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How to manage and engage Remote Teams?

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Managing and engaging a remote team as a leader is different for a number of reasons, the primary being: there are no face-to-face interactions.

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While working together in an office, it is easy to walk up to someone for guidance or support, but this simple process turns into planning and scheduling meetings and following up when you’re working online.

So, needless to say, managing and engaging a remote team requires different skills and practices.

Establish a conducive communications channel

There isn’t anything called over-communication while you’re working remotely. Schedule recurring daily, weekly, or bi-weekly meetings to ensure you’re on the same page. Some of the questions you need to ask are:

  • What’s the update on the ongoing project?
  • What dependencies do you have, and on whom?
  • What support do you need from me?
  • What would be your priorities this week?

Open communication would help employees understand what is expected from them in the short- and long term.

Lookout for the hints for stress

Remote work can be isolating. The nondescript office banter, no matter how banal it might seem, is essential, not just for building office friendships but for creating an engaging environment where each team member is supportive of each other. But this sense of kinship with your peers is lacking when you’re working remotely for a long duration or permanently.

So, it is crucial for leaders to stay on the lookout for hints of distress in their employees. Learn how to breach sensitive conversations and let your employees know that it is okay to take mental health days. Moreover, you can suggest alternate working models to your employees to avoid burnout.

Focus on the output, not the process

While working remotely, people are often juggling their professional and personal life at the same time. Many people would have parental duties to cater to, too. This means that your team might work at times unsuitable for you, and they might be unavailable for some meetings.

Schedule meetings at a previously approved time, use collaborative tools and technology to present to each other and have faith in your employees.

Brian Kropp, Vice President, Research, Gartner, believes that what’s getting done is more important than how your team does it. Communicate to them effectively what’s expected so they can schedule how and when to do it.

Increase recognition

Recognition serves two purposes: employees feel motivated and more engaged in their work, and other team members understand what behavior they have to emulate.

According to a recent survey by Gartner, this desire for being recognized increases by 30% in the remote working scenario. In a traditional setup, managers acknowledge and identify the efforts of their employees within the office space. Informally, a simple 'good work' in front of the team works wonders, too. However, the physical space isn't a possibility while working remotely, so you, as a leader, would have to set up formal ways you can recognize their work.

Since there's a lack of visibility while working remotely, ask your employees if they have any hindrances while working and whether their peers tried to help them. This way, you'd be able to recognize efforts and behavior worth rewarding and share those accomplishments with teams.