Managing Remote Teams 101
Remote working has come to the forefront of managing and leading teams in 2020. For the first time, a lot of managers have had to adapt their way of working to effectively manage their teams from a distance. The decisions and actions made during this time will no doubt affect the way all teams work together and are managed in a post Covid-19 world.
Prior to lockdown, the opportunity to work remotely has been widely unavailable to most. However, with lockdown forcing businesses to adapt to this way of working, Covid-19 has highlighted the advantages of using Remote Teams (which will vary from team to team) such as: increased productivity, greater team autonomy, for some - an interruption free environment, increased loyalty to leaders and reduced costs.
This post will share best-practice we have seen from managing remote teams along with our own experience to provide insight and ideas into how you can better manage your teams from a distance:
Consider your team and what they need to effectively complete tasks when working remotely. If you are not sure what each team member has available to them, complete an audit on the basics such as:
- Equipment (laptops, mobile phones, internet access etc.) - Just because it’s 2020, don’t assume that everyone has their own.
- Software - Does your team have access to ‘in-house’ software required to complete specific tasks?
- Skills & Experience - What skills does your team have? Did you have any new starters join prior to lockdown? Do you have older team members that aren’t as ‘tech-savvy?’
Knowing the capabilities of your team members including what equipment and software they have available will enable you to better delegate tasks to specific individuals for overall team productivity.
Without trust, there is less innovation, collaboration, creative thinking and productivity as people will use their time towards protecting their own interests. To have trust is to believe in another person’s strengths and integrity to complete a task where if the task is not completed, you will be putting yourself at some risk.
When working with remote teams, here are a few ways that you could build trust:
- Lead by Example - Role model the behaviours you want your team to portray. Remember, negative behaviours such as pessimism are just as influential as positive ones, if not more.
- Communicate Regularly - Regular communication will create solidarity amongst the team by keeping them connected and ‘in-the-know’ with new updates.
- Get Personal - Make time to discuss things outside of work to better understand each other’s situation for greater team harmony.
- Don’t place blame - Things will go wrong and when they do go wrong, review, take ownership of the problem and work together on a solution.
Accountability is all about taking responsibility for completing a task, even if the outcome is not the desired one.
Linking back to ‘Building Trust’, placing blame on others for a specific outcome shows low accountability from the person placing the blame. Encourage accountability amongst your team by sticking to the facts, encourage individuals to take ownership and then collectively work towards a solution.
Make Collaboration Easy
“If we were both looking at the same screen, it would make sense…” Sound familiar? In the present day - providing we have internet access - we can utilise software such as Microsoft Teams, G-Suite, Zoom etc. to share, present and discuss our work with our teams in real time. When working with remote teams, you need to utilise software to make collaboration as easy and user-friendly as possible.
At Penguin, we have an accessible drive for both clients and team members to upload and edit documents in real-time. This has resulted in increased productivity and greater collaboration whilst saving time by removing the need for back-and-forth emails or overrun conference calls.
If we ensure our teams have the equipment they need, we encourage a culture of accountability and trust and we communicate and collaborate regularly, this will help teams to become less dysfunctional as a remote team and move them towards high-performance.
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