How skilled are you at managing a remote/virtual team?

Remote working has become far more the norm for many businesses and their teams. How is it going? Has "work from home fatigue" crept in yet?


Some people cannot thrive when working in isolation. They may struggle to create an environment that is conducive to productive working, the kitchen table and chair may be less and less inviting, children at home bring added challenges, it may be hard to have the self-discipline to complete work rather than watch the TV, especially when there is worry and anxiety about what is going on and each morning has a sense of deja vu.


Managing a remote/virtual team requires an adaptive and inspiring approach


Tips to help:

  • Create a sense of belonging. Create a Team identity, Vision and Agreed Ways of Working

  • Set up a Buddy System or a team in Microsoft Teams for ad-hoc check-ins and chats. This gives the opportunity to share challenges, anxieties and success stories.

  • Schedule whole team calls/video conferencing to create connection. I particularly like Zoom.

  • Agree really clear expectations at the outset about what a person is required to deliver, deadlines etc.,

  • Champion Collaboration Relationships are the string that draw people together – think about projects that individuals could collaborate on.

  • Stop the guilt trip. If your team have to be available between some core hours, perhaps not even every day, make it ok that they can leave their PC/Telephone to put the washing in, make a cup of tea, go to the toilet etc….you’d be amazed by how many workers can feel guilty working from home for no reason other than they took 5 minutes to put the bins out

  • And Breathe. Set up rotas if necessary to encourage everyone to have downtime, lunch breaks, go for a walk and physically move away from their desks.

  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate! Don’t assume that word will have got round.

  • Be Mental Health Aware. Ask and more importantly, Listen. Notice not only what is being said, but how it is being said. Make it ok for people to let you know they are down or struggling. There are 2 short videos here that will help you spot the signs and know what to say

  • Motivation Management not Micro-Management. Regular 1-2-1 time with you as the manager – developing capability, supporting the members of your team etc., does not stop because you cannot see them. Take time for the personal interest “coffee making, water-cooler” conversation.

  • If you are struggling thinking that workers are wasting time, doing other things beside what they should be doing and generally dislike the fact that you have lost some element of control, consider how you can get more comfortable with managing by output rather than observation

  • Ensure colleagues have the right technology and are trained to use it. What support have you put in place to help make the workspace as healthy as it can be? This link has some great reminders: https://www.hse.gov.uk/toolbox/workers/home.htm

And what about you? How are you managing? Use your trusted network and seek support if you need to. As the saying goes "a problem shared is a problem halved"


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