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Tips for Managing a Team Remotely: How to Boost Engagement, Encouragement, and Morale

 Todd Tyler    Business Strategy
Managing a Remote Team

Tips for Managing a Team Remotely: How to Boost Engagement, Encouragement, and Morale

Over the last few months, managers have faced a crash course in remote team management.

You might be an effective manager in an office, but managing remote teams comes with new challenges.

Fortunately, you’re not alone. Workplaces around the world face similar issues. While some organizations have faltered during the COVID-19 pandemic, others have thrived because of successful remote team management strategies.

Today, we’re highlighting the best tips, tricks, and strategies you can use to manage a team remotely, including proven ways to boost engagement and morale among your team.

Track Worker Progress

Working from home does not mean working without responsibilities. Keep workers accountable, and good workers will start to manage themselves.

Make an extra effort to track the progress of your workers. Set guidelines for which tasks you expect your employees to complete, including the specific deadlines by which they need to complete their tasks.

It seems like an obvious tip, but tracking worker progress gives your employees structure when they need it most. Of course, it also helps you complete projects on time.

Set Expectations Frequently, and Continue Reinforcing Those Expectations

Experts recommend setting expectations early and often. By setting expectations early, and reinforcing those expectations repeatedly, you set clear guidelines for employees.

Some of the expectations to reinforce early and often include:

  • Project deadlines
  • Project boundaries, guidelines, and expectations
  • Policy changes
  • Staffing changes
  • Company successes and achievements

As mentioned above, structure is important when working from home. Some employees prosper in a structure-less environment. Others do not.

By giving employees structure, and reinforcing that structure repeatedly, you ensure all employees are on the same page when it comes to pushing the project forward.

Be More Accessible

Some employees are accustomed to walking into the manager’s office every time they need information. Working from home can make this impossible.

Fortunately, it’s easier than ever to make yourself accessible to employees. Make sure employees know they can contact you, call you, or video call you during specific business hours. When employees need answers to questions, or when employees need immediate feedback, they need to know where to get it.

Give Employees Some Flexibility

We just explained why structure and guidelines are important when working from home.

At the same time, however, it’s important to give employees some flexibility. Don’t force employees into a rigid schedule if it’s not working.

See working from home as an advantage – not a downside. Instead of forcing a morning person to wake up early, for example, you can allow that person to work during the evening, when they’re more productive and creative.

As long as employees respect boundaries and project guidelines, give them the flexibility of working how and when they want.

Different people work in different ways. When you allow people to flex their strengths, you may notice surprising benefits.

Understand the Common Challenges of Remote Work

Remote work has many advantages – but it also has many challenges. By recognizing the challenges of remote work early, you can avoid the pitfalls associated with remote work.

Some of the most common challenges include:

  • Lack of face-to-face supervision or accountability
  • Lack of access to information, resources, or expert assistance
  • Social isolation, lack of meaningful interaction, and loneliness
  • Distractions at home

By addressing these challenges early, companies can maximize team productivity in any setting.

Organize Social Events (When Safe to Do So)

It’s easy to assume that all social interaction is off the table. However, that’s not true. Depending on your location, some social interaction may be permitted – like lunches with small groups, socially-distanced meetings, or group activities outdoors.

As long as you’re abiding by local restrictions, following all rules, and keeping employees safe, some social interaction may be an effective morale booster.

At the very least, you can host things like a Zoom happy hour on Friday afternoons, giving employees a chance to interact with people they chat with all week – but rarely see in person.

Perform Daily Check-ins

It’s easy for workers to feel isolated when working from home. Without a daily check-in, workers feel even more isolated.

Take a few minutes to check in with each employee. Or, if that’s not feasible, ask all employees to check in with a group meeting on Zoom once a day for a few minutes.

At the very least, a daily check in allows team members to see you – and you to see them. It encourages accountability without putting excessive demands on your employees.

Share Tips with Employees

Ask employees to share what strategies work best when working from home.

Do some employees spend an afternoon at a coffee shop to break up the monotony? Do other employees work better in a closed office space away from their partner an dkids? Are employees staying home or traveling during the pandemic?

People work differently. By collecting productivity tips from all your employees, you can see what works and what doesn’t. Make it collaborative, and share the best tips with your employees to ensure you can effectively manage your team remotely throughout the pandemic.

View the Pandemic as an Opportunity Instead of a Burden

Above all, try to approach the pandemic as an opportunity – not a burden.

Many companies are thriving during the pandemic. Some have already announced plans to stick with the work from home model long-term – or at least adopt a partial work from home model.

Some of the biggest advantages of working from home include:

  • Less money spent on office space and associated overhead costs
  • Hire skilled employees from across the country or around the world, regardless of physical location
  • Employees have greater flexibility to work how they like to work and flex their strengths

Identify the advantages of working from home, and leverage those advantages as much as possible.

By minimizing the downsides and maximizing the advantages of working from home, you can build an efficient workplace – no matter where that workplace may be.