Remote work: how to manage your team remotely?

Since the start of the covid crisis, the explosion of remote work has transformed the way we work. Today, 40% of employees have adopted it and over 80% are supportive of it. A report from the Sapiens Institute even estimates that remote work has saved more than 200 billion euros of GDP in 2020.

Remote work has given employees more freedom and flexibility, but it has also created specific problems, including stress and a feeling of loneliness among some employees. According to a Harris Interactive survey, 48% of employees today feel isolated and 35% of them anxious. To be both effective and virtuous, remote work must therefore be practiced under good conditions. So, how do you manage your team well despite the distance?

Remote work has given employees more freedom and flexibility, but it has also created new risks.

The four challenges of remote management

Managing a remote team well means finding the right balance between managing individuals, maintaining social ties and stimulating collective intelligence. This type of management aims to support and engage employees on a daily basis in order to avoid any misunderstanding, loss of motivation or feelings of being lost.

To manage effectively and interact healthily with their employees, managers must keep in mind the following 4 challenges of remote management:

  1. Communication problems. It is about multiplying your efforts to maintain regular and clear communication with remote employees. It is necessary to communicate effectively on daily tasks, on strategy and vision but also on personal situations of employees. Are objectives clearly identified? Do team members feel they have the support they need? Managers have to aim to avoid any feeling of isolation.

  2. Organizational difficulties. When working remotely, it is more complicated for managers to understand how their teams work, their habits and dynamics. What tools are used? What are everyone's hours? What are they working on?

  3. Performance monitoring. Managers should keep everyone's deliverables in mind, ensure that objectives are achieved, ensure that working time is used efficiently and optimally.

  4. Lack of trust and cohesion in teams. It is obviously more complicated to bring the corporate culture to life and maintain a feeling of belonging when working from home. It is therefore a matter of bringing teams together regularly, but also of avoiding micromanagement to create a pleasant and healthy working climate.

Best practices for remote management

So, what can you do concretely as a manager to make remote management work smoothly? The good news is that all managers have the ability to take simple actions that can make a difference on the day-to-day of their teams.

All managers have the ability to take simple actions to facilitate the day-to-day of remote teams

Here are some practical tips:

  • Make sure that your team works in optimal conditions: whether it strictly concerns individual setups (comfortable office setup, internet connection, equipment and work tools available) or family organization (schedules and children or personal requirements), it is important to take stock with each employee to better understand their situation and identify what they might be missing.

  • Be organized and precise: plan meetings and agendas well, not to waste participants' time, but also to identify topics and their degree of urgency and importance. Remember to prioritize.

  • Share common goals and make sure they are understood and realistic: they should be stimulating without becoming a source of stress.

  • Focus on the result and tasks accomplished, not on the activity or the number of hours worked. One of the rules of remote working is that managers cannot control the way their teams work, they must therefore judge the efficiency and productivity of their teams through progress made on objectives. Each team works differently but you can have an in-depth look of what it means for a remote product development for example.

  • Manage the workload, respect the right to disconnect and have a certain flexibility in working hours.

  • Adapt to each team member: a young professional will need more support and guidance than a more experienced team member.

  • Detect weak signals by setting up regular points with each member of the team to discuss the topics that matter: mood, priorities, achievements, challenges and roadblocks, important topics...

  • Give feedback, listen, recognize a job well done, take the time to thank team members. Taking care of your employees humanizes relationships and builds trust and confidence.

  • Create moments of sharing and conviviality ; set up rituals to bring employees together.

A new role for managers

As we can see, the context of remote work is demanding for both employees and managers. For remote work to work well over time, managers must be particularly attentive to weak signals from their teams and set up rituals and regular exchanges.

The distanciation of teams with remote work gives an increasingly central place to managers. Through their continuous interactions with their teams, they sometimes even come to supplement the work of HR who obviously cannot get involved in the daily life of each team. Managers are on the front line to ensure the continuity of operations and identify psychosocial risks among their team members.

This new role cannot be improvised. It requires clear support from top management, the method and the appropriate tools. Without this, managers can quickly be overwhelmed and run out of time to properly support their remote collaborators.

This is why it is important to adopt the right tools: you can't pretend nothing has changed! Management tools like Popwork can facilitate the implementation of new remote management rituals. Popwork makes it possible to survey the morale and work of employees every week. This helps managers identify important topics and deal with them well. It also helps maintain a strong bond with each employee and promotes effective collaboration and follow-up, week after week.