8 Best Practices for Managing a Remote Work Environment
Remote work has long been hailed as the future of much of the workforce. And recently, remote work has become increasingly popular in light of a global crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a swift leap forward for many companies. For many leaders, this has meant learning how to manage a remote work team for the first time.
Are you managing a remote team? Do you need more strategies to help you motivate and encourage that team? Consider these key best practices of remote work and managing a remote team.
1. Make sure you have the right tools
Remote work relies heavily on technology. Start by reviewing the technology solutions your business was previously already using. Consider how many of them are still easily available to employees working from home and which may be more difficult. Additionally, what new tools should you offer for remote employees?
Take a look at our recommendations and consider these categories:
- Video chat and conferencing options
- Remote collaboration tools
- Cloud storage or remote access to your systems
- File-sharing software
- Security solutions
Talk to your IT team about what tools your employees need to work from home effectively. An investment now can pay dividends in the future by providing increases to efficiency.
2. Train employees effectively.
If you’re onboarding new employees who will be expected to work remotely, they likely have an onboarding process that involves:
- Learning the basics of your organization
- Adopting the tools that your team uses every day
- Learning how your company accomplishes basic tasks
- Developing an understanding of what they’re expected to provide for your customers and colleagues
What needs to be adapted to make remote onboarding effective?
And don’t forget about the existing employees. Even long-time employees may need additional training to help make the shift to remote work. Newly remote employees may need training to:
- Learn how to use remote technology effectively
- Maintain security on their personal networks
- Respond to new customer concerns or challenges related to the remote work environment
Make sure employees feel comfortable working from home. This may mean instituting consistent training, providing access to virtual modules, or assigning employee mentors for guidance. Switching to working remotely is tough for those not used to it and resistant to it. Embracing proper training and the right attitude can help ease the transition.
3. Be strategic about your communications.
Today’s employees are increasingly distracted. While a remote work environment is often more effective, opportunities are present for background distraction.
As part of your remote management tactics, make sure that you aren’t adding to employees’ distractions.
While communication platforms help provide instant information, they can also add distractions. Consider what communication tools are necessary and which ones are increasing distractions.
Be careful not to over-correct and remove it completely. Communication has a significant impact on company culture while working remotely.
4. Connect regularly with your team members.
When you make the shift to a remote work environment, be much more deliberate about connecting with the members of your team. You can no longer simply walk down the hall and stick your head in through the office door. Instead, schedule regular status updates and check-ins.
Hold team meetings and individual ones with the members of your team. Some challenges require collaborative input, while others are more easily addressed 1:1. Increasing 1:1 communication also helps identify the engagement and health of your team.
5. Avoid excessive meetings.
We’ve all been there. Sat through a meeting, if not multiple, that was completely unnecessary. One where an email would have been just as effective, if not more so.
With the change to a remote work environment, it can be tempting to use meetings as a crutch. Need a status update? Have a meeting. Have an in-depth announcement? Schedule a meeting.
Yet those meetings can quickly become a time and energy drain for your employees. They can distract the team from other, more important tasks that need attention.
While connecting while remote is important, be intentional about your remote meetings. Increase guidance around meeting structure, flow, and agendas. If you are ever in doubt, if you wouldn’t have had a meeting about something in a physical work environment, then don’t have it virtually.
6. Offer opportunities for connection.
In a physical office environment, opportunities exist for employees to connect with one another on a more personal level. A chance to loosen up and chat between work meetings and priorities. You might have had company-sponsored lunches, or you might have gone out for drinks together after a hard day at work.
In a remote work environment, you must be more deliberate about those connections. Host virtual events that will give employees a chance to connect. These opportunities for connection can substantially streamline work communications and interactions.
7. Maintain a Focus on Strategy
In the midst of chaos, strategy guides an organization. It’s the rudder that steers an organization to success. And strategy without execution is a lost cause. While working remotely, find ways to maintain and even increase your focus on strategy and execution.
A primary issue of executing strategy is the manual process for collecting updates and reporting progress. Find ways to improve your process for collecting updates. Without status meetings, automate the update collection.
And don’t forget about reporting progress to the team. Strategy can be a motivating factor for individuals if they feel tied to organizational goals. But without any insight into progress, it often feels fake or unimportant. Find ways to communicate progress and updates to the rest of the organization.
8. Accommodate flexible working times.
When you manage a remote team, some of your team members are going to work at different times. For some, it’s a case of time zones. For others, it’s simply a matter of when they can most effectively and conveniently complete work.
By accommodating flexible working times, you can enable team members for success and provide them with the tools they need.
Making the shift to remote management can be challenging. Our hope is these best practices help make the transition to remote work management easier.
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AchieveIt is the platform that large organizations use to get their biggest, most important initiatives out of the boardroom and into reality. Too many great ideas never quite make it across the finish line, because there’s no real way to keep everyone on course and keep everything on track. What does it take to actually guide these initiatives all the way through to completion? You’ve got to:
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