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Good remote management is a multi-faceted skill that’s both similar to and different from good in-person management, and remote management during a crisis like COVID is different again from remote management as a long-term way of life. It’s essentially up to the manager to build the virtual workplace, and to inspire the team to build it with them.
Trust Your Staff - Trusting your people is step one. It’s understandable to worry about their ability to get work done without you keeping an eye on them, but resist the temptation to micromanage as it will only damage morale, and you definitely won’t be popular if you use monitoring software to track their activity. People work best when they feel trusted.
Set Expectations - Set clear and realistic expectations around each person’s tasks, priorities and deadlines. Focus on outcomes rather than hours spent.
Be Visible and Approachable - Have regular 1:1s with each team member, and communicate frequently and openly. Don’t feel you have to be available around the clock. In fact, it sets a good example if you have your “do not disturb” sign on at times, but make sure everyone feels that your virtual office door is open when you’re there. If you need to explain something or clear up a misunderstanding, it can be quicker to jump on a call than bat messages back and forth.
Prioritise Feeling Connected - It’s important for team members to feel as though they are connected to leaders, so reschedule regular meets where they can ask questions and gain clarity on any recent changes. Regular team meetings are the ideal way to help minimise the feeling of disconnection amongst staff, especially those who work remotely. By using video conferencing tools, everyone can join the meeting and feel connected as a team. This often works better than long email threads and sending documents back and forth for a large project.
Be Perceptive of Your Workforce - As a modern manager, you should read the body language and facial expressions of your staff. Not only does this help you to understand their mood, but it can help to avoid conflicts and resolve disputes between team members. A lot of communication is missed via telephone conversations, which is why video conferences are often the better choice for regular team meetings. Though it can be difficult to read someone’s body language via video, paying close attention to each individual should give you an insight into their thoughts and feelings.
Be Consistent with Rules - Regardless of whether staff work in an office or remotely, everyone should have to follow the same rules. Put these in place and be consistent, ensuring that everyone is following them correctly. This includes things such as treating company information as confidential and using the agreed tools for communication.
Set Clear Working Hours and Boundaries - You should encourage employees to stick to a regular finishing time, and highlight that working into the evening regularly isn’t necessary. A lot of employees blur the boundaries between work and home life by working late, and sometimes they need reminding of the importance that comes with logging off and unwinding. If anyone is struggling with this, offer time management tips.
Fill the Social Gap with Technology - There are a lot of benefits that come with colleagues being able to socialise with one another, but this becomes more difficult when some people work remotely. To fill the gap, embrace technology such as group chats to encourage team members to interact when they need to. There are a lot of tools and platforms available for staff to collaborate on.
Focus on Onboarding - When it comes to equipping a new team member with everything they need at the company, onboarding is key. As a modern manager, you need to create an onboarding process that goes into detail about what the individual can expect from their working environment. Onboarding is critical in the first few weeks at a nice job, as it helps an employee to settle in and get to grips with working somewhere new. Good onboarding has been linked to productivity, happiness in the workplace and increased staff retention. To help with onboarding, you could pair a new recruit up with an existing member of staff.
Though there are certainly challenges that come with managing a hybrid or remote workforce, it’s something that’s easy to manage with the right planning. You need to have faith in your staff, and trusting them to do their job whilst communicating with you is key. By setting expectations and goals at the beginning, you will have the best chance of managing a successful workforce from wherever they are.
This blog article is taken from our latest whitepaper “Top Tips for the Modern Manager”
Whether you are a manager or a recruiter of managers, you need to be aware of how top performers are meeting the changing needs of the role and the workforce. After speaking to our candidates and clients and conducting extensive research in to what makes a great manager, this white paper examines five winning strategies for the new modern manager, which run the gamut from high technology to deep human connection.
The whitepaper includes;