A Manager’s Guide To Working With A Newly Remote Team

The sudden and rapid movement to remote working has been jarring and disruptive to many teams. At first, many of our clients talked wistfully about a couple of weeks at home and the chance to skip their commutes. But as the honeymoon period wore off, excitement dwindled and struggles to adjust and thrive in the new normal started to emerge.

Olivia Folick
May 19, 2020

Our clients identified their key challenges as:

  • Isolation
  • Broken communications
  • Unclear norms for how the team operates
  • Rising family pressures and demands 
  • Inconsistent work hours
  • Trouble adhering to deadlines
  • Less frequent and unplanned touchpoints
  • Loss of casual team connection moments

Adjusting and thriving in newly remote teams requires an acknowledgement of this drastic change and explicit conversations about how to make working apart work for your team. 

Establish new team norms

Suddenly, your old team norms may not apply. Come together to commit to new norms that reflect your team’s current realities and take into account each team members’ various circumstances. As a leader, start by understanding what matters most to each team member to make sure these new norms work for everyone. 

Accountability starts with engagement

Targets and timelines only go so far. How can you enable your team members to be accountable and ask for help when necessary? The main answer is engagement. Managers who stay connected in a positive way create morale that spreads. These engaged employees set goals, improve their habits, and ultimately hold one another accountable. Alleviating stress on managers during a challenging transition is crucial to team success. 

Encourage cross-functional collaboration

A key to establishing trust and a strong team is to ensure employees know what one another are working on. This not only creates a strong connection towards a common goal, but also builds trust among employees who might feel they are contributing more. Additionally, business goals can align with employees’ professional development goals. 

Measuring success and continued engagement

Success day-to-day and success in this newfound remote work structure means something different to each employee. Measuring engagement through frequent pulse checks are crucial to connectivity and work productivity. This process aligns team members and allows for different perspectives. If each team member knows what is important to one another, they will be more willing to engage and help each other to accomplish their goals.

So, how do we manage this change?

Change is hard. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t ultimately be positive. Teams that shift to remote work will face uncertainty at the beginning, but will adapt quickly if they have open conversations, take time to understand one another, and make shared commitments to how to work together even while apart. 

Expect some bumps along the way, that is normal. But, remember it’s a part of the process and we’re here to help. 

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