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5 Tips for Managing a Remote Team
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5 Tips for Managing a Remote Team

By Matt Oechsli | @mattoechsli

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, working remotely has become the new normal. As simple as it might sound, this is not a natural transition for many people. When you add in the fact that schools are closed and children are home, and that people aren’t able to get out of the house as much as they’re accustomed to, you’ve got a recipe for stress. It’s important to help your team remain calm, focused, and engaged.

The following are 5 Tips for managing a dispersed workforce…

1. Know each team member’s personal circumstance.

Are they able to set up a home office? What equipment will they need? Will there be children at home that need attention? Are any of their family members in the vulnerable category (parents, grandparents, etc.)? Understanding their reality is essential in understanding how you’ll work together in the coming weeks.

2. Modify your communication.

Working remotely will require you to reformat your team’s communication. In times of crisis where everyone’s emotions are, at best a bit frayed, it’s important to communicate on a personal level. Use this as an opportunity to sharpen your video conferencing skills. Also think through your internal chat. Do you use a chat service like Slack? We find it helpful for the quick back and forths you’d usually have in the office.

3. Set daily output goals.

Ask your team to start the day by sending you a list of what they plan to accomplish. It may feel odd initially, but many of them will find they actually like this exercise over time. Join in the fun and send them your task list as well.

4. Share best practices for working from home.

There are more and more guides available on working from home. Read up and share the best practices you find. For example:

If you’re distractible, get ready for work every morning like you are going to physically go into work. Dress up, do your hair — whatever you’d normally do. This puts you in a professional mindset.
Yuki Noguchi, NPR, 8 Tips To Make Working From Home Work For You

5. Protect your workspace.

Talk to family members or roommates about the hours you are working from home and the ground rules during those hours. Assume that anything that can interrupt you will interrupt you – like a UPS delivery during a critical negotiation call or a dog barking in the background of a client video chat. Be as proactive as you can about avoiding these kinds of incidents.
Lindsey Pollak and Eileen Coombes, Inc., 23 Essential Tips for Working Remotely

DJ Haddad is CEO of Haddad & Partners, a full-service creative agency that employs over 65 people and has worked with international brands such as Microsoft, Capital One, Citibank, Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Sallie Mae, and HBO. In terms of working remotely, he says, “I am lucky to work with the greatest team on the planet, and somehow we have all become friends and created this amazing chemistry. Just like in a real office environment, we joke around, we make fun of each other, we make stupid GIFs of each other, we share high school prom photos, vacation photos, we live-chat while watching the Oscars, etc. We have team chats for everything — book club, employees with kids, employees without kids, competitions, etc. It makes it easy for us to still have fun and have ‘water cooler talk’ throughout the day.”
Elisette Carlson, Entrepreneur, 10 Tips From CEOs on Working From Home Effectively and Happily

These 5 Tips are simply a starting point to help you create some structure within these unprecedented times. Anticipate the dynamics within your team to change as people begin to work remotely. Some will hit the ground running, others will have to adjust, and still, others might have a tendency to slack off. As team leader, you will have to stay in-tune to these internal dynamics and be willing and able to make the necessary adjustments.

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  • You hold a team meeting… and everyone leaves with clarity
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  • You hold a review meeting… and your client understands your real value
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