How to successfully manage remote teams
At present, business continuity will be one of the top priorities for most businesses across the globe. Many organisations will have created a Business Continuity Plan that prepares them for a situation, such as having their entire workforce being home based.
However, if this isn’t the case, we have highlighted a few key points that you can follow to ensure that having a remote workforce will have minimal impact on your business.
One of the most vital pieces of technology that remote workers require is a strong, reliable internet connection. Today many businesses operate in the digital sphere. This means that the majority of activities that keep a business running, such as marketing, sales, customer service, product and engineering, should be able to continue to run as normal, as long as they have an internet connection.
It would be rare for a person of working age to not have the internet installed in their home already. However, if this is the case, it might be worth looking at getting their internet installed. This will ensure that your team can continue to work as normal and your business to function as expected.
There are many studies available which promote the benefits of remote working, such as increased productivity. However, there are still disadvantages that need to be addressed to ensure that your team continues to perform at maximum capacity. One of the main elements that you need to consider is team morale.
We suggest ensuring that the following are in place to help prevent low morale in remote workers:
- Digital group chats. This enables your team to feel connected. The ability to instantly message and interact with others can help to alleviate feelings of loneliness. There are various channels available for this such as Slack, Whatsapp or Skype
- Daily team meeting. The idea here is to connect your team, either individually or as a whole, through a video conferencing call. The ability to see other team members visually, often helps to alleviate any feelings of isolation
- Clarify goals and projects. It can be hard for individuals to understand how to complete certain projects that would normally require teamwork or input from various departments. This is where you need to foster an environment for this to still happen via digital channels and clearly communicate the approach with all team members
- Humanise communication. One of the main interactions missing for a remote worker is personal communication. No one schedules a meeting to discuss how their weekend was or what they had for dinner last night, but these are conversations that would naturally flow if a team were in a traditional office setting. At the start of each day, encourage your team to not just dive in with work-based requests, but humanise their interactions a little more. A quick how was your evening will take a couple of minutes from the working day, but could help to significantly support your team to feel less disconnected
The role of a manager
Managing a team is a key role at the best of times, but becomes increasingly important when managing people remotely. The key to success here is communication. Many of the perceived downsides of remote working can be alleviated by a manager improving and increasing the level of communication with their team. The channel and approach needs to be considered and tailored to the individual. However, using channels such as Google Hangouts, Whatsapp, Slack or text messaging can often help your employees to still feel like they’re part of the team and have a transparent view of the business strategy.
Preparing for the long haul
If you are facing sustained office closures, making sure that you have up to date contact details for all of your team members across multiple channels is essential. Do not rely on any single channel to communicate important messages: leverage email, SMS and messaging apps to make sure that you’re reaching as many people as possible.
It’s also a good idea to have templates set up in your messaging platforms which allow you to send updates quickly, efficiently and with personalisation built in, to further reinforce the human aspect of messaging.
If you need any help with your internal communications strategy in the event of a crisis or emergency, please get in touch; we have worked with many customers to build an effective programme and would be happy to share knowledge.