8 Tips for How to Manage a Remote Team Like a Boss

8 Tips for How to Manage a Remote Team Like a Boss

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You’ve yet to manage a remote team.But, your organization’s just made the announcement: Amid coronavirus-related public health concerns, your office is shifting to full remote work. Here’s the kicker: Your team has never worked from home before and neither have you.Let us help put your mind at ease.

Here are our 4 key philosophies for making remote teams thrive, plus 8 actionable tips.

Remote managing win #1: Over-communicate, and make your online presence felt

Good communication is the #1 key to successful remote work. Active communication ensures that you and your team are aligned on deadlines, challenges, and everything else that matters in the office. 

For example, turn up your activity  on Slack  and  look for your team members  to do the same. It can be really easy to just go dark online  and then come back three weeks later with a bunch of crazy projects. Don’t do that. Be present online, be communicating.

So how do you facilitate that, especially with introverts or junior employees who might not be as comfortable speaking up?

That’s part of the job for a remote manager.. Set your expectations for communication up-front. Sometimes you do have to nudge people. Encourage them to  come out of their shell, to try to talk a little more. Recognize that it’s not easy for everybody. Be sure to model the communication you want  to see, and include different modes, like chat and Zoom.  Make it fun.

Action items:

  • Exercise remote communication tools. If your company doesn’t have them already, set up both a team-based chat client (like Slack or Discord) and a video-based client (like Zoom or Google Hangouts) for face-to-face meetings.
  • Make your expectations clear. Before your team goes remote, establish your expected working hours and communication levels, and model that behavior online. (Consider sharing  a “manager readme” explaining your working style with all new members of your team.)

Remote managing win #2: Meet about things other than just work

So you’ve established your regular meeting cadence online. But the work isn’t done yet. Because our office social lives are more than meetings. Water cooler chats, conversations over lunch, and little hellos in the hall are part of our social web — and without them, it can be easy to feel emotionally isolated.

That’s exactly why you need to supplement with face-time programs like Zoom when you manage remote teams.  Consider stand-ups with your team through Slack and/or Zoom every day. It helps you get a feel for how each person is doing — to see their faces, if they’re looking sad or depressed. It’s important to communicate at whatever level you can. It’s crucial for personal (and organizational) survival.

Once a week, invite  the entire team to a get-together via Zoom where they don’t talk about work. At all.

It’s important to take the time to just say, “Hey, how’s it going?” and find out what (and how) people are doing outside of work. Play fun remote games together, like quiz games or Bingo. Or you can just use the time to catch up. It’s critical for keeping your team together.

Action items

  • Establish daily stand-up meetings through Slack, Zoom, or whatever tool is the best culture fit for your team.
  • Make time for fun. Besides the weekly social gathering on Zoom, actively cultivate a fun workspace for your team. For example, if your team culture thrives on emojis and GIFs, lean into it.   Create little challenges, like communicating in emojis or GIFs for a morning.

Remote managing win #3: Measure the same work milestones you’d measure in the office

A common question for both employees and managers transitioning to remote work is: How do we ensure we continue to meet deadlines and goals?

It’s simple: keep measuring the same great things you measure in the office.

Technology’s made it easier than ever to manage a remote team. Employee experience platforms like WorkTango are increasingly agile and easy to use, enabling teams to set and track goals, share feedback, give recognition, and stay connected, even across long distances. 

With today’s technology, we’re seeing less and less of a barrier for any job to be remote.

Action items:

  • Clearly define your success metrics. It’s hard to track outputs if you don’t know what they should be. Take this opportunity to think about how you define success in the office (i.e., deadlines, website traffic, sales, and more) and communicate your expectations to your team.
  • Assess your tech solutions. In a time of uncertainty, let automation take some of the work off your plate in setting goals, asking for feedback and more. An all-in-one solution like WorkTango can do the heavy lifting, freeing you up to focus on managing your team for success.

Remote managing win #4: Develop a philosophy of trust

One of the most frequent anxieties   for people who’re about to manage a remote team? “How will I know if my employees are actually working?”

This actually has nothing to do with managing a remote team, and everything to do with trust.

If you don’t feel comfortable with somebody working remotely, you need to think about whether there are trust issues with that employee that go deeper than the particulars of their work environment. You shouldn’t have to be looking over their shoulder while they’re in the office– and you shouldn’t have to do it when they’re remote, either.

Have a frank conversation with your team — but first, take the time to think about what you’re doing to contribute to a psychologically safe workplace, and equip yourself with the tools to create a culture of trust.

Action items:

  • Initiate fearless feedback. Resist the urge to micromanage or install creepy surveillance software. Instead, institute regular 1-on-1 Sync-Ups (not just when you need to issue corrective feedback), and make sure feedback goes both ways. We’ve got more tips here.
  • Track the metrics that matter, and let the rest go. If your people are communicating clearly and meeting goals and deadlines, what’s not to trust? If you still don’t feel comfortable, do some deep digging to figure out why.

You’ve got this.

Going remote doesn’t mean everything’s about to change — at the heart of it, your work is still your work, and your relationship with your team members is still based on trust, communication, and a shared commitment to success.