There’s been a lot of talk about how working remotely has affected workers and changed the way that they do things. We’ve written about it several times.
Unfortunately though, very few people spare a thought for the poor managers out there!
Just like the rest of your team, being forced to work remotely has changed the game for managers.
Instead of being able to just pop your head in and ask your team members what they’re up to like you used to be able to, now you have to contend with issues like:
- Patchy connections
- Software not working
- Distractions like kids
- Delayed response times
There’s been a lot of trouble adjusting to the new way of doing things – luckily, it doesn’t need to be difficult. With the right system in place, you’ll be able to manage your team just like you used to (almost).
So, what can you bring into your remote management setup to speed?
A Melbourne recruitment agency shares 6 tips to help you manage your team remotely
1) Think about your project management system
Managing tasks is pretty straightforward in a physical office – if there’s ever any confusion, resolving it is usually a quick simple matter.
That’s not always the case when working remotely.
Keeping track of what’ tasks and projects are coming up and who’s responsible for them can be challenging when there’s distance between you all. That’s why it’s so important that you have some sort of task or project management system in place.
It can be as simple as a shared spreadsheet that lists out projects and tasks, as well as who’s responsible for them, as long as it works!
If you want our recommendation however, we suggest setting up a dedicated project management system.
There are a range of affordable project management platforms out there that you can use to organise tasks and projects such as Teamwork, Basecamp, Monday, and more.
2) Have you looked at time-tracking software?
It’s pretty straightforward to see if your team is on-task and working in a physical office – just poke your head in the next room and ask everyone what they’re up to, check in with the IT department about internet usage or simply take a look at what’s on their screens.
Unfortunately, it gets a lot harder to do this when you’re spread all throughout the city (or country!)
Luckily, there’s an app for that.
Time-tracking software like Time Doctor don’t just track the minutes – they can also integrate with many project management tools as well, allowing you to see how much time has been spent on specific tasks or projects.
If you bill by the hour, this is something you need to look into as a manager. Trust us, the higher ups are going to love it!
Not only that, but it’s also just a great way of seeing how your team’s performing without direct oversight (just remember to give them some leeway – for example, those who are taking care of the kids, too.)
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of hours…
3) Be flexible
We’re currently going through some tough times, and many of your team members aren’t going to be able to focus all their attention at work.
And we aren’t just talking about “sharing” their workspace with kids who are studying from home, either – it could be anything from preparing lunch for the kids, or their partner who is also working and conducting meetings in the same space.
There are distractions aplenty when working from home – something you’ve no doubt experienced yourself.
Because of this, it’s crucial that you’re flexible with your team and forgiving if their output isn’t quite as high as it normally is.
If you start to notice some signs, we suggest talking to them first – odds are, it’s because of something that’s largely out of their control.
4) Enforce hours
While it sounds somewhat tyrannical – like you’re chasing up your team to hit an 8-hour target – if you ask us, this is actually one of the best things you can do for your team!
One of the problems with working from home is that the line between work and home life can become blurred. It isn’t uncommon for team members to think “I’ll just stay on for a few more minutes to finish up” and end up staying for an extra hour.
Some have even reported spending an extra 3 hours at work each day!
Work-life balance is important not just for output, but for employee health and wellbeing. It’s especially important during stressful and challenging times like these.
As a manager, you have a responsibility to ensure that your team is well-rested and not overworking themselves. And that starts by making sure that nobody goes too far over their set work hours.
You might even like to suggest a wider “working window” to complete their required 8 hours – so say from anywhere between 8am to 6pm (rather than the traditional 9 to 5) they can complete their time, giving them the flexibility to duck in and out more frequently to deal with things like kids or pets.
5) Review and troubleshoot
The problem with relying on technology to communicate with your team is that, well, tech has a habit of not working when you need it to – often at the worst possible time as well!
Whatever system you’ve chosen to substitute for the old way of doing things, it’s important that you troubleshoot and perform regular reviews of how it’s working for you.
We suggest bringing your entire team together and asking them:
- How the system is working for them
- Whether they’ve had outages or issues
- If they’ve noticed any limitations with the system
- Areas your communication system doesn’t cover
What’s more, we suggest having one of these meetings every month minimum – after all, there are many problems that might not feel like big issues at the time, or only arise with extended usage.
It’s especially important to do this every time you add something new to your communication system. For example, if you’ve recently switched instant messaging systems, or you’ve decided to add time-tracking to your remote working arrangement.
We get it, it isn’t quite as natural as it used to be when you were all under the same roof – however, that doesn’t change the fact that communication is a key part of what separates good managers from the rest!
Whether it’s keeping tabs on what your team is up to or simply dropping in for some idle chit-chat to see how they’re going, it’s essential that you keep your lines open when managing a team remotely.
While we’re here, we’d also like to talk about email overload.
We’ve all been there, when your inbox gets so full and bloated or the messages are coming in so quickly that important information slips between the cracks, never to be read.
It’s bad enough already as it is – now add in the fact that the amount of emails they’re getting has skyrocketed, and you’ll see why it’s so important to have an alternate channel with your team!
We suggest using a different system for internal communication:
- Instant messaging
- Regularly-scheduled video calls
- Dedicated business communication platforms like Slack
And if you notice that it’s a subject where speed is of the essence, don’t be afraid to set up a quick video call to get the message through quicker.
While you may not end email overload, you’ll at least be able to ensure that you aren’t contributing to it!
It’s tough, but it can be done – we really are all in this together!
While business lockdowns might be slowly coming to an end, there’s a change in the air.
Even when things go back to normal, expect at least some of your team to demand more work flexibility now that they’ve gotten a taste for it.
And when this happens, you’ll need to make sure you’ve got the right systems in place to continue effectively managing your team remotely.
Just remember that at the end of the day your job is still the same – all that’s changed is the tools and the medium.
While you might be doing it online now, you’re still here to:
- Ensure that your team has the tools it needs to do the job
- Look after your employees’ health and wellbeing
- Make sure your team has what they need to get the job done
- Ensure that goals and targets are being met
- Get things done within the allocated time frame
- Fix problems and settle disagreements
And of course, it involves ensuring that your team has the people it needs to get everything done.
If you’re looking to add to your team during lockdown, we can help.
We’re one of the best recruitment agencies in Melbourne thanks to our focus on connecting you to the right applicant for the job.
Instead of just looking at years or experience, our Melbourne-based recruiters focus on personality traits and soft skills as well, ensuring that you choose someone who’s a perfect fit for your organisation, no matter what it is that you do.