Ten top tips for managing remote teams

My first two posts in this series about homeworking during the COVID-19 outbreak covered the legal and contractual aspects that companies need to address and offered tips on holding virtual meetings with your colleagues. Today’s post is aimed at managers of remote teams.

1. Agree ways of working

Make sure every team member is clear about how you will work together remotely, how you keep each other updated, and how frequently.

2. Show the big picture but prepare to flex

Remind your team about the big picture and how their work fits into it. Review short-term goals regularly and adjust as needed. If some members can’t carry out all their usual work, consider other skills they can lend to others to meet team goals.

3. Set expectations and trust your team

Be clear about mutual expectations and trust your team to get on without micromanaging. Focus on results rather than activity.

4. Make sure team members have the support and equipment they need

This includes any coaching they might need to use online systems or work remotely. Keep your calendar visible and maintain a virtual open door.

5. Have a daily virtual huddle

This is essential for keeping connected as a team, to check in on each other’s well-being and keep workflow on track. It needn’t be long, but regularity is key.

6. Keep the rhythm of regular one-to-ones and team meetings

This maintains a sense of structure and continuity for all.

7. Share information and encourage your team to do the same

Without physical “water-cooler conversations”, opportunities to pick up information in passing are more limited. Share appropriate updates or learnings from other meetings and projects and invite your team to do the same.

8. Tailor your feedback and communications

People can be more sensitive if they’re feeling isolated or anxious, so take this into account when talking or writing. Communicate regularly, not just when things go wrong, whether it is information, praise or criticism.

9. Listen closely and read between the lines

Not being in the same room means you don’t have extra information from body language or tone to get the sense of what people are thinking or feeling, particularly in more difficult conversations. Home in on what’s not being said and ask questions to clarify your interpretation.

10. Help foster relationships and well-being

Make time for social conversations. This increases rapport and eases communication between people who may not meet often. It also reduces feelings of isolation.

If you have any questions about managing remote teams, email me or call me on 020 7099 2621.

My next post in this series will offer guidelines for healthy remote working.