Top tips for successfully managing remote teams

Managing a team remotely - and managing a remote team - are two separate things that can be equally difficult due to the many challenges involved in each.

Whether you’re new to management, new to the team or just looking for inspiration in your day-to-day management going forward, we can provide some guidance that should be helpful in improving and streamlining your working practices.

Maintain good communication

Prior to the pandemic, few people were used to working from home, so it was a huge change - and perhaps a bit of a shock - to suddenly be working remotely full-time. Although some people may enjoy the informality and freedom of it, many others will struggle with the lack of routine and not having ‘somewhere to go’.

From both of these perspectives, it’s good to establish a routine early on to ensure that staff still feel like they’re ‘going to work’, even if that is just the dining room table. Good communication is essential to doing this successfully. You could try setting up morning catch ups first thing; encourage your team to log on and get ready for the day, then schedule daily video calls to touch base with everyone and see what they have planned for the day.

Not only will this allow you to keep track of everyone’s daily workload, but it will also give those staff feeling unmotivated or overwhelmed a bit of direction to kick-start their day. Make sure you clearly set out what will be covered in these meetings so that your team is prepared and knows what to expect.

Regular communication throughout the week is important too. Make sure your staff know that they can contact you for assistance and try to leave the lines of communication as open as possible. You could set up weekly 1-1s to catch up individually with your staff to make sure that their workload is at the right level and to address any issues that come up during the week.

Also consider a team messaging group that members can use on a daily basis - this will be helpful for any work-related queries that just need a quick response, as well as personal aspects such as that evening’s dinner choice or weekend plans - it’s an important part of the team experience. Many employees list team camaraderie as one of the best things about their office life.

Mental wellbeing

Mental health has been a hot topic since the onset of the pandemic, as many people have struggled with the changes that have been imposed on their everyday lives. A recent report predicted that up to 10 million people - almost 20% of the population - will need either new or additional mental health support as a direct consequence of the crisis. The report, entitled Covid 19 and the nation’s mental health was released by the Centre for Mental Health in October 2020.

For some, working from home decreases motivation and it can feel like ‘groundhog day’, especially if you have no reason to leave the house each day. Being stuck inside can promote feelings of isolation and even restlessness, neither of which support a productive output. Monitor your team members individually for signs that they have not adapted well to working from home and look to put measures in place to help them. Make sure you voice your concerns with them and get their feedback first, then go on to discuss ideas about how you can improve things to enhance their working day.

Everyone’s different

Everyone likes to work in different ways and that goes for working from home too. Although it’s good to have a routine and encourage positivity and productivity, it’s also good to be flexible to allow individuals to work in a way that fits in with their preferences and home commitments too.

For example, staff with children may need a bit of flexibility when it comes to school drop off and collection times, so formulate a way of allowing those employees to with their hours around that. The same goes for staff that may have taken on a partial care role for elderly relatives or neighbours. Give your staff some flexibility with their hours and it’s likely they will reward you with increased effort and loyalty.

Retain your staff

While it’s no surprise that many people left their jobs during the pandemic due to redundancy, it is surprising to hear that many more left out of choice in 2020. One reason for this is when employees didn’t feel secure in their jobs. As a team leader, you need to reassure your staff that they are valued and that their jobs are safe. Keep communicating with them, encourage them to voice any concerns and be sure to always answer honestly.

Staff who are uncertain about their job security may start job searches and this is not the time to lose talented, knowledgeable employees who can help your business navigate the challenges of the pandemic effectively. If staff do leave you’ll have to deal with skills gaps and recruiting new staff and training them, which is costly and time-consuming, so you should strive to retain good staff wherever possible.

Engaging staff

Employee engagement increases productivity in the workplace - companies with high employee engagement are 21% more profitable. (Source - Smarp)

Good communication is key to keeping staff engaged, especially if your team is spread far and wide. As well as maintaining daily and weekly communications with the team and individuals, also be sure to communicate any official company updates regularly and thoroughly. Keeping staff in the loop, with both good and bad news, will build trust and loyalty.

Consider what you can do for your team members as well as what they can do for you. Now might be a good time to invest in some training for employees - perhaps something they’ve expressed an interest in and/or something that would help plug a skill gap within the company.

If your company is doing well - show your staff you appreciate them! Whether that’s a heartfelt “thank you”, a treat through the post or even a bonus, those who feel they are appreciated at work are more likely to be happy in their roles.

How we can help

PETA offers a range of courses that could be relevant to your business. Check out our Leading a Remote Team and other courses aimed at supporting you in leading your team remotely to learn more about managing teams in these challenging times.

Mental health has been a very prominent topic this year, both in and out of the workplace. Why not enrol one or two of your people on the Mental Health First Aid Champions course to encourage recognition, understanding and support amongst team members? For managers and HR professionals, Mental Health First Aid will instill the knowledge needed to not only recognise signs, but to create and sustain a mentally healthy work environment.

Remember that we can offer these courses as company-sponsored options too.

Professional coaching

If there are any areas in which you feel you need a bit of extra guidance, perhaps because you’re new to management or you need help getting to grips with the current ways of working, our professional coaching service may be the right route for you.

We can help you overcome individual challenges, develop leadership skills or change direction. Our team of experienced coaches will work with you to create a bespoke coaching package that meets the needs of all involved. An initial consultation meeting with your dedicated Business Coach will give them the opportunity to recommend and tailor a bespoke package from our gold, silver or bronze services.

HR support and consultancy

We offer an HR support service that covers a wide range of HR-related activities from policy document creation and procedure reviews to staff onboarding, redundancy and performance management. Our first-class HR professionals will work with you to tailor a bespoke package of support that is delivered to meet your requirements, support your business and promote the wellbeing of your staff.

Whatever support or training you feel your business could benefit from, get in touch to discuss your requirements and together we’ll find a solution that works for you.


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