The coronavirus outbreak shook the corporate world, suddenly thousands of employees in different countries started working from home. Now there are many miles between you and your team members, well, that certainly is an extremely big challenge for management.
If you haven’t used to managing your team remotely, it can be hard at first. Suddenly, you cannot meet them in person; you cannot drop by at any moment. Group meetings, formerly so normal, just like group brain-storms now can cause a lot of stress. The problem is not just about new tools and software, it’s more about questions like how to communicate with your team in an effective way, how to organize your workplace, how to prevent procrastination and decreased productivity.
If you are struggling because you are new to the remote leadership or you are just looking for ways to improve the productivity of communication and work of your remote team, we are here to help you with a few effective tips.
Talk through all the expectations and review them on the way
As a team leader, you have quite a high degree of responsibility for the success of your project. Do not hesitate to spend some time at the beginning on the open conversation about your overall plan. Whether you are a team of web design & development specialists or media company, you have to add structure to the work of your remote team.
Every member of the team should be clear about their tasks and responsibilities by the end of this dialogue. It’s important to spend some time discussing challenges that they might face while working in this new environment and outline ways to overcome them.
At the very start, it’s crucial that you outline all the tools that your team will be using to communicate with each other and to monitor and report current progress. Choose how regularly the team should share status updates and set the time of regular meetings. As a leader, you have to make sure that your team has a strong support channel. If your team is managing or developing a professional website, all the responsible team members should be provided with relevant access information.
When you finish explaining the plan, don’t forget to ask whether your team members have any questions and spend all the time necessary to answer them.
It’s important to have the key outline of your plan in a written format so you can send it to every team member. Having a point of reference or reminder can be very helpful and save time explaining the same things over and over again.
There has to be a lot of communication while working remotely, but it doesn’t mean that your conversation should turn into an avalanche of messages and never-ending notification sounds. You need to communicate in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Avoid spamming at all costs in order not to lose everyone’s attention.
It would be a nice idea to arrange which platform will be used for which purposes. Video calls may be great for group meetings and Q&As. Messengers can be a great space for sharing updates and individual communication between the team members.
Contact your team REGULARLY
When we switch from working in the office to working from home it can be stressful for a lot of reasons. One of them is the sense of loneliness which is usually pushed away by frequent casual contacts with co-workers.
Check whether your group chat isn’t too silent and whether it needs your intervention to keep the conversation going. Is there someone who isn’t interacting at all?
If you have any time available, try to find a couple of minutes to contact the members of your team by video. Or write a message, it also can help to make them feel like you care and show that you are there if they need any help.
Workspace and clothing
Freelancers or people who work from home are often portrayed as people in pajamas sitting in their comfy beds with a laptop on their knees. Although it may sound heavenly, you wouldn’t actually want to do that.
While working from your ‘home-office’ it’s important to have a special workspace just for that. Share this insight with your team. It helps to get you in your working mood. This space should be quiet and preferably isolated, so that no one would bother you while you in the working process. And think about the lighting if you need to make video calls. Don’t forget to check your Wi-Fi and make sure that all the devices are there. You can personalize your space just to make it more fun to be there.
Once you have your workspace ready and organized, think about getting dressed. You might want to stay away from pajamas or underwear, and not just because people will be able to see you on video calls. Getting dressed helps you to get into the right mindset. Think about it as some sort of a ritual for getting you ready to do your work.
Staying at home all day alone is definitely not for everyone. Some people might experience loneliness. Also, a lot of people are stressing out right now because of the pandemic. It’s not the most care-free times we are living in at the moment.
So encourage everyone to take breaks regularly. It will not only be good for the mental health of the members of your team but also will show that you care about their well-being. Inspire them to find things that will best help them relax and get rid of anxiety. Books, exercises, hugs with the family members, playtime with their dog, whatever it is, make sure that your team members are using their breaks as time just for themselves. To maximize their positive effect, you could also suggest temporarily turning off notifications and physically distancing from a workspace. Even if you are a team of website specialist and the deadlines are coming, you still need to make some time to rest.
These pieces of advice can help you not to get lost on the way of adapting to the changes. Any difficulties or problems can be discussed with your team members and together you can always find the best solutions.
Switching to a new format of communication and working environment cannot go without challenges and obstacles on the way, so be gentle with your team and, of course, yourself.