Managing a Newly Remote Team

Many managers faced an unexpected obstacle over the past several months, presenting unique challenges – managing a remote team. For those accustomed to coming into the office every day, keeping our doors open, and regularly interacting with our teams, we now look at how to foster engagement, production, and culture, all from our computers. Here are three best-practices on how to do just that:

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  1. Hold two 15-30 minute huddles a day – One of the biggest things I miss, and I know my team misses about the office, was the chance to chat during the day. Remember those moments on the floor when the phone wasn’t ringing, and you could catch up on the latest Netflix shows, music, or what someone’s cute kid did? Too many managers are making the mistake of utilizing most of their time for business, which can be draining. Your team wants to participate in something besides work with their peers (and you), even if it’s for 15 minutes. With overall human engagement down, it is so important to take this time to connect, and it needs to be done with cameras on (avoid phone only huddles). Don’t make the mistake of being all business. Turn your camera’s on, connect, smile. Your team will thank you.
  1. Encourage Activity – With a new work environment (your home) comes new obstacles and new opportunities. Do you know those weekly one hour calls or pieces of training that you used to be trapped at your desk during? Well, now you can take that call with you on a walk. Most industries are utilizing a meeting platform with an app; let your team know that it’s ok to get up from their desk and go for a walk while logged in. The movement is healthy and stimulates the brain; they will be happy you gave this your stamp of approval. Often, if you aren’t told outright by your manager that an activity is ok, you will avoid it, especially if it’s relatively new. Give them the thumbs up to move around. 
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  1. Be Consistent with 1 on 1’s – Most managers have a weekly 1 on 1 with their employees to discuss performance, talk about opportunities, check-in, etc. If you’re like me, my office door was always open, so if someone on my team needed to speak, they would often just come in, and boom, spontaneous 1 on 1. I always preferred those because they were driven out of something and didn’t feel scheduled. Without the ‘open door’ ability anymore, you must keep your regularly scheduled 1 on 1 time. Even if you don’t have anything for that particular team member that day, you can simply ask how they are doing. The more you can be in front of your team, and the more you can show that you support them, the better they will perform.

Maybe you’re doing some or all of these things now; perhaps this is all new to you. Either way, we are all working together to manage our teams to their fullest potential, and using these easy steps has worked for my team. If you have other best practices, please feel free to share them in the comments!

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