You are here:

Best Practices for Managing Remote Teams

Posted Jan 04, 2021 10:55 AM
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced nonprofits of all kinds to shift to remote working arrangements. Many are still struggling with the transition. But since the pandemic is still confining workers to their homes for the foreseeable future, it’s worth looking at tips that can improve remote work management.

Here are five of the best practices for managing remote teams:

1. Set expectations

Employers need to set boundaries with their workforce. This is particularly important when deciding on work hours and standard operating procedures. One of the biggest hurdles of working from home is that it blurs the line between work and rest, making it difficult for employees to maintain a healthy work/life balance. This, in turn, leads to decreased productivity and stress. By setting guidelines discouraging checking after-work emails and messages, you’re setting clear expectations, which will benefit both you and your employees’ work lives.

2. Balance regular check-ins with individual employee needs

In remote working setups, you don’t see your employees on a daily basis, so make sure to check in with them from time to time. Ask them how they’re doing and if there’s anything you can do for them. But note that there is a fine line between checking in and becoming overbearing. This is especially the case for parents. Resilience coach L. Barbour points out that having to juggle these personal priorities while working from home is one of the major sources of stress for employees, so it’s important to see how you can compromise instead of expecting them to follow a certain schedule. Communicate with all your employees to learn about what they deal with at home, then adjust accordingly.

Remember: Knowing your employees’ needs is part of setting fair expectations!

3. Adapt time and length of meetings

What worked in the office setting might not work at home. This is especially true for video meetings. “Zoom fatigue” is becoming a widespread phenomenon, and it’s because video meetings are more exhausting than in-person meetings. Participants must focus more intently to understand what’s being said. Plus, they need to keep a steady gaze on the camera, so it won’t seem like they’re unfocused. These are things employees didn’t have to worry about during in-person meetings. So, to make it a little easier on them, try to cut down on meeting times as much as possible.

4. Leverage the right technology

Time tracking and passing deliverables on time are difficult to oversee in the work-from-home setup, so utilize technology to ensure that your employees are making progress. Moving the relevant documents to file-sharing systems like Google Drive or OneDrive makes it easier to keep track of them. As for timing your employees’ hours, applications like Hubstaff or Toggl should do the trick. Then, hold weekly or bi-weekly meetings on Zoom to check up on everyone.

Speaking of Zoom, did you know that there are many alternatives to this popular video conferencing app? Part of utilizing technology is choosing the right application for your workforce, so here are a few alternatives to check out:

  • Skype – Though it doesn’t have features that allow screen-sharing or recording, Skype is free and allows for meetings of up to fifty users. Participants also don’t need a Skype account to join in.
  • Discord – Discord is another free alternative. Popular among gamers, it offers encrypted chats and calls. Its meeting rooms can hold up to fifty people.
  • Google Meet – Google Meet works a lot like Zoom, but is recommended if you use other Google cloud applications like Gmail or Google Drive. It allows you to hold meetings with up to 250 participants, and then save the recording on your Google Drive.

5. Keep an open mind and trust your employees

We know it can be nerve-wracking to lose visibility in regards to your employees, but don’t check up on them too much. Micromanagement will only fatigue them more. In such uncertain times, empathy and understanding go a long way. Keep an open mind. Listen to your employees and give them time off when they need to de-stress. If you’ve followed these five steps, then you’ve already done what you can. It’s time to trust in your employees.

Those were five tips to help you improve the state of remote work for your team. If you need some more assistance, we offer management consulting services that can further improve your remote operations. We can also help with database development, IT infrastructure, financial management, leadership coaching, board development, communications planning, organizational development, and more, so check us out!

About the contributor: Jamiel Styles is a freelance blogger with a strong interest in emerging technologies. She enjoys reading science fiction novels.