Working remote has many perks. Having a dispersed team, however, can be difficult. Managers play a huge role in making sure that everyone is connected and productive. A good, flexible manager can make all the difference when it comes to a successful remote team. In this blog post, we are going to hit 8 different tips for remote work managers. Of course everyone’s style of management is different, but these are just some basic tips to gear your team towards success.
1. One Size Doesn’t Fit All
Everyone has their own working style. One difficulty of remote management is that you miss out on learning an employee’s particular quirks and habits. These things you could usually pick up on at the office. Some people prefer independence, while some like hands-on management. It’s up to you as the manager to work on accommodating these different styles so that everyone feels comfortable. If you are able to help with these different styles, you can maximize productivity in each employee’s own way.
2. Establish & Maintain Clear Remote Communication
Being able to staying connected from a distance is absolutely essential for a team. Not just for keeping each other updated on projects and deadlines, but also simple to maintain the strong relationship that is needed for effective teamwork. Video meetings are a great and easy way to do this. They should be conducted with the entire team at least once a week, like you would have in person update meetings in the office. Video meetings can be much more effective than phone calls/conferences, keeping employees engaged, focused, and aligned.
Other great ways to stay connected to your employees with clear communication are chat platforms such as CallHarbor Inner-Office Chat, Slack, Microsoft Teams, etc. However you choose to communicate, make sure your employees feel like you are available and ready for communication. You don’t want to get stuck in a situation where remote workers feel isolated or out of the loop.
3. Be Transparent About Your Availability
Being transparent about your availability is a very important thing to remember when managing a remote team. A huge perk of remote work is that employees can gain a little bit of work-life balance back. A disadvantage though, is that many remote workers actually work more hours because of how convenient it is. Especially if your remote team is dispersed in different time zones, you have to be transparent about your availability. Setting limits and being open and honest will help to avoid burnout, and make you a better leader!
4. Give Remote Feedback Regularly
As any manager should, you should be checking in with your team regularly. Is everyone doing okay? Are projects and deadlines on track? Does anyone need anything or have questions? Sometimes employees won’t reach out to their manager because they assume they are too busy, so reaching out can help break down that boundary and let them know that you are available for them. Employees should be getting consistent feedback so they know what direction they should be heading, and if they are doing enough.
5. Send Announcements & Updates
Whether it’s an email, a video, or a Slack message, you should be sending out regular updates/announcements. You can even wrap this into your weekly check-in’s or meetings to make it easier. Having everyone up to date and on the same page will create more synergy across the board. Let’s hear from some leaders on sharing news/updates with employees.
“Our entire company gets together at the office every Friday for a free lunch on us. We use this time to vent, laugh and discuss essential company issues and announcements. I find that having a regular, low pressure and open place to address these items results in less anxiety for employees when big announcements are coming up.”– Brandon Stapper, Nonstop Signs
“Since everyone is mostly on Slack and working, I use our company-wide channel to announce these things. That way, everyone can comment or ask questions in a way that others see and can get involved in. This is particularly helpful since most of my team is remote.”– John Rampton, Calendar
6. Show You Care
Make brainstorming remote-friendly. There’s so many choices of software for exactly this purpose. Don’t let collaboration die just because people aren’t physically in the same space. Never cancel one-on-ones. Reschedule if necessary, but try to not make it a habit. Cancelling or constant pushing tells employees you couldn’t care less about checking in with them or things they may want to share during a dedicated chat session. Holding events, happy hours, Christmas parties, or simply making employees feel appreciated will go a long way.
7. Show Your Trust & Be Flexible
Even if some employees prefer regular input on their work, there’s still a line between giving regular feedback and being a micromanager. Yes, it’s hard to visualize everyone working away when they may be on a couch rather than at their desk, but it’s imperative that you trust your employees and show it. Odds are many of them are working parents or live in different time zones than you do. Being flexible and allowing your employees to work when and where they are more productive will help your team succeed, up employee retention, and keep a positive company culture.
“Challenge minds, not schedules.” —Inc.
8. Be Open to Feedback About Remote Management
If you are regularly sharing feedback to your team about their performance, turn it into a two-way street. It’s harder for people to approach managers remotely than a casual desk drop-by when body language and facial expressions allow for more casual conversation. Sending anything via text or even on a video call inherently feels more formal.
Ease worry and tension by reminding employees that we’re all in this together, and you have an open ear to anything you can do to help improve the work environment. We’re not saying tell them every week—that can come off as more of an order than a suggestion. But once in a while in a group video call, throw in a light reminder that you’re open to suggestions and feedback on your management style to keep the team thriving.