Managing your remote team online – top tips

5 min read

If you manage a team of employees and are now confined to online contact only, you have some planning to do.

Managing a team effectively is entirely possible online, if you follow some basic guidelines. Let’s take a look at some of the major points to consider when taking your team management online.

Map your team’s processes and look for gaps

You’ll need to do a review of all your team’s usual workdays in order to understand new workflows and check for gaps.

Some usual day-to-day duties will have to be abandoned and some can be performed in new ways. It’s wise to get a full understanding of what tasks and duties your team can and cannot do under isolation, while looking for any new solutions.

Some ideas:

  • Do a forensic account of all of your normal processes.
  • Track each team member and come up with a list of common workflows and interactions.
  • Note any instance when an interaction would be physical or in any way not feasible doing remotely and check for common solutions.
  • Make a list of all new solutions necessary to mitigate your team’s workflow gaps.
  • Remap your team’s workflows and communicate the new working conditions clearly.

Set very clear expectations

“Working remotely, I think the biggest thing is setting expectations,” said Thomas Peng, a data engineering manager at Zapier.

Your team will be looking to you for direction, goals and expectations. Make sure you give it to them very clearly.

Set the scene for your team by creating weekly KPIs, set tasks and goals. Bring them up at the beginning of the week and have a debrief at week’s end.

It’s best to use productivity, task and workflow solutions for this, such as Trello, Monday or Asana. This way you can have a clear calendar of events for each team member, along with the information to achieve their task. Visibility will also help your team members understand the bigger team picture and will be more engaged and aware.

If your staff’s tasks will be somewhat reactive, allow time in their day for the unexpected.

Be mindful of focusing on outcomes rather than ‘time in chair’.

The setting of tasks and expectations is one of the most important aspects of managing a team online and the more effort you put into it the better.

Communication people!

Communication, communication, communication.

You will need to set clear expectations of how and when your team communicates. The natural instinct to have casual conversations in the office over small matters is different to being online.

Seek to engage positively with all team members and keep the chatter up in team channels to set the example.

Communication breakdowns can result in a fractured team environment. By developing excellent remote communication habits, you will only make your team stronger, more co-operative and more efficient, while avoiding unfavorable team outcomes.

A team with excellent communication is a team with excellent outcomes.

Some ideas:

  • Have morning check in
  • Decide on which primary platform to use to keep team communication central e.g. Slack
  • Host regular meetings on Microsoft Teams or Zoom with all your staff
  • Give lots of feedback
  • Drive chatter in dedicated team chat channel
  • Break up professional chat with fun/personal communication
  • Set the example

Cybersecurity and home devices

“Security used to be an inconvenience sometimes, but now it’s a necessity all the time.” – Martina Navratilova

In an online environment, digital hygiene is essential to the security of your business. There’ll be a lot of unsecured laptops out there without the correct antivirus software.

Ensure you engage with your IT professionals and manage your team’s compliance.

In smaller businesses this task may fall to you – so it’s worth doing fresh research and possibly engage professionals to implement best practices when it comes to your online security, and that of your team members.

It’s up to you to create a set of rules around your IT use. Create a fact sheet on expectations and, importantly, do a questionnaire about what your team will be using and how.

Ensure your team:

  • Conforms to device security and antivirus measures
  • Have appropriate passwords
  • Are using updated software
  • Have remote access if required
  • Have the right type and quality of IT equipment to perform their duties
  • Don’t have access to unnecessary files or devices
  • Use appropriate and secure cloud backups
  • Are trained in scam identification
  • Have appropriately secure and strong Wi-Fi access

There will, of course, be further considerations, but if you nail the primary points above, you’ll be undoubtedly far more prepared to manage your team effectively online.

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