Working from home has its own set of challenges as many employees are working remotely for the first time. Getting the hang of everything, especially productivity — takes a bit of time, and remote team managers should commit themselves to providing as much information and guidance to their teams as the onboarding process starts to settle.
As remote work becomes easier as time progresses, with around 68% of hiring managers supporting this claim, the use of software management tools and resources has helped streamline the process of productivity and employee engagement.
Will Your Company Remain Fully Remote?
As a growing number of companies look to remain fully remote, even after the pandemic, issues regarding employee well-being caused by extended periods of isolation, work-life balance, and added stress over job security can become tricky to navigate for teams who are already facing employee shortages, and increased workloads.
Benefits of Working From Home With Remote Team Managers
By now, we’re well aware of the benefits of working from home, and a recent study has found that remote employees work around 1.4 days more per week than their in-office counterparts.
So as remote workers are working longer hours and more days per week, how can hiring and team managers ensure their colleagues are being cared for by the business while considering new ways to help improve best practices for remote workers?
Let’s Break Down the Seven Best Practices for the Remote Team Manager
Conduct Thorough Team Meetings and Checkups
As more teams are going online, hiring managers and employers alike are now looking to bring their teams closer together while remaining remote. However, as one of the most challenging parts of being a remote team, clear communication efforts, thorough team meetings, and regular checkups remain a top priority for employers and managers.
Timely Meetings — and Remote Team Manager Must be on Time
When meetings are scheduled, managers must always be on time, prepped, and ready to answer any questions they are given. Virtual meetings are still work-related and should remain professional, so managers should ensure that all their equipment is working correctly beforehand and conduct regular audio checks.
Private Discussions With Your Remote Team Manager
If a member wants to discuss something in private, take up the opportunity to make a one-on-one phone call with the team member, and help find ways to resolve any issues or queries they may have.
Things to Watch For
It’s now more complex than ever to read the body language of someone when looking at them through a computer screen, and the same goes for their emotions. Thus, as a good practice, managers should conduct routine checkups on their team members to ensure that their productivity is not affected and that in case they need assistance, specific arrangements can be made.
Don’t Be a Micromanager — But UpSkill Your Leadership as a Remote Team Manager
No one has ever enjoyed working with a micromanager, and there are multiple ways you can identify if you or one of your team members have micromanager tendencies. From a lack of leadership, boss-obsessed, and bottlenecking performance due to an increased amount of meetings and administration processes, micromanagers can easily hinder the productivity and overall happiness of their remote teams.
Employees Need Feedback From Their Remote Team Manager
A study by Gallup found that around 26% of employees strongly agree that the feedback they receive from their managers or any other executive team member will help them do their work better.
So, where does this leave the manager? Well, for starters, it’s easy to become too overly involved, and that’s also not a good thing. The key here is to find a balance between being involved in tracking projects and assisting where employees may need additional help.
As a manager, it’s your job to ensure all staff members are on par with the current trajectory and what they should be doing. But, more so, consider how you would feel if you were left to your own devices — having to resolve issues without guidance.
Proactive Check-ins From the Remote Team Manager
Finally, be proactive in checking up and seeing if there are any pitfalls or shortcomings in the current pace of work – if so, what’s the best way to handle the situation? Micromanagement can quickly deteriorate a team, creating an almost toxic work environment for not just a few people but everyone involved.
Use Effective Digital Workspaces
Having a digital workspace that can help improve the online office is an essential aspect that both employers and managers shouldn’t overlook. From creating easy-to-use spreadsheets, implementing time tracking software, or making use of scheduling protocols to improve overall time and project management.
Effective Digital Workspaces and Tools
With the use of effective digital workspaces comes a host of new challenges, as managers should ensure they use a platform or various platforms that suit the needs of their teams. Additionally, these platforms should be user-friendly, have the needed tools and resources to improve workflow, and of course, shouldn’t feel as if employees are constantly being monitored through a digital platform.
Precise Instructions on Platforms From the Remote Team Manager
Managers are in control of how effective these platforms will be used. Thus it’s essential to give a full rundown on how you’d like employees to use these platforms and also ensure a thorough onboarding process for any new talent that joins the team.
The digital workspace shouldn’t be cluttered with unnecessary information or features that can hinder the team’s productivity. Hence, as a team manager, be sure to test out a few digital platforms before making a final decision.
Allocate Team Member Responsibilities
Handing out job responsibilities to current and perhaps new employees is no easy task, especially in the changing landscape of the work environment. To ensure all employees are on board with how a project or undertaking will be completed, your job as a manager should include liaising individual duties and responsibilities.
Have an Employees Duty List That Everyone Can See
With team members scattered and perhaps having a few of them in a different time zone, it might become a tricky scenario to handle. Thus, making a list of each employee’s duties and crafting together the right message will help minimize any missed communications or pitfalls along the way.
What About Virtual Meetings and Communication?
After you’ve communicated with each team member, whether in a virtual group meeting or simply via an email or direct message, make sure that they clearly understand what is being expected of them. Of course, communication is a two-way street, so managers should allow time in their day to receive feedback from team members about issues or any queries they may have.
Be Sure to Create Boundaries for Yourself
Just because you’re working from home or being a team manager doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set healthy boundaries for yourself and others. Likewise, setting boundaries with your team members right from the start allows you to have a healthy work-life balance.
Post Active Working Hours
The first thing you need to communicate is your active working hours; as a work-from-home employee, you may have a lot more flexibility during your day, so be sure to communicate which hours of the day you’ll be available, or unavailable. Secondly, be sure to make your team members understand that you take your days off seriously and that you’re not always present or easy to reach when you’re not scheduled to work.
Check Dedicated Work Spaces
Then you can look at things like having a dedicated working space, not using personal contact numbers for work-related emergencies, or even practice ways in which you can say no. It’s not the easiest thing to consider, but managers often tend to overwork themselves because of their inability to decline any new work.
Yes, Boundaries are a Good Thing
Boundaries are a good thing; your team members should know when they can contact you and when your working hours are — this goes both ways. But, again, this is something that a manager should get on right from the very start, no matter what.
As a Remote Team Manager You Must Maintain a Proper Work Schedule
When it’s time to work, so be it – the rest of the day can be filled with whatever you want it to be. Remote employees can have a bit more leniency when it comes to their jobs, as they can quickly leave their computer for a few minutes to go to the grocery store or grab a coffee. Sometimes, they can even take their work with them while they’re busy traveling or on holiday.
What is a Proper Work Schedule? Ask Your Remote Team Manager
There’s a lot of good and bad when it comes to remote working, and one thing is for sure, having a proper work schedule that works both for you and your team can help eliminate a lot of errors.
Remote Team Managers Help by Leaving Instructions on Burnout
It’s not just that a schedule will help employees be more organized or even have a better idea of what’s going on – it’s a way for them to mitigate burnout. For example, research shows that although remote employees can work from anywhere, they tend to work longer hours than their in-office colleagues.
Train Employees on Correct Workflows
Setting up a schedule helps to determine how the work is done and who’s currently dealing with what. More so, it also gives a clear indication of when deadlines are approaching, employees will have less anxiety over their workloads, and managers will become less obsessive over project deadlines.
Remote Team Manager Can Communicate Clear Goal Setting
Now that we’ve covered most of the best practices, we can look at the last – communicating company goals. This might differ from team to team, or perhaps from the company you’re working at, but having clear goals helps team members better understand what they’re doing and the purpose behind their job.
Yay for Team Goals!
Goals can help increase team effort, productivity, and the company’s long-term success. As a remote team manager, it’s your job to have a clear idea of the company goal, perhaps not for every project as this may differ for each scenario, but there should be a basis on which the team can work and complete tasks.
Final Thoughts on Remote Team Managers
There are various ways remote team managers can ensure that best practices of remote working are adhered to. During the transition process from in-office to online, managers should consider the importance of various best practices and how these can help improve team communication efforts and productivity.
Finally, as a manager, you should make clear and concise decisions on what to include in your best practices, setting boundaries for your members and yourself. While working remote is here to stay, it’s good that you have a well-planned strategy to ensure your team is geared with the right set of tools and work protocols.
Image Credit: Photo by Tim Douglas; Pexels; Thank you!
Carma Khatib is a passionate innovator and product manager with significant experience driving digital products from conception to launch. My mission is to find and create solutions to real-world problems that ultimately impact a company's triple bottom line: People, Planet, and Profit.