Ways to Manage Your (Newly) Remote Team

New to managing a remote team? Here are some best practices.

28 Apr 2020 Articles Work-life harmony Trending

To reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Singapore, the Government recently announced the need for Singaporeans to stay at home as much as possible, and this includes putting in place measures to allow staff to work from home. 

These measures have had an immediate impact on the way teams and organisations operate, with more employees working from home than ever before.  

Shifting to a work-from-home culture abruptly brings with it some unique challenges for supervisors. Here are some ways that supervisors can help ease the transition.

  1. Establish structured check-ins

    A successful remote working arrangement requires regular and structured communication. Depending on the type of work being done, i.e. independent or collaborative, this can take the form of a series of one-on-one calls, or a team call. Take this opportunity to not only exchange work-related updates, but also remote social interaction, such as spending the first few minutes of the team call catching up with each other.

    What is important is that the calls are regular and consistent, so that your employees can be prepared for them and work them into their daily schedule.

  2. Set up systems to track and manage deliverables

    Managing a remote team means supervising your team differently to ensure your team members continue to be productive and deliver results.  

    Use project management tools to measure deliverables and evaluate work, and align expectations on quality of work and timelines. Start by selecting key metrics based on work outcomes that matter most for each individual, and the overall team’s success, and measure those activities.   Simple templates in shared folders to see individuals’ contributions can also help. 

    This also helps your employees to structure their day as efficiently as possible to best meet objectives. 

  3. Implement rules of engagement

    Set clear expectations on the frequency, mode and timing of communication for their teams. For example, establish the primary mode of communication, e.g. videoconferencing via Zoom, Skype or Microsoft Teams, etc. for regular check-in meetings, but Whatsapp for more urgent matters. Other considerations include regular updates on response times and notifications on unavailability of individual team members.  

  4. Check in regularly with individual team members

    Particularly in the context of an abrupt shift to remote work, it is important that you acknowledge the stress your employees may be facing, e.g. managing school-going children on home-based learning during this period, and listen to their concerns and challenges.

    Keep an open line of dialogue with your remote team to gain a better understanding of what is working, and what isn’t. Bear in mind that working from home requires skills and setting boundaries that may not necessarily come naturally for all. If you have members of your team who are adjusting particularly well to this new arrangement, consider inviting them to share practices that have worked well for them. 

As organisations continue to make adjustments to keep employees safe, it is important to support your team in being able to continue contributing meaningfully with minimal or no disruption to their schedules and productivity.