Most states have enacted shelter-in-place orders due to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. This has forced millions of office workers to work from home. Now that your employees are no longer centralized, how do you best manage a team remotely while maintaining your company’s strict security standards? It’s a significant challenge, even for experienced managers.
Challenges of Managing a Remote Team
Managing workers in multiple locations is different from managing a team in one location. The lack of face-to-face interaction makes it difficult to effectively communicate, and the remote nature of the work creates considerable cybersecurity risks.
When managing a remote team, the most significant challenges include the following:
- Lack of face-to-face supervision
- Difficulty in motivating team members
- Difficulty tracking individual employee performance
- Lack of face-to-face interaction with teammates
- Difficulty in maintaining team cohesion
- Inability to immediately access necessary information
- Inadequate communications tools
- Issues with remote technology
- Social isolation and loneliness
- Distractions in the home environment – including demands of distance-learning children
- Difficulty in maintaining proper security standards
7 Proven Steps for Managing Remote Teams
Fortunately, while managing a remote team may be new to you, it’s something that other managers have been doing for some time. Before the coronavirus crisis, close to 5 million U.S. employees worked from home at least part-time. Learning from their experience, here are seven steps any manager can take to manage their remote teams effectively.
1. Be Flexible
Given the huge numbers of employees who’ve been forced to work from home due to the coronavirus, it’s important to be flexible in terms of what you expect. Many of these employees have never worked remotely before and don’t know what it entails. These folks have to deal with setting up a home office, learning new technology, and distractions from spouses and children home from school. It’s all new to them, and you need to be understanding of what they’re going through. That means having flexible expectations and deadlines – and adapting to the situation as it evolves.
2. Don’t Worry About Activity – Focus on Results
When managing employees in a traditional office, it’s natural to focus on how hard everyone is working. You keep an eye on what time employees arrive in the morning, when they leave in the evening, and how busy they are in between. That’s the exact wrong approach to take with remote workers, especially newly remote ones, who might stretch a work day over 12 hours but spend a large chunk of the day taking care of personal business. Focus on the results your team gets, not how they get them. Do you really care if someone has to take an hour or two off to help their kids with homework if they complete all their projects on time?
3. Manage Expectations
Employees new to working from home may think they can be just as productive as they were in the office. They probably can’t — at least initially. You may expect your team to maintain the same levels of productivity as before, but that might be expecting too much. You need to have reasonable expectations as to what can be accomplished in this new work-from-home environment – and to manage the expectations of team members.
4. Establish Daily Check-Ins
Because remote work can be somewhat without form, it helps to provide a little structure for your team’s day. The best way to do this is by requiring daily check-ins, either individually or via a team video conference. You want to provide a predictable forum to find out how projects are progressing and how employees are dealing with their new situation.
5. Offer the Necessary Support
Your employees may face technical issues related to working from home. Make sure they have immediate access to IT staff so they can stay productive. They may also have emotional issues due to the change in their daily routines. Lend a sympathetic ear and offer encouragement and emotional support as needed.
6. Communicate Frequently – and Encourage Communication Among Employees
Those daily check-ins should only be one way you communicate with your remote staff. Encourage them to message you if they have issues, and feel free to check in with them during the day. You should also encourage your employees to communicate with each other. It’s easy to become isolated from the team when working from home. You may have to push them to maintain the necessary social interaction with each other.
7. Offer Multiple Secure Communications Options
To best facilitate group collaboration, you need to provide employees with several ways to communicate with each other. According to a recent survey, 88% of remote workers use email, 47% use instant messaging, 36% participate in video conferences, 32% communicate via VoIP voice/video calls, and 28% use some sort of unified enterprise communications solution. It’s imperative that your organization offer all these communication options. Not only that, but these channels must also all be fully secure so bad actors can’t access sensitive communications and data.
AWS Wickr: The Flexible and Secure Remote Communications Platform
AWS Wickr offers the various communications and collaboration options that remote workers need, along with the robust security your business demands. AWS Wickr offers text, voice, and video calling, voice and video conferencing, and file and screen sharing – all protected by end-to-end encryption. It’s the ideal communications platform for enterprises worldwide.