Be intentional about connecting with people, plus four other effective approaches
In today’s workforce, we have both on-site staff and remote staff. In our current climate and precautions surrounding COVID-19, working remotely has become a necessity for as many people as possible. Leading a remote workforce requires some different skills than managing in person, including setting up different expectations and managing different interactions. Whether there is a short- or long-term need for you to manage remote staff, you may need new ways to manage workflows, workloads, collaboration and keeping staff connected.
Here are a few tips for leaders managing remote workers:
- Leverage technology. Be sure you understand what technologies are available and ensure that your team members have access to them and know how to use them. Several platforms support instant messaging and virtual calls, including GoToMeeting, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, WebEx, Google Hangouts and Skype for Business. Some of these are free to leverage amid COVID-19 and some may be included in software you already utilize.
- Set expectations. Clearly set out the expectations you have for your team, especially any that may not be used to working from home. Discuss whether the change in environment—and the change in society--means adapting working hours, timelines, meetings or other collaboration.
- Be intentional about connecting. When you are working remotely, you don’t have the visual reminder of them walking by to connect with others. Send someone an instant message, give them a call, scheduling more frequent brief (15- to 20- minute) check-ins with your staff.
- Reach out for support. Recognize that it is OK to ask for help. Identify the leaders in your organization or within your network who have experience managing remote teams. Ask for guidance or recommendations on how to support not only your team but yourself.
- Share virtual development opportunities. Development doesn’t have to cease because of physical distancing and virtual work. There are a number of ways to continue to support your staff and their individual development, including asking someone to lead a team huddle, sharing a resource with the team, sharing a CUES Learning Portal pathway or attending a CUES Elite Access course. Continue to support development and identify ways to build or leverage new skills in this virtual world.
Even if you and your entire team are working remotely, you can still lead an effective, collaborative and engaged staff. Use the five steps above to get you rolling.
Jennifer Stangl is director of professional development at CUES.