Advice for Managers – Working from Home

Guidance Sheet 1/3 – Managing a Remote Team

If working from home is new for you, the prospect of managing a team remotely may seem daunting.

Agile HR has put together some information as a basic guide about the things to think about.

Managing Remote Teams

Before you think about how you will manage your remote team, think about how you will manage yourself and your own time.  Also take time to think about the individuals you are managing and how you have managed them in an office environment.

Managing Yourself:

Firstly, there is bound to be downtime when you are not feeling productive at home.  Don’t be hard on yourself, this is normal.  When you are in the office there are natural distractions that mean you are not productive all the time.  The human body and mind is not designed to be 100% productive 100% of the time.  Accept there will be times when you will need a break or your energy won’t be optimal and your productivity will naturally be lower.

Plan your day around other duties you have.  This may be setting the children up for remote working, walking the dog, doing general administration and taking lunch and rest breaks.  Plan to work on tasks for a maximum of 90 minutes before you have a break.

Managing Others:

If you understand your natural way of working and set yourself up accordingly, you will be in a better position to manage a remote team.

Start with the premise that people want to do a good job and be productive, then use the acronym ACT.

Accountability –

  • Set clear expectations about what needs to be achieved and check in regularly (but not too regularly!) to measure progress
  • Have clear targets and timeframes for work to be completed
  • Make priorities clear
  • Be flexible around when people do their work. For example, they may want to start earlier or work in the evening to manage children’s home schooling.

Collaboration –

  • Try to have shared tasks and project work to reduce isolation
  • Have regular team meetings and meaningful agenda points
  • Ask team members to host different parts of meetings
  • Use video wherever possible – face to face is far more effective than just on the phone
  • Make some communication fun – e.g. set up a quiz, have a video coffee break etc.

Remember – communication is 7% words, 38% tone and 55% body language.  Unless you can see someone, a large part of the message is being lost.

Trust –

  • People want to do a good job
  • Avoid micro-managing
  • Use situational leadership and vary your style depending on who you are managing. You wouldn’t manage a school leaver starting in the team in the same way you would a seasoned professional at the office, and the same applies when working remotely.

What if there is a Performance Gap?

Firstly establish why.  Are they receiving the support they need?  Use the acronym ‘KRM’.

Knowledge –

  • Do they know what’s expected of them?
  • Do they know that they aren’t currently meeting expectations?
  • Do they know how to do the job?

Resource –

  • Do they have the time to do the job?
  • Do they have the budget and resource they need?
  • Are they able to collaborate with the people the need to get the work done?

Motivation –

If, and only if, the answers to all the above are yes, consider their motivation.

  • Do they have the right balance of autonomy and guidance?
  • Do they have the skills to do the job?
  • Do they have a sense of purpose in the work they are doing?
  • Is their mental health in a good place?

If you need any further advice on managing remote teams or performance management, please contact Agile HR and we will be very happy to discuss your requirements.

Our next guidance sheet covers Mental Wellbeing Whilst Working from Home.

Remember, stay positive, you’ve got this!

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