Technology has changed the way we work. Once upon a time, employees did all of their work at the office as that was where files were kept and colleagues met. At CREATIVE ZONE, we have many clients that work remotely, without a fixed office space and have teams that they manage from a distance. Whilst the traditional office setup has certain advantages: impromptu meetings, face to face interaction etc. most companies nowadays have a different dynamic.
Employees can now accomplish many business functions from the comfort of their own home, neighbourhood coffee shop and hot desk facilities. Technology has changed the way people do business, and therefore, it has also changed the way managers lead.
Here are five keys to leading a remote workforce:
1. Leverage Technology:
Just because you do not see team members in person everyday, it does not mean that all communication needs to be relegated to the handful of times everyone gets together. Several technologies that allow you to still collaborate are FaceTime, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting and of course, the phone.
These tools will help you connect with members of the team and get a feel for their emotions. A quick phone call is a good way to stay in touch, further your relationships and keep up to date.
2. Be Available:
In office setups, you may be the type of leader where “your door is always open.” However, how do you maintain that sense of availability for a remote team? One way that you can do this is to use an available or unavailable signal. Many email programs have built in status tools that let employees know when you are available. This is similar to leaving the door to your office open or closed.
You can also schedule more one-on-one meetings or calls throughout the month. These sessions would enable you to connect with the team members involved, as well as to cut down on unarranged calls.
Because the team knows when they would have a time for the manager’s undivided attention, this would reduce all the unnecessary calls. Alternatively, you could let your team know when the best hours are in which to contact you.
3. Set Expectations:
Many managers will wonder if employees are abusing the privilege or working remotely. It becomes increasingly clear if someone’s not in the right work arrangement because you would have set clear expectations. If their expectations are not being met, working remotely may not work for that person.
Availability: Clearly communicate to team members when you expect them to be ‘online’, reachable by phone, text, email, chat, etc. For example, this would be between the hours of 9am to 5pm where employees would be available to the rest of the team or to clients.
Productivity: A remote worker’s output should be no different than if they were in an office. Simply stating shared and measurable objectives for a remote team member eliminates the temptation to micromanage the person for fear that they are slacking.
Meeting Attendance: If you have the right employees, then it is likely members of your team will thrive when working remotely. Many employees enjoy the work-from-home benefits, however, they may become accustomed to the freedom. This may result in some protesting against required office visits.
Leaders need to set team expectations early. As a leader, you should let employees know at the beginning of the quarter which meetings they will be required to travel to. You should allow some room for flexibility by telling them to expect the occasional unplanned meeting.
4. The Power of the Face-to-Face Meeting:
Your company’s travel policy and the proximity of each team member may dictate the amount of face-to-face opportunities. But you should go to reasonable lengths to be in front of each team members on at least a few occasions annually.
5. Trust Your Team:
Trust your team to do what they do best. Flexibility in remote work arrangements, when done correctly, is one of the true benefits a company can offer. It is also a trend that will become more popular - therefore, get comfortable and proficient with managing a remote team now!
Take your own first small step and contact the business setup specialist team at CREATIVE ZONE for more information on how to set up a business: +971 4 567 7333 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org