Managing Teams Remotely

Organizations have had to come up with new ways to stay connected with, not only their stakeholders, but with their own staff. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of employees who are now working from home on a daily basis. While this shift has had its share of positive and negative impacts, many organizations are looking for some leading practices they can use to manage their remote workers and keep them engaged while working remotely.

  1. Make Time for Social Events: In the words of Joni Mitchell, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”, and we didn’t realize in-office socializing would be missed so much. From quick chats in the break room to a chance to share weekend stories over lunch, employees may feel like they only see their co-workers at scheduled virtual meetings. Consider some of these options to keep your staff socially connected with one another:
    1. Staff Coffee Time – schedule an optional virtual meeting for staff to take a ‘coffee break’ together.
    2. Game Night – schedule an optional virtual meeting outside of work hours to come together as a team and play an online game, take part in a trivia contest, or connect in a fun atmosphere.
    3. Start an Office Club – Whether it’s a book club or a cooking club, give staff the option to use online platforms to connect outside of work hours to share in a guided/organized activity with one another.
    4. Create a Hobby Sharing Opportunity – Is one of your employees a master baker? Or a fitness guru? Give them the opportunity to share their hobby and expertise with other staff members in a masterclass setting.
    5. Competitions – With the holidays coming, consider challenging employees to post their best decorations or a gift-wrapping challenge for best dressed gift.
  2. Reinvent the Work Atmosphere Digitally: Ensuring that employees continue to feel heard and valued is an important part of the remote work experience. Consider some of these options to keep those valued lines of communication open:
    1. Staff Surveys – Send out regular surveys to staff to allow them to, anonymously, identify how they’re feeling, what’s working with remote work, and what needs to be improved.
    2. Encourage Feedback – After meetings, provide an open floor for anyone who has questions, concerns, or suggestions about any of the topics that were raised in the meeting.
    3. Publicize Contact Methods – Within your office bubble, staff should know how to get in touch with other staff. Ensure that all staff have access to a contact document that would include email, home phone, cell phone, and redirected office phones (if applicable) to ensure that they can reach one another easily and quickly if required.
    4. Schedule One-on-Ones – If applicable, encourage management to regularly reach out for check-ins with staff directly. Whether it’s to discuss work projects, or a quick social call, these conversations keep staff connected and feeling value
    5. Create a Virtual Office – Outside of regular meetings, consider hosting a regular optional virtual office meeting; where employees can work on their own projects while being connected and able to speak to co-workers as if they were all in the same plac
  3. Encourage Good Health Practices: Remote work often means increased screen time on digital devices; from dealing with large amounts of emails to increased participation in online meetings, it can be hard to take a necessary disconnect. Consider some of these options to help your staff keep their health in mind:
    1. Switched-Off Coffee Breaks ­– While you may have digital coffee time for staff, you may also want to encourage staff to take at least one ‘disconnected’ coffee break during the day. Step away from all things digital, including their cell phone, for at least a few minutes.
    2. Change of Scenery – With colder weather outside, working from a backyard or a local park may not be an option, but staff could find other rooms around their home to use to shake up their daily routine.
    3. Encourage Focus on Outcomes/Deliverables, Not Hours – Allow for some flexibility in the daily schedule by encouraging staff to focus on outcomes and goals instead of the amount of hours worked; or encourage staff to shake up their schedule (if possible), by allowing them to structure their day as they see fit. (Instead of working 9 to 5, maybe they work 9 to 1, then take an afternoon break, and resume work from 3 to 7.)

There’s no ultimate approach that works for every organization, and no shortage of other ideas out there that can continue to foster team building and connectivity. Find what works for your organization and implement it to ensure that your teams are working as efficiently, and effectively, from home while keeping them connected as a staff.

Further Reading:

How to Keep Remote Workers Engaged in a Virtual Team

20 Great Virtual Team Building Idea for Remote Teams

10 COVID-Friendly Engaging Games for Team Building

Virtual Team Bonding During COVID-19

Nine Free Remote Team-Building Ideas to Keep Co-Workers Connected