Strategies to Manage a Newly Remote Team

With coronavirus spreading around the globe, leaders everywhere are quickly learning to adapt to a new dynamic—and that means business leaders as well. Out of necessity, a staggering number of companies are having employees work remotely, often for the first time. For leaders, the sudden shift to managing a completely remote team can be an added challenge during this already stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few key strategies, you can help your online team remain effective under your leadership.

Lead by example.

Given the uncertainty and stress we are all feeling at the moment, the idea of pressing on as usual can feel pretty daunting. While there’s nothing wrong with you or your people feeling anxious or apathetic in the face of the current climate, it’s also important to remember that your team takes its cues from you. As their leader, it’s more crucial than ever to remain empathetic but firm, giving your team a stable figure in light of the unsettling situation. Show patience, offer support, and listen to their concerns as you move forward.

Get the right technology.

Many businesses were caught by surprise and are not prepared to go remote, so it’s important to make sure your entire team is using the best tools for the job. Most importantly, try to standardize your software: Which chat software will your team be using? Are you working all from the same project management tool? Are you hosting virtual meetings through Microsoft Teams or Zoom? Get on the same page with your people for more cohesive teamwork.

Have daily check-ins.

Make sure to engage your people through consistent check-ins throughout the day, whether these are scheduled meetings, text messages,  or spontaneous phone or video calls. t the absolute minimum you should virtually touch each person daily, which can be a group meeting for all of your people or one-on-one meetings depending on how your organization is structured and how your team tends to work. 

These check-ins will help on several fronts: first, they give employees a sense of stability and predictability, and it also ensures that they know your virtual door is always open if they have questions and concerns. Second, team meetings are crucial to getting everyone on the same page and focused, especially in the context of remote work. Last, these check-ins can help all of you feel more connected in these times of uncertainty. In addition to formal “business meetings,” make sure that you allow for fun and informal conversation—just like you would at the office.  

Help your team prioritize.

Little about this situation is business as usual. This means that your organization’s priorities have most likely shifted, and your people might be struggling to see the big picture. As a leader, your role is to help your team focus on the most impactful projects in the current context. Make sure that you are maintaining your team’s sense of purpose and its core values, even in this new environment. 

After some initial pains, you might find that this remote setup works well. Once you guide them through the early days of this large-scale remote work experiment, trust your people to continue delivering results, and keep checking in as the situation unfolds.

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