Although remote working is nothing new, it has seen a universal breakthrough in light of the coronavirus. As many businesses have turned their workplaces digital, some managers are managing their teams working from home for the first time.
New and unchartered territory for all, not only are we now facing the challenge of working in total isolation, many of you are also having to manage a team in these new conditions.
Your management style will need to adapt to suit current conditions and employee expectations will need to be assessed too.
This new chapter of leading a team virtually is a good opportunity. Once life resumes normality (although something tells us the new normal will involve a lot more working remotely than ever before), those managers that lead their team through this with success will be remembered and marked for more future successes.
Although potentially an overwhelming time, there are clear steps you can take to ease the transition to remote working and managing your team effectively. Here are our top tips.
1. Set objectives
Some employees are likely to be totally fresh to working remotely, which can be stressful as they need to figure out how to work effectively to achieve their goals.
You can prepare your team for working from home by clearly setting out what is expected of them. It’s useful setting tangible outcome-based goals that your team can measure against themselves.
RED’s Senior Account Manager Kristin Haaland explains ‘One of the challenges many SAP team managers face is motivating their staff and keeping up productivity levels. My advice is that working from home works best when there are clear deadlines in place and your team knows exactly what they need to deliver. It’s all about effectively communicating your expectations.’
Analyse the employee’s responsibilities and tasks in detail to get a clear understanding, then communicate this effectively to your staff so they know what they should focus on.
Remember, focus on outcomes rather than activities to ensure high productivity.
2. Utilise tech
Ensure you invest in a robust tech infrastructure with Software as a Service (Saas) and Cloud solutions which will not only help employees working from home but ones at the office to communicate and collaborate effectively. In today’s business landscape, using the Cloud for storing and sharing files is a must. Commonly used collaboration and video conferencing tools are Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Using video over phone is recommended. This is the best way to replicate that face-to-face interaction everyone is not only used to but enjoy.
3. Structure time
Encourage your team to structure their day working from home just as they would at the office. Without clear structure, it’s easy to mix in personal life into work which will lead to distractions.
Follow your morning routine as if you still have to get up and go to the office. If you have to walk/cycle 20 minutes to get to the bus/train/office then go out and do this before getting down to work. This will help your brain and body to actively switch into work mode and to be ready for the day. Make sure you encourage your team and yourself to do this.
An effective way to keep your team engaged is scheduling daily or weekly check-ins and video calls to catch up and discuss priorities. This can also be a great means for gaining social interaction which remote work often lacks. Use this time to answer any questions your team might have and ensure them that you are there to support them.
4. Collaborate more
Working from home for a prolonged period could feel isolating for some. Don’t let it take a toll on your team by encouraging collaboration. When you take on a new project, think of how you can bring your team members into it so you can work as a unit. Brainstorming ideas and coming up with solutions together can effectively combat the sense of separateness.
Use the collaborative process to learn what are the strengths of your team members when working together. This will enable you to grow as a team and come out on top in future projects.
Trust is the key foundation to enabling your team to work from home effectively. If you communicate to your team that you trust them to be autonomous working from home, they will reciprocate by being respectful and living up to expectations. Having trust and respect is a two-way street, after all. Letting your team know you depend on them to carry out their duties on their own can even empower them to take ownership of their roles and give 110% and beyond.
Create a strong support system to help them excel and focus on interaction and connection. This will not only be good for your business, but for your team’s mental health which should be your top priority right now.
Use tech such as Slack, WhatsApp, Yammer, etc to create group chats where your team can communicate with each other.
Set up video conferences for team catch ups. Often, just seeing each other’s faces can make a huge difference to team spirit.
Encourage your team to take breaks, get outside and get adequate rest and exercise. It may seem obvious, but especially for those that live alone, keeping their head down in work for too long a period can create an unhealthy work life balance which could lead to burnout and job role resentment.
Aside from team meetings, check in with individuals on a 1-2-1 basis. Keep those personal connections going strong, check in on everyone’s mental health and demonstrate that you care about them as people.
RED Executive's Managing Director Andy Duke advises 'Encourage your team to just pick up the phone/video – just as they would in the office when surrounded by colleagues, like a chat around the coffee machine. Small talk and socialising are a critical part of everyone’s workday, and clearly, we are all lacking this when we work from home. So encourage them to just call/video a colleague even if it’s just for a chat about the weather!
And if your team are finding it all too much, it’s okay to put everything down and walk away from it. Take 30 mins, go for a walk, talk to the dog, phone a friend/family member…. have a cup of tea! So anything you want except for work! Mental health is so important at this time and a break will probably help you come back refreshed and ready to crack that problem with gusto!'
These are new and uncertain times for us all. The best attitude is to be adaptable to change, test what works and what doesn’t and continue to provide support and communications to your teams. Use this an excuse to find new ways of working to get the most out of your people and business.
Reach out to RED if you’d like to discuss your SAP teams and how best we can support during this time.