Remote working is becoming an increasingly popular method of working for various reasons: no overhead costs, flexibility for both staff and clients, or simply because the nature of the business may demand it (i.e. working in area sales where lots of travel is required).
However, this can present its challenges, not least if you are managing a team remotely. How do you manage a team you can’t see? How can you ensure the work gets done effectively?
1. Lead by example
As a manager and leader, you need to be proactive in encouraging your team to communicate and engage. You can’t expect your remote workers to collaborate, discuss projects or share their ideas if you don’t do that yourself.
Get them involved in all aspects of the business. Share the company vision and expectations, and invite them to ask questions and offer up their own ideas/thoughts. This can be done through…
2. Regular contact
Aim to contact your team often. Whether it’s a team briefing at the start of the week, arranging 1-2-1s or more formal meetings, make sure you check in regularly so that everyone is kept in the loop and that they feel supported. There’s a whole host of good online meeting tools available, otherwise Skype or old-fashioned phone calls work well too.
Having said this, it is still a good idea to have meetings in person now and then too. It is important your team feel connected, and even with the best of employees it’s difficult for them to feel a connection to a computer screen or a floating voice.
3. Organise the work
Avoid erratic ways of working by establishing set processes and procedures early on, and utilise a project management system that works for everyone.
4. Use a time tracking tool
This is essential in order to review performance and keep your team on track. There are many different types of time tracking software, including swipe card systems, clock in/clock out systems, geolocation software and background tracking systems. Introduce the tool to your colleagues and help them understand how it will allow them to manage their time more effectively. It should also help alleviate the headache of accurate payroll calculation.
5. Speak to your clients
Check in with your clients to gain feedback about their level of service and their experience of your team. While a timesheet can tell you how many hours an employee has worked on a task, a client can give you an indication of the quality of that work/service. Of course, this should not be solely relied upon: you should have plenty of catch-ups with your employee to know how they are getting on, however it is always useful to hear a different perspective and it will help you improve your business offering and customer service going forward.
Being responsible for managing any team can be challenging, let alone a remote one. However, the core management strategies remain the same and the trick is to know how to adapt and apply them appropriately. Our management and leadership degree programmes at CU Coventry, CU London and CU Scarborough will teach you the expert management know-how needed for today’s diverse workplace.