While you might have managed a couple of team members remotely to date, managing a fully remote team, while balancing the challenges of being remote yourself, might be a new experience for you. The following are some best practices to help guide you through it.
As you read through this guide, we understand there are many collaboration options available. We use and prefer Microsoft Teams and will refer to it throughout this guide. Most of the information can also be applied to other platforms.
Managing remote teams
- Manage for outcomes. Don’t constantly focus on what tasks your team members are doing. Instead,make sure you are clearly communicating the expected outcomes and timeframes, ensuring your team is positioned to deliver.
- Over-communicate and cascade information. Your team members will be cut off from organic information flows they used to have through others in the office. You need to make time to communicate more – pass on information you learn from other teams, other meetings etc.
- Actively solicit feedback. Actively make more space for feedback, don’t assume that your team members will feel comfortable sharing. Ask what more you could be doing to support? What roadblocks your team member is facing? What could make their job easier? Are they are clear on desired outcomes and know how to get there?
- Actively give feedback. Provide feedback in constant, quick soundbites to help your team members course correct quickly. As much as possible, feedback should be delivered via video instead of chat.
Collaboration and work effectiveness
- Touch base with each of your team members daily. Even if it’s just a quick Teams message to check in, make the time to do it. Over-communication becomes suddenly critical, and your team member may be struggling with being remote even where you aren’t.
- Schedule daily standups as a team. Pull the team together more than you normally would, to make sure all are doing ok. Create the safe space that allows your team members to connect, even if not all of them can make it every day.
- Set up team collaboration Teams channels. If you don’t already have a channel dedicated to your nuclear team, set one up. Ongoing chatter and sharing will become more important when everyone is working from home.
- Consider an ongoing Teams meeting that people can dip in and out of. Similar to the “always on” cameras between the offices, a constant zoom room that your team members can jump in and out of can help create a “water cooler” spot for the team to have a break.
Actively foster your culture
- Take time to thank your team members every day. Whether in the #_appreciation channel, on a Teams call or just in an email, carve out this moment to recognize a team member for how their efforts made a difference.
- Differences in opinion are resolved via video or a call, not chat. It’s as basic as that. If you disagree with someone, jump on a call. Escalating chat messages back and forth are toxic to any culture.
- Tone doesn’t always translate on Teams. Use emojis to help communicate your tone and intent.
Onboarding new team members
- If at all possible, try and push out start dates until after you are back in the offices again – it’ll be a much better start and integration experience for a new hire.
- Plan more thoroughly. Build a detailed onboarding plan document that has everyone in the team playing a role, and share it with everyone in the team.
- Set expectations. Shoot your new team member an email BEFORE they start (preferably copy team members in so others can chime in on the welcome) to set expectation of what that first week will look like.
- You will have less visibility into your new team member’s setup. Make sure your new team member has received a laptop, is set up with their accounts, etc. Contact IT and other onboarding resources in advance to let them know what your new hire will need.
- Implement a Buddy support program. Ensure that the Buddy plans to check in regularly.
- Spend time with your new team member regularly. Do this at least daily in the first week.
- Build out your new team member’s network. Enlist others in the team to have onboarding sessions focused on getting your new team member up to speed in different areas.
- Building relationships is as important as the information. Make sure as much onboarding time as possible is spent on Teams calls with others (rather than self-study and reading), so that your new team member can get to know others.
- Include your new team member in the chatter. Actively add your new team member to all relevant Teams channels as they won’t hear about these organically from others anymore.
Wellness – combating isolation in quarantine
- Enforced working from home on a prolonged basis, especially under quarantine, can be a very isolating experience. Check in with your team members regularly to ensure they are doing ok. Remind them (and yourself) to make sure we’re working in a way that is kind to our body – don’t spend all day hunched over a stool at the kitchen counter, take regular breaks and make sure to stretch!
Contact us for assistance setting up Teams and empowering your team as you adjust to working remotely.