The 5 Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

Apr 27, 2020


The 5 Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

COVID-19 incited the work from home (WFH) rush of the 21st century, causing many employers to shift exclusively to remote work for the foreseeable future. Many employers and workers alike are quickly learning that effective remote management is not as easy as sending a Zoom invite and saving money on office space and utilities.

Are you new to the world of remote work? Here are 6 Tips for Staying Accountable and Productive While Working Remote. Or maybe you’re just wondering what it’s like to work from home? Check out these Real-Life Accounts of Working Remote During COVID-19.

For those feeling unsure of how to best lead their team from afar, we’ve pulled together our top 5 tips for employers to manage their remote employees more effectively.

1) Get Equipped

Working from home is not as simple as opening your laptop and wearing pajamas from the waist down. Multiple factors and practices must be in place so your team can stay accountable and productive while working remote.

Here are some of the basic things you might need:

  • A computer loaded with work software: If your organization issues laptops to employees, then you’re already ahead of the game. If you do not issue devices or if your employees are used to relying on desktop machines—things can get complicated. There are many options for providing hardware, such as allowing employees to take desktop machines home or allowing employees to work on personal devices, but ramifications in regards to security, help-desk support and software licensing should be considered. Even if you are issuing company laptops, review your Mobile Device Management strategy to ensure that the proper security controls are in place to prevent data leakage.

  • An internet connection: While most people view the internet as a utility, you should never assume that all employees share that belief. Employees may live in areas with limited internet access that can make high-bandwidth activities, such as video conferencing, pretty difficult. 

  • VPN access: On-premise employees usually operate within the internal network with simplified access to internal drives and other capabilities that aren’t available off-network. Virtual private networks can be used to securely connect to the company network but may also bring challenges with setup, connection, speed and support. 

2) Utilize Team Collaboration Software

Equipping your employees with online team communication software can make or break a remote team. Slack, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts, Zoom and Skype are just a few useful platforms to consider.

The Jumpstart Foundry team tends to use Google Hangouts for shorter meetings and Zoom for extended meetings, like our all-day virtual company offsite. It’s critical to equip employees with software that allows direct communication via video conferencing, so you can pick up on non-verbal cues that may not translate through a text message.

3) Stand Up!

In a typical office setting, water cooler discussions, office drive-bys and friendly lunches all make it easy to stay up-to-date with key tasks everyone is focusing on. When working from home, it can be much harder to keep everyone informed and on the same page. Regular virtual standup meetings offer your team the opportunity to replicate these casual conversations and “heads ups” that happen organically in a physical office environment.

While there are literally books written on perfecting the art of the standup meeting, we recommend the following practices:

  • Be consistent: Schedule the standup to occur at the same time, with the same people, using the same process each day. This builds a sense of familiarity while helping people share more transparently and get in the groove of communicating more efficiently. 

  • Be concise: Standup meetings are not the time for full status reports and lengthy updates. Try to keep your stand ups to 15 minutes or less so they don’t morph into yet another meeting. If there are matters that require more attention, you can always address them after the stand up.

4) Lay Ground Rules for Remote Workers

Figure out your process, educate the team and stick to it. At Jumpstart, we simply ask each member participating in the morning stand up what tasks they plan to accomplish that day and if there are any impediments or obstacles that could prevent the work from being completed. This ensures that everybody is on the same page for the day ahead and helps remove obstacles.

  • Show yourself: Repeat after me, “I will turn on my webcam!” Since almost all video conferencing platforms offer a “call in” option, it can be tempting to just phone-in to team calls. Unfortunately, when employees join virtual meetings without enabling the video/webcam feature, managers are deprived of non-verbal cues given off through body language that could help you sense irregularities within your team. It also makes interactions much more impersonal, which can cause damage to your team’s cultural connection. Bite the bullet, set the tone and turn on the webcam.

  • Have some grace: Working in an office environment eliminates many unexpected distractions that can occur on the home front. Some of our team has been experiencing these interruptions on a daily basis…

“In my case, by working from home I have added 2 small dogs, 2 cats, a 2.5 year old, a 5 month old and a wife to my work environment—all of whom seem to be set on finding new and exciting ways to interact with me at random times throughout the day,” – Brian Dougherty, COO, Jumpstart Foundry

Other individuals may live in places with different challenges, such as trains that pass by their homes on a regular basis.

“My home is ~40 feet from the train that runs through East Nashville almost every hour,” said Sydney Ergle, Jumpstart’s Brand Marketing Manager. “I like to keep my windows open but I have to be careful when I have meetings. The train is so loud and can totally derail (ha ha) the conversation.”

Few people have a perfect WFH environment bereft of distractions, so if you’re on a video conference and see a cat attack an employee, hear a train speed by or witness a child seemingly become possessed by the devil himself, have some grace and laugh it off. Should you be on the receiving end of such an occurrence, don’t forget to hit the mute or webcam button to mitigate the distraction as much as possible. 

  • Ask the tough questions: Working from home eliminates many of the interactions that happen between you and your team in the office. Therefore, it becomes even more critical to make each interaction count. Especially in these unprecedented times, be sure to ask your team members how they are doing and handling everything on a personal level. We’re all thirsting for human interaction and your genuine concern and curiosity goes a long way.

5) Take a Daily Pulse on Your Team and Show That You Care

It’s easy to get acquainted with people who physically sit in the same room with you five days out of the week. You quickly become familiar with each person’s personality, you’re able to recognize areas of strength and can even anticipate when an employee may need a little extra help. As a manager, demonstrating the willingness to put forth a little extra effort to be perceptive and approachable can work wonders for team morale and productivity, especially when working from home.

Looking for more uplifting content to get you through these scary times?

Check out the JSF resources page to see what we’re up to and get the latest news in health innovation.

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