Following a week of widespread closures across the United States, many people fortunate enough to have jobs that can be done remotely are adjusting to a new way of working. There is no shortage of advice about how to work from home, but I’d like to share ideas around managing teams remotely.
I have been a full-time remote manager for four years. My team is spread across multiple U.S. states, four countries and many time zones. Some I managed when I worked in the office, and some have joined since I’ve been remote. Keeping everybody in the team on equal footing and providing opportunities for everyone to interact has been a challenge. But it has also been crucial to keeping the team functioning at a high level.
So here are some good starting points for thinking about remote team management. Some are more specific to these current circumstances, but all are helpful as you think about how your team will function in the aftermath of this situation.
For some, this will be the first time that your team is working from their home – ever. That means that they not only bring their work to their home, but they bring their home to their work. For some, this is fine – you may have team members who turn out to be more productive from home than they are in the office! But for others, home may not be a stabilizing place. This article lays out some important considerations that managers need to think about when interacting with newly remote employees. Make sure you give your employees the space to talk with you about challenges that they might have finding a work environment.
Working from home can be amazing, or it can leave you feeling lonely and isolated. Everyone reacts differently to this situation. It’s crucial to set your expectations accordingly. One team member might be a primary caregiver to young children and only have time to respond to emails at night. Another might not get much sleep because they’re worried about family. Have individual discussions with your team and make sure all involved are clear about expectations. It will be vital to making this time successful.
Business culture can make it easy to erase people’s lives outside work. But with everyone bringing their home into work now, we have a fantastic opportunity to reintroduce some of their lives into our culture. That can bring some needed balance to the demands of our jobs. Motus has been hosting a story time, where older kids read their favorite books to some of the younger kids. People are sharing their fitness tips, book recommendations and recipes on a level I’ve never seen before. This admission, that we’re all human and have lives outside of work, is one of the things I hope we keep with us as the business world evolves in the next year.
I hope you find these comments helpful in aiding a smooth transition to remote management. Your team will be looking to you to provide stability, understanding and compassion in these turbulent times. So talk about these things with your team. I think you’ll find that they deeply appreciate it.
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