Simple Tips for Leading a Remote Workforce

Mar 17, 2020

From Inc. Magazine:

Working from home has become a stark reality for millions of Americans as businesses large and small move to close offices to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, countless team leaders are now responsible for leading their teams from afar. It can be tough, and most teams didn’t have time to prepare for their weird period of time. Here are some tips that may help you and your team do this successfully. 

1. Check-In Daily 

Whenever possible, check in with a one-on-one, face-to-face video conversation. You can only go so far with phone conversations, email, and Slack. Your team needs to see you, and you need to see them. The good news is that services like Zoom or Google’s Team Hangouts make this relatively easy. Set the agenda and provide the feedback and resources your team members need.

2. Communicate

This is a given. Be in regular communication. The sense of isolation can be one of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you’re used to an office environment. That’s especially true considering that many people are practicing social distancing. 

3. Maximize Technology 

Your job is to keep your team connected, and communication tools are a simple way to keep everyone engaged. Tools like Slack are far better suited for collaboration and communication. Some of those collaboration tools are even available for free right now.

SEE ALSO: Tips & Recommendations for Small Businesses Amid COVID-19 Crisis

4. Manage Expectations

Help your team figure out what they should do and create realistic expectations for their work. Managing expectations also applies to you as a manager. Set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating both the tasks and the reasons behind them, and help your team understand exactly how you will measure success. Define scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. 

5. Focus on Outcomes, Not Activity

It’s not possible to manage every aspect of the work done by a remote team. For what it’s worth, you shouldn’t be trying to manage every aspect of any team’s work, but especially when your team is distributed across different locations. Instead of focusing on activity or hours worked, focus on the outcomes and measure your team accordingly.

6. Resource Your Team

Make sure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. If you suddenly have a team of remote workers, that means there’s a good chance they need tools like laptops, software, mobile devices, or even a high-speed internet connection. It’s not reasonable to assume that everyone has all of those things, and it’s your responsibility as a manager to make sure they do. 

7. Be Flexible

Understand that, especially in the current environment, your team has a lot going on. That’s not an excuse for not getting things done, but it is a reason to reconsider what productivity really means. Punching a clock for eight hours is out. Regular work hours are also probably out for many people. Instead, trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. That’s good for your team in the long run anyway.

SOURCE: Inc. Magazine, “7 Tips for Successfully Managing Remote Teams,” Jason Aten