Working outside the office has become more widespread, whether in telework or remote work (100% remotely, when and where you wish) mode. These new methods of working are forcing managers to rethink how they manage their teams. What good practices should you apply when managing a team remotely? Here are eight tips for getting the best out of your telework or fully remote team.
- Use the right communications tools
- Combine formal and informal meetings
- Set guidelines to protect your employees’ right to disconnect
- Ensure transparency
- Trust your team
- Prioritise management by objectives
- Boost your employees’ commitment
- Train in virtual management techniques
1. Use the right communications tools (and don’t use too many)
Communication is key to successful virtual management. It is not because physical meetings are almost non-existent that dialogue has to be broken off. On the contrary!
It is important to continue communicating regularly with your employees, to maintain close ties in spite of the physical distance between you and to create a positive team spirit. To do this, a number of tools are available to help businesses encourage dialogue between colleagues, and share and store files: Google Drive, Slack, Dropbox, Glowbl, Miro, etc. Choose tools according to your requirements, but don’t use a lot of different ones – or make sure they are compatible with each other –, as you will lose in efficiency.
2. Combine formal and informal meetings
Of course, your virtual meetings are of a professional nature but it is vital that you also plan some more informal get-togethers, such as a remote coffee break, using a video conferencing tool. This will create a sense of belonging among your employees. Tools such as Glowbl Workplace, for example, enable you to set up spontaneous get-togethers via video call, outside your planned meetings and discussion channels.
By having more personal conversations with each of your team members, you will be able to detect any uneasiness or malaise and understand certain reactions, helping you to then adapt your approach accordingly, where necessary.
3. Set guidelines to protect your employees’ right to disconnect
Working remotely does not mean working all the time, non-stop. Everyone’s right to disconnect must be maintained. As a manager, you must show that you are available and open to discussion, without falling into the trap of losing your work-life balance.
To avoid that, set a framework for your discussions and define precise hours during which everyone in the team, yourself included, must be available. These limits help everyone preserve their private life without letting work invade their space, even when working from home.
Some meetings can easily be set at regular times, for example every Monday morning at 9am to discuss the week’s schedule. This helps maintain group dynamics and define your work pace.
Further reading: Online meetings: what are the advantages?
4. Ensure transparency
Transparency is one of the keys to successful virtual management. Well-informed employees are more likely to remain motivated and committed. Work must be organised in a clear and precise manner, using a shared calendar or meeting scheduling tool. In other words, you must set clear rules that apply to the whole team, to bring work methods in line and gain in efficiency.
It is also important to set or reset common and collective goals, in addition to each team member’s individual role, to ensure that your employees know precisely what is expected of them. These common rules and information should be communicated to the whole team at the same time, to avoid anybody feeling left out or neglected.
5.Trust your team
This is perhaps THE most important rule regarding virtual management: mutual trust between the manager and their team. Employees must have a certain level of autonomy and feel responsible in order to work in the best possible conditions.
As a manager, this means that you accept (and know how to!) let go, while continuing to follow your team members’ work because they must not feel completely “abandoned”. A manager cannot control everything remotely and so must weigh up autonomy and control, to achieve a perfect balance. Flexibility is a real asset, if not a prerequisite, for effective virtual management.
6. Prioritise management by objectives
Management by objectives, which has come back into the spotlight with the pandemic and the subsequent growth in telework, is the best suited to new remote working methods. As we discussed earlier, trust is sine qua non for this type of management. Unlike traditional management, whereby what counts is the number of hours worked, this method focuses above all else on results and the goals attained by each employee. As a manager, you must specify each team member’s objectives and define an action plan to achieve them.
By giving precise, concrete goals, management by objectives enables your employees to know what you expect of them, to manage their own schedule completely autonomously, and to stay motivated. Meanwhile, as their manager, you avoid over controlling or focusing too closely on the number of hours worked. Ideally, however, you should set clear, precise and measurable goals that are achievable, according to the skills of each team member.
7. Boost your employees’ commitment
There are several means by which you can enhance your employees’ commitment, especially if they are in full remote mode and never (or hardly ever) come into the office. For example, you can reward an employee’s work, simply by thanking them, or by offering a bonus. Feedback between you and your team members is very important, especially when working remotely, and it mustn’t only focus on negative points.
You can also celebrate your team’s victories, whether small pieces of good news or big success stories. When your team works remotely, why not send little gifts to each person’s home, call them, or even arrange a virtual drink together. Your employees’ commitment can also be boosted through common, positive projects communicated transparently, which will help to strengthen the feeling of cohesion and belonging in your team.
Further reading: Four team building ideas you can use remotely
8. Train in virtual management techniques
Several public and private training centres offer courses in remote management. The key objectives of this type of course are to analyse your current management techniques and identify any existing shortfalls, find ways to correct them, learn the basics of remote communications, and discover the different virtual management tools. Contact organisations such as your local Chamber of Commerce and Industry or professional training institute to find out more.