a quiet place to work away from the office remains difficult.
Coworking spaces can play a significant role here in helping main offices de-densify and focus on maintaining social distancing rules, while providing a productive work environment for many remote workers who cannot concentrate at home, or cannot afford to create their own dedicated workspace.
6. Don’t Micromanage (and Measure Through Accomplishments)
Remote managers who tend to fear the push towards a remote workspace are worried that a lack of control and oversight will lead to plummeting levels of productivity, so they’re drawn towards productivity applications and measures designed to micromanage and effectively spy on workers.
However, these solutions are barely solutions, as they usually only serve to erode trust in a company’s management, create friction and resentment between employers and employees, and bring productivity down. Instead of micromanaging, seek to motivate productivity through transparent metrics, healthy competition, and recognition.
7. Above All, Trust Your Team as a Remote Manager
Trust is an important aspect in any relationship, and it’s especially important in a work relationship. If you can convey your trust in your team members to them, they will reward you by aiming to meet and exceed your expectations – especially if you can give them the sense that they aren’t just working for you, but with you.