Updated: Jun 16, 2020
As remote work continues to increase it is important that managers are not only keeping their teams accountable but that they can provide the tools needed to help their teams succeed. When I speak with leaders and organizations their focus is mostly on how to manage employees but I rarely hear companies focusing on what the leaders have to do for them their teams to be successful. Even before millions of businesses had to close and remote work was one of the few options to keep organizations open, companies have been struggling with managing remote teams.
Before you think about what your direct reports need to do, here are the 5 essential remote work expectations you need to set for yourself as a leader:
Have documents accessible: Use a cloud-based system (Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, etc) and store your most important team documents. Make these documents shareable and encourage your team to add notes and comments to keep them relevant and timely. Set clear rules on what can and cannot be shared based on your industry (HIPAA, privacy policies, etc).
Connect with your team weekly: Supervision meetings are important, but you also need to find at least 2 opportunities to check on your staff via email or chat. A quick start-of-the-week email with the goals for the team, an interesting article that you read, a free or low-cost professional development opportunity, or a funny quote or meme. Let your team know, close or far, that they are part of a larger group and you are accessible and thinking about their development.
Keep your calendar updated: Schedule and block work time, travel, breaks, out of office, and meeting times so everyone in your team knows when you are available. Share your calendar with your team and encourage them to block time to connect with you in addition to any regular supervision or check-in meetings.
Respect your employees' work time: Set reasonable expectations for responding to messages and emails for all staff including yourself and respect uninterrupted work time on calendars. If you were at an office and an employee or peer was working on a tight deadline or on the phone you wouldn't interrupt them. The same must happen with breaks and lunchtime. Just because someone is working remotely or from home doesn't mean they are not working.
Use an instant team communication system: I am not sure what is worst, twenty 1 line emails, or a full paragraph instant message. Decide as a team or with leadership how daily communication will work. Use a team communication system such as Slack, Skype IM, or Google Hangouts, and maintain short communication out of the inbox. If a follow-up is required or if you need to explain something at length then move it to the inbox.
If you or your organization needs additional support to set up remote work or additional training on managing remote teams, schedule a free Discovery Call with our team.