I recently reached out to several clients and business partners who have decades of experience collaborating with remote teams large and small. As the workforce across the U.S. is in the midst of Working from Home, I’ve decided to consolidate the advice I received into these top ten tips on how to manage teams and expectations during this unprecedented transition.
1. Take advantage of the potential benefits of remote work.
Working from Home (typically) eliminates many of the interruptions of the office: noise, people interruptions, and intermittent meetings. People can have long stretches of uninterrupted time where they can do more creative work.
2. You also can’t expect that everything (or anything) is going to be normal.
Curb your ambitions right now, and be empathetic about the situation many workers are in. People are home with kids, parents, roommates, partners and pets. It’s chaos. They are not used to that as a work environment
3. Trust your employees to get their work done.
You can see if work is getting done by looking at the volume and quality of the work they are doing. We trust outside professionals, like lawyers and accountants to get the work done. We need to extend that trust to our employees.
4. The tools you choose have a big impact on how much work can be done.
Find tools that allow for collaborative work in real time.
5. Flexibility and empathy are key.
Working remotely is new for a lot of people, and many cases right now are due to recent extenuating circumstances. The sudden change had been a shock to the system, so we’ve all needed to take some time to get used to it. Be patient with yourself and your teammates.
6. Understand there’s a bit of a learning curve for people unfamiliar with remote tools.
Put a team of people together who have experience, empathy, and teaching ability to help people along who are new to remote work. Managers need to make sure people have enough space and leeway to practice this.
7. Full-time work may be a challenge for some people now
With school off and daycare closed and roommates and partners home, it’s important for leaders to understand people may need to trim down their day.
8. Take time to reconsider how you do things. What needs to change?
Until companies got knocked off course (some way off-course), many were working on autopilot. We don’t need to do everything as we did it in the office. What happens if we don’t?
9. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Check-in with team members, keep them informed. Listen. Be supportive. Be flexible. Ask how you can help. Be reachable.
10. Establish a “reach out” program with clients and key business partners.
Decide how you can be most valuable. This is the time to remember that extraordinary service to internal and external customers, built your business and it will again.
We should consider how valuable Working From Home has been to your team or organization.
My take on how to evaluate this is: how did it feel to slow down; to stop going at full speed 24/7; to have time to think; to not be interrupted; to be creative; to have balance? Of course, we have returned to tracking numbers, measuring productivity, meeting deadlines and facilitating meetings as this has become more permanent and "normal". But, what have we learned from working from home and how has it benefited us and our employees?
Though many people have been forced to work from home, I think it needs to remain at least optional, which could be a huge collective step forward. In fact, I predict it will be hard to get employees to work without this option. If you're looking for assistance on leading remote teams, we offer leadership training courses! Contact us today to learn more!