Managing a fully remote team is a challenging task, especially if this is the first time you’ve found yourself in the situation.
You need to stay on top of everything; make sure everyone on the team is happy and aligned with the strategy and goals.
This requires all your leadership efforts to be much more deliberate.
Our Head of People Operations, Matus Horvath, shares 7 best practices that will help you successfully lead and manage your distributed team.
Do you apply any of these to your daily operations as well?
1. Encourage members of your team to structure their workdays
Helping people create their work structure goes a long way towards making remote work effective.
Encourage your teammates to spend a few minutes every morning to go through their day, and decide what they want to achieve.
Try running quick 5-minute stand-ups through Slack or Zoom, where everyone shares what they’ll be working on that day.
Take advantage of remote work flexibility – motivate your team to start early and finish early (or the other way around). Whichever will help you and your team have the right work-life balance.
2. Make way for a quality social time
The number one thing that people crave these days, is social contact. Create a virtual “watercooler” space, or “online kitchen”, if you will, where people would normally meet and chat.
Set up a weekly/daily coffee time calendar slot. No agenda, just a space for people to catch up, and share how they are doing.
You can also add a bit of socializing into your more formal meetings and catch-ups. For example, start your call with a round of social updates from everyone, or try one of these virtual icebreakers.
When working in isolation, it is very easy for people to misinterpret messages. That’s why, in a remote environment, over-communication is key.
Communicate and catch up with your team more than you normally would. Provide more context into the tasks and goals, and be clear in your expectations.
Try to be available to your people. Be responsive on Slack, and update your Slack status regularly, so your teammates know when it’s a good time to contact you, or when you’re busy.
4. Keep your 1:1s frequent and consistent
Despite all your efforts to be there for your teammates, a quick message or call here and there might not be enough.
Schedule a regular 1:1 time with the members of your team, and stick to it. Put a recurring placeholder in each of your calendars, so you don’t forget about it.
Also, a good idea is to increase the cadence of your 1:1s. If previously, you sat down with each other on a monthly basis, it might be worth switching to a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Leave some buffer time before and after each 1:1, so that you have a chance to spend some time catching up with your teammates and talking about things other than just work.
5. Take care of your teammates’ mental health
When working from home, people tend to work longer hours than usual. This is not sustainable and can impact your teammates’ mental health. As our Data Lead, Marek Šuppa, said: “The biggest issues we’ll face are mental, not physical.”
Tell your people to take regular breaks for lunch, or go take a walk, and stick to this routine. Motivate them to turn off their notifications and spend time away from their computers.
Burnout is a serious issue during this crisis period, so it’s important that we do everything we can to prevent it.
Be attentive to your teammates’ energy levels. Look out for subtle signs that they are not coping well, and take action if he or she:
- Appears tired, or has issues keeping up with his or her daily routine
- Has negative reactions when interacting with colleagues and clients
- Says he/she doesn’t care about clients (internal/external) as much as he/she should, or would, like to
- Doesn’t deliver, or fails to perform tasks on a regular basis
- Appears to have a minimum of positive and creative moments at work
6. Give and ask for regular feedback
People crave knowing how they are doing and where they stand. On the other hand, they also need to be able to express their feelings and give feedback to you, if they feel like it.
Similar to overcommunication, when managing remote teams, you have to focus more on both giving and asking for feedback.
Regularly discuss what went well and what could have been done better during your 1:1s, or agree on a special slot dedicated to feedback.
7. Secure optimal remote experience
Last, but not least, it’s important that you make sure your teammates have optimal conditions for working from home.
Try sending out a survey in which you ask your people about their remote experience. Ask about their workspace setup, internet connection, video/audio, daily routine, other members of their home, and challenges they are having.
We did this in our monthly pulse check in April, and it really helped us know what struggles people face when working from home.
This will help you take action in order to make your team members’ remote experience as best as possible.
Over to you
We hope these tips have inspired you and will help you with managing your remote team. Check out ways of how you can lead better remote meetings with Slido. If you need a hand, we’re here for you 24/5, so just reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.