From Video Conferencing to Instant Messaging, Adopting These Six Strategies can Make the Difference Between Remote Teams that Flourish and Those that Flounder
The past year has stretched our understanding of what a remote work team can look and feel like. Some companies and teams have floundered, and some have flourished. If you lead a remote team or a remote employee, there are six strategies that can help you optimize your remote team.
Strategy #1 Daily Check-Ins
Pre-Covid, when we worked in close proximity, managers would catch up with employees just by running into them throughout the day.
For those who have lost the benefit of proximity this year, it is now necessary to deliberately plan and schedule these quick check-ins. The most successful supervisors I know are setting daily check-ins. A five-minute conversation is likely all it will take most of the time to keep employees on the right track — unless there is a major change necessary. Once a week, make the check-in a little longer and go over the following week’s plans and the previous week’s accomplishments.
Strategy #2 Focus On Productivity, Not Logged Time
Let me be blunt. You can’t realistically monitor the minutes logged by your employees doing remote work, but you can come to agreements on what is reasonable for productivity.
Discuss specific deliverables and reasonable deadlines with your employees. For the most part, we all know how long it takes to do the different tasks of our work.
From this point, focus on delivery and don’t worry about time. This mental shift can be a struggle for some managers who are clock-watchers, but it’s a more effective way to manage a remote worker.
Strategy #3 Leverage Technology For Accountability
Once you start having regular check-ins about deliverables, track those deliverables with a project management tool. You can use a simple spreadsheet on a shared drive, or project management software like Base Camp, Microsoft Teams, or any other of the numerous ones available.
Using a project management tool allows you and your employees to watch progress together, even if you never see each other face-to-face. These platforms are game changers, and a company that isn’t leveraging them is at a disadvantage to the competition.
Strategy #4 Give Your People A “Life-Line”
Working closely with your banker ensures you have someone who understands your business and its financial situation well. Think of your banker as a business partner or valued adviser, and let them know what is happening regularly. A good banker will ensure lines of communication remain open. Make sure you stay in touch with your banker so that when you are ready to start a loan application, there isn’t a lot of catch-up that has to happen.
At a minimum, our clients hear from us every three months. If they’re going through a transitional period and need more frequent contact, we urge them to let us know. We are there to help. At the end of the day, having a good relationship with your banker is going to make it a lot easier to go out there and acquire credit from the bank.
Strategy #5 Utilize Instant Messaging For Your Intact Teams
Whether your team prefers Slack, Discord, group-text, Microsoft Teams, or some other platform, they’ll learn they can quickly throw a question out to the whole team and get an answer or some support without clogging up the email inbox. They will collaborate more regularly and with better results. It will also give you, the manager, a real-time ticker of progress and morale.
Strategy #6 Get Good At Video Conference Meetings With Your Whole Team
A well-run video-conference meeting can be highly productive and even allow for genuine connecting among your team members. You also have the benefit of recording the meeting and chat for accountability and planning purposes.
Again, the strategy is to get good at video-conference meetings. Don’t just do them to do them. Make them highly productive, fast-paced, and full of decision making and clear planning. Search online for “meeting best practices” and apply your favorite principles to your meetings. A good meeting should recharge your team, not the opposite.
Putting it all together, I’ve watched these six strategies make a real difference during the pandemic for several teams I work with. I’ve also watched other teams flop and fall apart. The teams that thrive are disciplined about these strategies. You can drop the ball occasionally, but it adds up quickly in these trying times.
If you’re disciplined about it, you’ll learn that these strategies aren’t “more work.” They’re about better work, more effective work. Apply these strategies, and I think you’ll find managing your remote team will get easier.
Derek Pangelinan owns Derek Rey Consulting LLC. He is a management/leadership coach for small and medium business owners all across Oregon and Southwest Washington. He runs a variety of workshops to help them build their teams and improve communication and commitment in the workplace.