Since the start of the pandemic, working remotely has become a standard way of working for many companies. It’s also likely this will continue to be the case in the upcoming future. Working from home certainly comes with some challenges but also offers some opportunities to work in a different way.
One of the first challenges managers are facing is social isolation. People are by default ‘social beings’, longing for a true connection with their colleagues. Since we don’t work in the same space anymore, the moments of personal, non-planned interactions are becoming scarce. No encounters at the coffee machine, no chit chat during lunch etc. We now see that these moments are truly missed: it’s more difficult to be aware of personal issues or needs someone is facing, information sharing ‘on-the-go’ is missing, quickly balancing ideas with your colleagues is difficult … These unofficial moments that create togetherness with your team and with fellow managers are usually quite a good indicator of what is living on the work floor. So how can you make sure you still can create those moments and keep the deep connection?
Another challenge for managers is how they can follow up progress on the work that needs to be done. A lot of team leaders see it as part of their responsibility to supervise the work their team is doing. Regular checks on progress, quickly intervene when needed is now much more difficult. As a manager, you don’t want to be seen as a micro-manager and you also want your team members to feel empowered and trusted. At the same time, some teams or team members need a lot of guidance and feedback. When your entire team is working remotely, it’s often very difficult to find the right balance between connecting with your team, giving guidance and advise and making sure your team feels your trust and feels empowered.
A third big challenge is making sure you keep the collaboration going with your team and between your team members. Especially when people have to work on the same project, they usually feel the need to do this 'in person’. Brainstorming, working out solutions, finding how you can offer your customer or client the best experience possible etc: when everyone is working remotely, you need the right tools and knowledge to be able to do this in the best and most efficient way possible. This asks a lot of learning, flexibility and adapting from all parties involved: discovering the tools, applications and platforms that help you most, learning how all these digital solutions work and convincing your team to use them. Recognizable challenges for every manager and team member.
Question now is: how can you ease this transition and make sure the deep connection with your team is kept? How do you make sure you keep the right balance between supervising and giving trust? How can you make sure you and your team have the right skills to keep the collaboration on a good level?
Managing a team remotely asks excellent communication skills. Spending time on developing your communication skills is certainly not a waste of resources. It will enable you to connect with your team, to stay involved and to keep your team involved.
Good communication skills alone are not enough. Working remotely also means that your role as a manager sometimes changes. From being excellent at managing ‘work’, you need to become even more excellent at managing ‘people’. People skills were obviously already important in the past, but managers really need them to be ready for the future.
To be ready for the future also means upskilling the digital savviness of all people involved. Now is not the time to cut training hours or to decrease resources allocated to learning and development. On the contrary: it will help you and your team to stay connected, to enhance involvement and engagement and to reach the results and objectives. We all have to keep on developing our set of leadership skills, increase our knowledge of digital tools, applications and platforms so we can manage and lead our organization towards success.
Would you like to know more? We set up 7 habits for managing a team remotely with 20 tools that will make your online collaborations much easier too!
The ORMIT Greenhouse offers development tracks that stimulate ownership, collaboration, leadership and self-reflection. More information can be found here