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How to Manage a Remote Team

How to Manage a Remote Team

Now that many business leaders are embracing remote and hybrid work models as lasting arrangements for their companies, they recognize the need to finesse their approach to managing remote teams. What at first seemed to be a temporary challenge of providing employees with the tools they needed to succeed in their brief stints working from home has become a longer-term initiative aimed at supporting and developing remote employees in sustainable ways.

Whether your company has adopted a fully remote model or a hybrid approach, these tips for managing a remote team may be helpful as you commit to strengthening your workforce and your standing as an exceptional employer:

Connect frequently

The last thing you want is for any work-from-home employee to feel isolated or uninformed, so keep the lines of communication wide open. Schedule regular video calls with remote project teams, departments and/or individuals, depending on the structure of your organization. You can use these calls to share new information, gauge progress, troubleshoot challenges and celebrate successes.

Remember that communication needs to flow both ways, so make sure employees know who to call in the event they need additional support as they’re working from home. When they do reach out, make sure your leadership team listens and responds appropriately.

Demonstrate trust

Let your confidence in your team show by trusting them to make their own decisions about when and where they work, provided that doesn’t interfere with your workflows, production outcomes or security protocols. Perhaps this means allowing employees to work unconventional hours, managing their time around their lives versus standard work hours. If your company has moved to a hybrid model, it may mean allowing employees to decide when they will come into the office (versus mandating specific days) and when they will work from home.

In a 2021 Jabra study of workforce trends, 73% of hybrid workers agreed with this statement: “In the future, having office space will be considered an employee benefit rather than a mandatory way of working.” A majority of respondents also reported feeling that most tasks can be better accomplished from home, but that collaborative tasks are better suited to the office. Forward-thinking business leaders are paying attention to these evolving perceptions about the workplace and giving employees the opportunity to decide what arrangements make them most comfortable and productive.

Set clear expectations

Just like at the office, employees are more likely to fulfill and exceed your expectations when you share them up front and often. Discuss performance expectations and goals with remote employees, along with strategies for achieving them. (The latter may be even more important in the remote environment.)

Then, let them know how they’re doing through ongoing feedback. Commend them for their achievements and make them aware of areas for improvement as early as possible so they have an opportunity to make adjustments that put them back on track.

Upskill and develop employees

Many companies accelerated digital training when the pandemic sent workers home, because it was essential to business continuity. Keep that training going: It’s important to continue refining and expanding employees’ understanding and usage of digital tools, with a focus on cloud computing, cybersecurity and other areas critical to your company’s safe, secure and efficient operation.

But don’t stop with digital. People who work from home still want opportunities to broaden and deepen their skillsets, and to advance in the company and in their careers. If your leadership or industry skills training has in the past been in-person, make its content and activities accessible virtually as well. If you need support in creating engaging, interactive online training solutions, there are many resources available. Search online or check the SHRM Human Resource Vendor Directory.

Provide networking opportunities, especially for younger employees

Though it reported that 83% of employees prefer a hybrid work model, the Accenture Future of Work Study 2021 also revealed an area of concern: Three out of four Gen Zers (workers younger than 25) crave more face-to-face interaction than their hybrid workplace is providing. People in the early stages of their career, after all, need to see how things work, learn from the examples of role models, build relationships with mentors and start making a name for themselves.

Assigning these individuals to project teams with coworkers of diverse ages can help, as can introducing them to networking opportunities beyond your own company. Encouraging younger employees, as well as older members of your team, to actively network can be beneficial not only to their individual development and on-the-job satisfaction but also to your business, as they feel more engaged and empowered, and broaden their professional insights.

Align HR policies with the times

Your human resources team probably went into overdrive when employees were sent home to work, ensuring that health and time-off policies covered pandemic safety concerns as well as remote work protocols. Monitor and reassess these policies so they continue to align with the conditions of your evolving work environment. Supporting the physical and psychological well-being of employees should always be a priority.

Maintain a positive vibe

Make sure employees feel part of the team by reminding them of the company’s collective goals, philanthropic work in the community and vision for the future. Encourage collaboration, innovation and leadership. Celebrate individual and group achievements together, and embrace new ideas and insights from every single team member.

Managing a remote or hybrid team isn’t all that different from managing on-site workers. Open communication, mutual respect and a nurturing culture continue to be the bedrocks of any approach. But mastering the nuances of managing work-from-home employees may give you a meaningful edge as you lead your business and its people into the future.

This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. Any reliance on the information herein is solely and exclusively at your own risk and you are urged to do your own independent research. To the extent information herein references an outside resource or Internet site, Dollar Bank is not responsible for information, products or services obtained from outside sources and Dollar Bank will not be liable for any damages that may result from your access to outside resources. As always, please consult your own counsel, accountant, or other advisor regarding your specific situation.

Posted: February 16, 2022