By Drew Fox Jordan • March 25, 2020

Managing Your Team Virtually

Countless studies have shown that over the next five to ten years, the workplace will become more and more virtual. The progress and availability of software that allows for remote employees has grown. “Ability to work from home” is becoming more a requirement for applicants than a perk of the job. And, with the COVID-19 pandemic forcing employees to work from their homes, this trend is being accelerated.

One of the many challenges that come with remote work is the ability to manage a team while everyone is in a different physical place. You will need to replace daily stand-ups or team lunches, not just for team culture, but to ensure you are still working towards your common goal. Here are some tips to help manage your team from home:

Foster a sense of trust within your team

  • You will want to maintain consistency between how your team operated when everyone was in the office and now that everyone is working from home. Chances are, this will be a big change for many employees. Keeping processes and structures as similar as possible to how things were in the office will prove vital, as big sweeping changes can lead to confusion and frustration.
  • Call out and reward success when a member of your team is successful. Employees will want to feel encouraged by the work they are doing and will appreciate when they are being recognized for their work.
  • It is better to error on the side of over-communicating to foster equality and transparency. Chances are, this is a time of uncertainty for your organization, and your team will have lots of questions. Being honest will be encouraging for them, and help fight the feeling of being isolated.

Remove roadblocks before they become an issue

  • Obviously, some of your processes will change when working from home. But you can give your employees the tools to be successful from home. Take some extra time to become familiar with teleconferencing tools, file sharing apps, or communication methods that will make it seem like no one ever left the office.
  • Block off time on everyone’s schedule to have video conferences early on to keep communications active before they fall behind. Allowing employees to see each other’s home life can build trust and understanding.

    Managing Your Team Virtually

Nurture team and personal connections

  • Maintaining a regular connection with your employees will become essential as face-to-face interactions are no longer available to you. Not every call you have has to be about work, you can check in to see how life at home is, or how they are managing the adjusted work style. If some team members are already working remotely, maintain your regular check-ins with them so they don’t feel like they are being forgotten about just because they are used to this type of work.
  • It is easy to develop a sense of individualism over the team when working from home. Remind your team often that while you are not physically together, everyone’s individual work is contributing towards a team goal.

Manage workloads and deliverables

  • Set clear goals early on to ensure your team is working towards a unified goal. You won’t want to risk having your team misunderstanding the end goal and producing a different result. This ties into the transparency and frequent check-ins that will help provide guidance for your team. Don’t be afraid to provide feedback so you can get ahead of any issues before it is too late to turn back.

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  • Since this will be a different working style for so many employees, make sure you are managing their workload so they aren’t getting overwhelmed and burnt out. Be clear about your expectations for them as an employee in terms of quality and amount of production.

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