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Managing your team remotely

Tess,   3rd September 2020

Managing your team remotely

The move to remote working, which started as an experiment, has become the ‘new normal’ for many companies.

The shift has required managers to adapt to a new way of interacting, motivating and managing their teams.

The issues are new and there is no text book to follow! It is understandable if you feel out of your comfort zone and need some guidance. In this blog we share some of our thoughts on managing a team remotely. We also share our top tips to overcome any challenges you may face.

Challenges of managing remote employees and what you can do

There are many challenges of managing remote employees. The biggest being that they are all individuals and they all respond differently. Some relish the independence and the flexibility, some struggle with self-motivation and lack of structure. One size almost certainly won’t fit all.

Below we’ve listed the top 4 challenges managers and team leaders have discussed with us and our thoughts on how to combat these issues when managing your team remotely:

*1 Motivation and productivity

Working from home can have a huge impact on motivation and productivity. Employees don’t have team members close by to boost morale and managers aren’t close by to check in and ensure work is being completed. Therefore, employees rely on themselves to get things done and some people miss not having the energy around them.

What you can do to help:

Being a manager or team leader means you need to ensure you’re there for your team. Not just waiting for a call but checking in with them. Although it’s quicker to pick up the phone, we’ve found seeing people in the flesh sometimes tells you more about how they’re feeling. This is why video call is useful.  Tools such as Trello boards are a great way for staff to know what is expected and whether they have achieved it. It’s not so much big brother but an opportunity to give positive feedback when someone has stuck with it and completed a task.  

*2 Communicating with your team

Formal communication has fairly seamlessly transferred from physical meetings to online meetings. Ad hoc interaction is sorely missing – the opportunity to bounce ideas off each other, share a joke, update on news. It can also be difficult if you have introvert employees who you know wouldn’t usually reach out for help to know they are included in the loop.

What you can do to help:

At GB Solutions we have found our group WhatsApp chat perfect for sharing job leads, industry gossip and updates on family, kids and friends. LinkedIn is also a great way for us to share successes and shout-out to our wider community. Social media allows us to bounce ideas off of each other and catch-up at the same time.

*3 Working on different schedules

Remote working has brought a great deal of flex, so your workforce may be working at different hours of the day, rather than the usual 9-5. As a manager you need to ensure you are supporting your team, it’s a fine line between micro-managing and knowing your employees availability throughout the day.

What you can do:

Use outlook to block out time. Maybe you will come up with this schedule yourself, ie. 9-11 every day, or maybe you allow your employees to decide. Either way asking the employee to input their working hours for the week into their outlook calendar will be a great help and alleviate the frustration of missed calls. Equally if staff are working on mobiles, they can turn their mobiles off when they are ‘not at work’.

*4 Building trust with your team

Although we’ve known each other for a while at GB Solutions there’s always a question of trust. It’s important to understand that trust isn’t just given. It will be especially difficult for managers and team leaders who are new or don’t have a great rapport with their team. Showing them that you are there for them and will pick up work for them when the crunch is on, helps people come to rely on you and build that trust.

What you can do:

Be transparent with your team, they’ll appreciate it. If you’re struggling with the pandemic, say you are, if you’re finding it weird working from home, own it. Your team will appreciate your honesty and may share some of their tips for managing this brave new world for a more positive new norm.

A summary on how to manage your team remotely

Remote working is still new for a lot of businesses and is a steep learning curve for many.

Remote working is new for GB Solutions too but by looking at ways to improve and listening to employee feedback we’ve made some positive changes but if you’d like to share your experiences with us then do drop us an email – hello@gbsolutions.co.uk.

Furthermore, if you are looking to fill any remote working opportunities then get in touch. We can discuss ways for you to introduce new starters remotely We hope to speak with you soon.