Managing a Remote Team whilst working from home

Managing a Remote Team whilst Working From Home – Best Practices for 2021

Managing a Remote Team While Working from Home

Working from home was once considered a luxury, something only a special select group of people could do. Now it is mostly out of necessity that many businesses have had to quickly adapt to their employees working remotely.

For businesses who still need a little help managing and empowering their remote work-from-home team, we’ve put together this article to give you some helpful ideas.

[When the team are no longer co-located in the office, how do you ensure good lines of communication and support, and get the most out of your team? Read on to learn more about managing remote working teams]

Some of these ideas are as simple as improving communication between either employers and employees or managers and employees. Others make use of collaborative software like Google Documents, Slack, Zoho, and Monday.

Side note: if you’re in-charge of managing a remote working team from home, then you might also be juggling the wider business management, finances and invoices too. If that’s the case, be sure to check out our AND.CO Review in 2021 – Best for Business Management? which might be of use to you.

Managing a Remote Team – How to manage a remote team

Managing a remote team involves:

  • A lot of regular communication
  • The right use of technology
  • Trust – entrust your employees / your team to do their work
  • Clear and measurable goals
  • Managing expectations
  • Efficient software tools for collaboration and engagement

By investing time into each of these areas it can help you to more effectively and efficiently manage a remote team who are all working from home.

Managing a Remote Team – Provide a sense of belonging

According to a Wall Street Journal study, an important difference between successful companies and less successful, is giving employees a sense of belonging. The study says “a sense of belonging will be increasingly prized by employees, and a crucial condition for fostering innovation.”

[The team might not be sat around the same table, but there are ways you can make them feel connected and part of a company they want to work for]

It goes on to explain why a sense of belonging is so important: “Companies that rank in the top 10% in engaging their employees…posted profit gains of 26% through the last recession, compared with a 14% decline at comparable employers.”

A sense of belonging is as simple as providing:

  • Training to strengthen their weakness and accentuate their strengths.
  • Encouraging their best work.
  • Imbuing employees and their work with a sense of purpose.

Managing a Remote Team – Set clear, measurable goals

Did you know that people working from are more likely to go above and beyond what’s expected of them?

At least, that’s what a study from Cardiff University found. It was thought this was because remote workers don’t want employers and colleagues to think they’re slacking off.

Roughly 40% of people who work from home finish tasks faster than those who work in the office.

In order to set this successful scenario up, employees need obvious and measurable goals. This can be achieved with clear communication: be absolutely clear about each employee’s duties and responsibilities.

[Set the targets, empower your people, trust them, and then get out of the way and let them deliver]

Never assume! Instead, you should talk on a daily basis.

Side note – if you’re working with Freelancers across a digital work platform such as Fiverr, all of this is just as important. Whether you’re remotely managing a team of employees or freelancers, the same best practises apply.

Managing a Remote Team – Improve and prioritise internal communications

Four tips to improve communication are:

  1. Encourage open communication – this is a great way to identify any issues or obstacles.
  2. Review and update employee expectations.
  3. Encourage sharing and discussion of thoughts.
  4. Don’t neglect consistent feedback and recognition

As we said in our previous point – never assume. It only takes a few minutes for a manger to send a message or pick up the phone and have a brief call. This will help employers ensure employees are on track, and it will help employees feel included.

Don’t wait for an employee to reach out to you. This is one of those times when it will have a significant impact if an employer or, at least, a manager reaches out and check-ins with employees.

Improving communications with software

Improving communications can be done with the right type of software. Whether that be in the form of Google Hangouts, Skype, Zoom, Slack, or anther software.

[Software makes effective remote working possible, and even speeds it up and makes it easier. Paired programming and collaborating whilst on video call is one great example of this]

What’s important is that you have a set-up for your employees to be able to easily talk with you and with each other.

Managing a Remote Team – Be proactive and check-in on a regular basis

Daily check-ins and company-wide meetings can be crucial to help everyone stay focused on the goal at hand.

This becomes rather important for remote workers who cannot simply congregate in an area and have a quick 15-minute chat. With a daily company-wide video chat, employees get to see and speak with each other and hash out what needs to be done for the day.

Managing a Remote Team – Make engagement and collaboration more efficient

Greater productivity can be achieved with proper team collaboration. This can be as simple as using Google Docs or Google Sheets, or using software like Slack, Zoho and Monday.

These tools can make team collaboration easier, and in so doing, make it more effective. It also helps to increase employee engagement which in turn keeps employees more involved in what they do.

Google Hangouts is a great way to create group chats which allow teams to stay in touch, share information and have a bit of a laugh.

Never underestimate the health benefits of a good laugh!

How to empower a remote team

Managing a remote team does take some work, but with the right approach and software it is a very manageable task.

[Planning your goals and roadmap in collaboration with remote workers is a great way to get them to ‘buy in’ and get on-board with the work you need them to be doing]

Empowering a team takes more effort. This is less about software and tools than it is about mindset and putting in time with employees.

Some ways to empower a remote team include:

  • Being open to new ideas from employees – both the good, and the not-so-good!
  • Giving encouragement as well as recognising and rewarding good work and ideas.
  • Help develop team members. This can be as simple as one-on-one coaching sessions with them, or giving them access to courses on LinkedIn or Udemy.

Go here for a list of some of the best free online eLearning courses in 2021.

Just following these three simple ideas can go a long way to making employees feel empowered. The benefit of which is employees will become more invested in their work and in the business.

Managing a Remote Team – Be open to new ideas

Being open to opinions and new ideas from team members is a great way to make them feel included and valued. It can be as simple as listening respectfully to someone and giving honest feedback.

[Great ideas come from your colleagues. If those ideas aren’t walking into the office every day or sitting next to you, then you need to work out how to get colleagues to open up and share them]

Even if the idea sounds a little silly or unhelpful, providing constructive criticism and listening will encourage your employees to improve on their ideas, and to keep contributing. Not only that, but it will help to foster their confidence in talking to management or even clients and stakeholders.

This is all beneficial as it can help to make employees more engaged in their work. Especially if a manger is explaining new ideas and concepts that help them to do better work.

If the idea is a good one, then they get the recognition for it. They get to see that yes, indeed they had a good idea and it may be useful to the company. If not right now, then at least at some point in the future. This encouragement and communication will go a long way to engendering good will and a desire to do right by an employer.

Managing a Remote Team – Help develop team members

Encouraging and helping employees to learn new skills has a strong correlation with empowering them. This can be as simple as a holding a conversation with them to educate them in other areas of the business. Or if your company is too big for that to be practical, giving them access to eLearning courses on LinkedIn and Udemy might be a great place to start.

Helping to develop new skills, knowledge and expertise can improve an employee’s output. It will also make them feel more valued, and ultimately more likely to stay at a company.

Recognise and encourage employees

Too often managers don’t recognise employees. And then are confused when their best employees go elsewhere, citing being unappreciated and undervalued. Even if this is untrue, it is the perception that was cultivated through a lack of communication.

And it does seem such a simple idea. If an employee does well, let them know. You’re not trying to inflate their ego or make them seem more important than others.

You’re letting them know they’ve done well. It’s the sort of encouragement and praise that lets an employee know they’re on the right track and that they should continue on the same path.

[Just because colleagues are working from home or remotely and you can’t walk over to see them at their desk, doesn’t mean they should be out of mind and miss out on recognition they’d normally receive in person]

After all, rewarded behaviour is repeated. Recognising and encouraging employees will see them go that extra mile. They will take risks to produce greater results and better overall outcomes.

In Summary – Managing a Remote Team While Working from Home

Managing and empowering a remote work-from-home team is a new challenge for many businesses. 

With the right communication and collaborative software as well as team management initiatives it can be a straightforward and painless process.

You might have noticed that we’ve tried to avoid saying things are easy. Some processes are simple. Some collaborative pieces of software are free and straightforward to use.

But changing your business model to accommodate working from home may not be easy. It is doable, provided you are willing to improve the engagement levels with your employees (if necessary). And, provided that you’re prepared to invest in their professional education.

Investing in your employees is a sure way of showing that you care; that you value them and their contribution to your business.