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5 Tips to Successfully Manage Remote Teams Amid COVID

Remote Team Management

Right now, we are witnessing a massive change within the workforce around the globe – with remote working or working from home becoming more than just a lifestyle choice but an absolute necessity. The novel virus prevails, unfortunately, leaving matters of the present and future quite uncertain and bleak.

Who thought that the year 2020 would be written as the year when the mother earth breathed while the entire human race was confined within their homes and resting places?

This sudden shift in the workforce placed managers and team leads in a position of suddenly managing their teams remotely; which, isn’t as easy or convenient as one would hope with all the technological advancements. Nothing can replace the convenience of in-person collaborations and communication.

Nonetheless, the new reality is what we have to adjust to and workaround. For this, the managers have to devise ways to streamline work, set different levels of expectations, make use of the right tools, and do performance reviews slightly differently – preferably with the help of right remote-managerial strategies.

So, even if your team was working remotely since the beginning or has shifted to the new normal after COVID spread – either way, shifting your managerial skills into a remote setting doesn’t take an elaborate training. You can follow our small guide or a list of tips to get you started!

Tip #1 Build a Remote Workplace

What do I mean by remote office setup? Well more or less like a physical office containing meeting rooms, leisure areas, and so on. With remote spaces, you would need to create common spaces where your team can come together for banter or serious work discussions.

It is important that the members are not alienated and end up working on their tasks independently. But, they have a common ground where they can come together and connect with each other to ensure smooth workflow. There are great tools like Slack that can help your team collaborate online with ease.

However, you would need to create a certain set of rules and expectations around the style of usage of such tools so no inconvenience or over-indulgence occurs. Take Slack channels for example. They allow you to have multiple communication groups running allowing you to manage the workflow better whilst encouraging open communication for better remote collaborations.

So, make sure you are setting up such online spaces for your virtual teams to come together for work and leisure like they would in an office.

Tip #2 Prioritize One-on-One Monthly Meetings

Often times when working remotely, managers may place 1:1 meeting on the back burner; not because they are not important but because of the change in workplace and focus may place tasks ahead of the weekly or monthly meetings.

We need to remember that building relationships and keeping open communication is more important than ever in a remote setting. Since we cannot afford meeting in-person, it is necessary for managers to take half an hour or more out of their schedule and teams’ for a detailed one-on-one discussion over progress, roadblocks, and about any personal issues they may be facing.

You should encourage video calls to keep things as realistic as possible. This way, the communication feels more in-touch and less robotic. As a manager, you can make use of Trello board to manage your one-on-one meetings.

One of the great things about the Trello board is that is acts as a check-list. Your teammates can use these boards and add items that they would like to discuss and then follow-up with the goals’ progress throughout the cycle.

You as a manager on the other hand will be more in touch with the progress and can see how involved each member in their work with their level of initiatives taken on the board. This way, if you find someone to be falling behind, you can check on them through 1:1 meeting and help them with their blockages.

Tip #3 Schedule Group Meetings

As a lead or manager, you would be surprised at how many hidden or underlying issues come to light in group meetings. This is always a positive indication, as it then allows you and the team to resolve them in the best capacity.

Remote teams require such weekly or end-of-the-report meetings more than you might anticipate. Not only it anchors them and keeps them focused on critical tasks, but if they have certain reservations, they can openly discuss and resolve.

Of course, as their manager, you would need to schedule a time that doesn’t hinder their timelines pertaining to looming deadlines and find a slot that works for all. In order to save everyone’s time, it is best to send a heads-up a day or two before the meeting with the meeting’s agenda, so everyone would prepare accordingly and come on-board with the right mindset.

Tip #4 Develop a Process or System for Effective Work Management

Remote workers, as productive they can be, can easily be overwhelmed with the incoming work request – be it from a client or upcoming tasks piling up. One of the best ways to maintain the productivity of remote teams is to effectively manage and prioritize the work that is meant for the team. Often times, when dealing with remote teams, we are unable to sense the stress that may be building up for quite some time.

It is important to build a place where all requests can be processed, prioritized, assigned and tracked for progress in a systematic manner. Once there is a proper process developed to streamline work, no important task is missed and no unnecessary burden is laid on the shoulders of members that already have their plates full.

Since the COVID situation is still prevailing months after the breakout, the remote working or work from home setting seems to be the solution that is becoming the new normal. This is why, it is best for businesses to invest in a custom remote team management software that is tailor-made to manage its virtual teams, collaborations, progress tracking, and much more.

You can hunt down a suitable custom web app development company that would understand your requirements, your business flow, goals, and objects and above all, would understand each department and team requirements to create a robust solution for you.

Tip #5 Use Remote Team Management Tools

We have discussed tools like Slack and Trello including the convenience of a remote team management solution from scratch. However, there are several tools available at your disposal that you can make use of.

But before we dive into them, what are the generic must-haves for remote team management?

  • A chat app
  • A Video conferencing/call app
  • Project management software
  • Cloud collaboration and documentation tools

Now, let’s explore the available tools in the market.

  • Google Docs: They come with smart editing and styling tools with collaborative features enabling the creation of documents a simple affair. Moreover, teams can collaborate in real-time with back and forth communication.
  • Slack: Already discussed briefly above, slack is a great tool for virtual teams to communicate over. With multiple channels running, your remote teams can communicate something urgent or completely funny in respective channels without disturbing the work-flow for any member.
  • Zoom: In case of face-to-face video conversation or the need to share the screen in real-time, Zoom is your answer.
  • Dropbox: Sharing confidential or high-priority files with teammates over a secure channel. Moreover, with Dropbox, the team can access those files from any place and at any time.
  • Trello: Trello allows you to connect various apps together streamlining all the work through organization and integration of important projects. Most importantly, it replaces those chain emails with effective boards and other features.
  • Zapier: Need a solution to automate those menial recurring tasks? Zapier allows you to connect multiple apps and automate workflows so you can concentrate on high-priority tasks. It also eliminates any potential for human-error like forgetfulness and streamlines everything for you.  

Bonus:

Run Quarterly Performance Reviews

The performance review process that you carried in an office setting will differ gravely from the one devised for your remote teams. The factors on which performance was gauged cannot be applied to remote workers. For starters, the element of how they function in a physical office that would affect the performance review is eliminated in a remote setting.

So, you would require to shift your measuring criteria and conduct video meetings for an in-depth review. We focused on the importance of video conferencing and 1:1 video meetings, which would enable you, as a manager, to effectively gauge the performance of each member.

This way, you would be in tune with problematic or weak areas that require attention. This could be anything from an individual’s shortcomings or weak areas to a flaw within your own management.

All in all, performance reviews help in refining the remote team management process including the relationship with your virtual team(s).

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Muniza Ashraf

Muniza Ashraf is a software engineer turned technical writer with extensive experience in various niches, especially all-things-tech. If she isn’t writing, she is researching to bring information in the best way possible.

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