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Tips for managing remote teams

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by Charlotte Gurney

Many leaders today are finding themselves managing an entirely remote team or a hybrid working team. By the end of 2021, 51% of all knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely, up from 27% of knowledge workers in 2019, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner also estimates that remote workers will represent 32% of all employees worldwide by the end of 2021. 

Large segments of the modern workforce have been successfully working remote for years. Here are some tips to help ensure you and your team successfully navigate the remote working challenges: 

1. Communicate Regularly. If your team is used to an office environment, they could begin to feel isolated and lonely as the days go on. Schedule group video chats on a regular basis to stay connected - services like Zoom or Google's Team Hangouts make this relatively easy for all. At first, these group chats should be held every day. 

2. Identify and provide the right tools. An important aspect of successfully managing remote employees is to make all necessary tools easily accessible as needed. To meet that need, leaders and teams may have to work through what should be put in place to ease a telecommuting transition.

Remote employees need the same access to things utilized by onsite employees, which may include (but are not limited to):

- Policy and procedure manuals

- Presentation templates and supplies

- Mail supplies and stationery

- Software programs

- Corporate credit card

3. Manage Expectations. As you would in the office, set yourself and your team up for success by clearly stating both the assigned tasks and the reasons behind them, and help your team understand exactly how you will measure success. That means defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. 

4. Focus on Outcomes. It's not possible to manage every aspect of the work done by a remote team, so don’t try to micromanage. Instead of focusing on activity, focus on the outcomes and measure your team accordingly. 

Tips to Support Team Members with Children at Home 

1. Be Flexible while parents/caregivers, especially those with small children, have adjusted to the new environment, they will still need your support and understanding. These team members can be accountable to complete their work, but you need to trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get the work done on whatever schedule helps them be the most productive. They might need to start super early or work late, or catch up on a Saturday morning to meet a deadline. Trust them to manage their time and focus on the outcome. Stay connected to review their time-management strategies. Offer support and constructive recommendations. 

2. Encourage Self Care - parents/caregivers are juggling many responsibilities. Make sure they spend some of their time taking a break for themselves. Your care and consideration of their circumstance will go a long way to keeping them sane and productive.