For those of us who are used to working alongside a team in a shared office and have been sequestered to our homes to continue doing our jobs, working in isolation is sure to have been a big adjustment.
Communication is key, and becomes even harder when we're all doing it through screens and emails. We're not robots it's important to try and stay connected for our mental wellbeing, which in turn will make us more productive and better at working through the to-do list.
Managing a team remotely is something Beck Wadworth, founder of stationery brand An Organised Life, is very familiar with. Having moved back to Auckland from Australia two years ago, she left her team running her business in Sydney.
"It was a nerve-wracking time," she says, "but with a positive mindset, my love for organisation and trust for my small but mighty team we have managed to do it and successfully at that, having our biggest year of growth in 2019 while only being all together in person for a few days each month."
Here are her top tips for managing a team remotely:
Communicate a lot
It may sound simple but communicating in a clear and effective manner is hugely important when managing a team remotely. Engage with your team on a daily basis through some form of communication.
Try not to over-complicate it create a strategy that works for your team and stick to it. Be thorough with your detail though dot all the i's & cross all the t’s to ensure everything is clear and understood.
For example, every Monday we have a virtual Work In Progess thread and because I’m two hours ahead in New Zealand it’s perfect I can do all the reporting, look over the business and our plans as a whole, and start the WIP conversation.
Every week the format of the WIP remains the same. Once the team in Australia is in the office they review my notes and can respond when ready. We all start off the week with a clear focus and direction, knowing the goals and priorities for each team member.
Of course, we love a face-to-face catch up too which brings me to my next tip.
Along with our Monday WIP, we also have a virtual coffee catch up on a Wednesday morning via Google Hangouts it's at the same time every week for consistency and we all make sure we have a list of everything we want to touch base on so we can utilise the time to our advantage.
We run over how we are progressing for the week, any changes, questions, ideas etc. It’s also so nice to chat personally too everyone’s human and it’s important to support your team members when you are working remotely.
We have numerous shared documents, folders and spreadsheets that we constantly review, update and follow to ensure we are all across every part of the business.
Plus, another technology touchpoint we utilise is WhatsApp for any necessary calls, texts or image sharing throughout the week.
Set clear expectations
Another important way to manage a team remotely is to ensure you set clear expectations.
How will your team know they have met your standards from afar? What does ‘quickly’ mean to you and your team? And what does a level of ‘amazing’ mean to you and your team? Are you on the same page?
As a leader and a manager, it’s important to set clear expectations.
Focus on your goals together
When working remotely as a team it's important to all be in unison with your core overarching goals. Focus on them together, work on them together, achieve them together and, of course, celebrate together.
Whether it be as simple as reaching monthly budgets, or a certain core project to bigger goals, come together as a team to tick these off.
For us personally, we are all across big and small goals as a team for the An Organised Life brand.
From hitting monthly targets no matter what area of the business someone is in it all helps, to new goals that come with everything going on in the world, to looking after our amazing AOL community and supporting them.
We are big fans of having them visible so we see them repeatedly as a team on shared documents, shared calendars and more.
Trust your team
Trusting your team is a must. Of course, trust must be earned, but the sooner you trust your team, the sooner you will grow and conquer together. Let them flourish. If you follow all the other tips above you should be on the right track.
Personally with my team, I offer a very flexible workplace and trust them. If they want to work from home (which of course the majority are at the moment), if they want to go for a long lunch or leave early I know and trust that they are able to do this without affecting our goals for the week.
Coach and support
And lastly, invest in your relationships with your team. Empathise with them, have fun with them, support them, coach them.
Show you are supportive and by their side to help them tick off their goals even from afar. Continue to coach and educate them in areas they want to grow in.
Building a strong relationship with your team will go a long way.