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Over the past two years, the pandemic has forced us to establish a new normal, both personally and professionally. For many organizations, part of this new normal has included working entirely remote or adopting a hybrid work schedule. According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, nearly a quarter of the workforce in the United States worked remotely in some capacity prior to the pandemic. As organizations continue to promote remote work, there are a few lessons to be learned from veteran teleworkers as seasoned and first-time managers assume their roles from home. While management styles can vary from individual to individual and across industries, there are common challenges most managers experience while leading their teams from the comfort of their own homes. Some common challenges include the lack of face-to-face supervision, lack of access to information and social isolation amongst employees. In addition, as the number of meetings increases, time for productivity and implementation can decrease.

Tips for Managing Virtual Teams

Here are a few strategies leaders can implement to better manage their remote and hybrid teams:

  • Schedule daily check-ins. Working from home makes it difficult to check-in with employees or answer questions that may arise. Experts suggest scheduling daily check-ins using a video conferencing platform to establish face time and present the opportunity to provide feedback.
  • Get buy-in. Teams that buy-in to a common goal are more likely to persevere through change and uncertainty, especially when there is trust within the team and in the manager. Reminding your team of your common goals and the overall vision of your work can help your team feel accountable to their work and to each other.
  • Instill tech into daily practices. Teams must establish channels of communication beyond daily check-ins. Using technology to communicate consistently, especially when it comes to designating tasks, duties, and responsibilities is common among the most successful teams. Tools like Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts and Microsoft Teams make checking-in with team members equivalent to stopping by someone’s office for a quick debrief.
  • Establish rules and habits. While technology plays a crucial role in the success of remote teams, managers must establish rules of engagement when it comes to different tech platforms. For example, some teams may use messenger tools for items that are urgent, while video check-ins are for scheduled meetings.
  • Focus on outcomes. Working from home has its distractions, especially when children or significant others occupy the same space. Managers should focus on an employee’s productivity and final outcomes rather than how long they are logged into their work computers. Managers can do this by clearly defining goals and desired outcomes and allow their employees to create their own plan of action.
  • Celebrate small wins. Leaders of successful teams remember to celebrate small wins, especially when the nature of their work does not produce big results quickly. With team members scattered all over the country, it’s especially important to schedule time to celebrate progress, no matter how incremental.

As organizations continue to offer remote work and hybrid schedules to their team members, managers and leaders will be forced to adjust their management styles. While successfully managing remote teams is possible, it takes time, consistency and daily resolve. However, by prioritizing the health of your team, your organization and employees will benefit.

Photo by Anna Shvets:

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