How to manage your remote team successfully while social distancing?
- 31 March 2020
- Written by: Yves Bemelmans
- Category: Procurement
An efficient remote team requires the right technology but most importantly the right leadership.
With the Covid-19 outbreak, workplaces have been disrupted at an alarming speed. Within weeks, employees have been asked to start working at home without any kind of preparation. This has led to virtual teams which is a first
experience for many. There is no doubt that managing a team during quarantine without any face-to-face communication and the structure of a normal workday is a challenging circumstance for numerous managers.
This new way of working involves pressurized conditions, heightened uncertainty, and an overall sense of dislocation make everything more complicated. So the manager’s role becomes more difficult and expanded. Adjusting to this new management style includes various factors to make it successful.
Here are some recommendations for supporting continued learning and the emotional well-being of your employees during this time of crisis:
Review your expectations
Normally, most teams are socialized and used to a systematic way of working which means that they work in the same office, under the same working conditions, with the same work schedule. The best thing managers can do in a quarantined environment is to help their teams change immediately to asynchronous work and personalization. The main thing to do is to reset expectations for how work gets done. For instance, letting go of when and how tasks are accomplished and allowing team members to undertake their responsibilities on their own terms. The emphasis needs to be placed on results and offering more flexibility.
Stay in regular touch
Research has proven that shorter communication cycle times are more effective in building and sustaining morale and engagement. A good practice is to use instant messaging to stay in regular contact. Check on your employee every day, ideally by video and giving every participant the opportunity to lead the meeting. Be clear and make sure that everyone understands that he/she needs to be present and not distracted. In short, the manager is required to set the example as a virtual team player.
Go for eLearning training courses and keep it short
Take this opportunity to train your employees through eLearning methods such as microlearning, scenario-based video training and webinars. Identify where your employees need improvement and go for an LMS platform where they can access their eLearning courses with just a click. For example, scenario-based videos will focus on real job situations, which will prepare employees for any professional challenges in the future. To make it more interesting, lessons can be followed with discussion among team members through video calls.
Rely on proxy indicators such as tone and voice
Emotional cues are definitely harder to read when you are not face-to-face. The best thing to do is to rely on proxy indicators such as text, voice, and infrequent video communications rather than relying on non-verbal data and body language. The key is to take into account patterns in the tone of written communication – rate, volume, pitch, and inflexion of voice communication as well as any physical gestures in video communication. If you notice changes in these patterns, it will help you recognize whether a team member may need some additional support.
Encourage optimism and eliminate fear
Optimism is what will keep the team going. Demonstrating hopefulness and confidence will surely help employees find purpose in their work especially under stressful conditions. Adding some humor from time to time to keep the remote team engaged will also help greatly. It is a good time to encourage your team to use the quarantine conditions as a stimulus for new ideas.
Update as much as possible
Avoid uncertainty at all cost, as it is what leads to anxiety. Keep in mind that the more you communicate and share, the less there will be doubts and information vacuum within your team. Try to communicate regularly despite not having new information to share. A good practice is to also maintaining transparency as much as possible through a crisis. Frequent updates is the ultimate expression of good faith, empathy, and genuine concern for your team.
Constantly monitor stress and engagement levels
Make sure your remote team members understand that your main concern is their welfare. It is important to gauge their engagement by asking them to rate their stress level and their overall engagement levels. It is a good idea not to rely only intuitions. Instead, try to get quantitative information by asking them questions directly.
A newly remote team during this time of crisis can prove to be beneficial if leaders know how to manage the team effectively. Remember that employees need to feel included and safe while working all without fear of being embarrassed or penalize in some way during the quarantine period. Working under the good conditions mentioned in this article will definitely allow employees to continue to perform and contribute to the organization.