Managing remote staff

With remote work becoming a necessity for many people during these uncertain times, managers and employees must adjust and expand upon existing skills in order to maintain efficient and productive. In recruitment, where team work is essential we have to start thinking outside the box to ensure we keep up the morale as well as producing the same work so we don’t let down any clients or candidates.

We have put together some tips that can help you effectively manage your team in these trying times.

Set and communicate expectations

It can be helpful to set expectations and to share these openly with your team during the transition to remote work. For example, do you intend to meet virtually on a regular day and time during the week? Do you expect updates on certain projects every two weeks, or as they come in? How do you plan on maintaining a KPI structure? There are many more questions one could ask, but it is important for you to make a plan of how to manage our own expectations and then to communicate this to your team so that you are all working together.

Ensure understanding of new processes

Communication is going to be vital in all of our tips! Often, new processes are put in place or daily structure is recommended during a transition to remote work. It’s your job to communicate any changes in processes clearly to your team and ensure everyone understands what to do and who to go to when they encounter potential difficulties such as IT issues or motivational slumps.

Communicate every day via several channels

Talk with your team to understand the best way to communicate with each other, for example within our business we use Teams (a casual chat function with ability to call, video chat, share files, etc.), email, GoTo Meeting (with video conference capability) and of course, phone conversations. Lean into more casual modes of communication so that discussions or chats can happen more frequently. Some other means of communication could be WhatsApp group chats or texting.

It’s important to maintain communication every day is some way which mirrors what a usual work day would be like if you were in the office. This helps people feel involved, less lonely and also more ‘work minded’.

Make time to ‘meet’ socially not just for work

It’s also important to make sure not all chat is work related! Make small talk, discuss weekend plans or other topics that you and your team often chat about. Check in with employees to ensure they are adjusting well to changes and if not, reach out further to help them. Creating time for socialising is important to maintain good morale and team alignment.

Talk to your team members individually

It’s great to talk to your team in group chats, but make sure you are taking time to meet with employees one-on-one. Make sure you are talking sincerely, openly and for a decent amount of time so that each of your team members knows you are available to them if they need you. Not only that, but not everyone will feel comfortable sharing their questions or hardships in a group setting so making time for personal conversations is a great way for you to understand everyone’s needs and to get informed. Ultimately the more information you have about your team’s situation the better you will be able to manage them.

On a work level, one-on-one conversations can help clear any misunderstanding and ensure you are both on the same page when it comes to what tasks need to be achieved.

Use GIFs and emoticons in conversation

Tone is hard to convey in messages online. It can help to use emoticons or animated pictures such as GIFs to communicate emotions and help each other laugh. This may be a foreign art to some, however it can make a huge difference to how the person on the other end receives (or rather, perceives) a message. So, it is a worthwhile tip to learn about. If you are unsure about this one, consult with someone on your team who may be more familiar with how to insert images into written conversation.

Video chat 

Face to face communication is something many people are going to miss during this period of time. Try to video chat; experience people’s smiles and facial expressions and maintain that human interaction. This will again, help with loneliness and morale.

Put trust in your team (and address any issues as they arise)

Please, to save everyone any trouble, do not start to micromanage your team. Trust that they will fulfil their role no matter what routine they find is best for them. If there are performance issues occurring, give that team member a call and check in with them. They may need help to adjust to working from home fulltime. This work set up can be great for many, but not everyone prefers to work remotely. Some team members may need extra guidance and motivation.

Focus on goals and outcomes

On that note, don’t worry about how your team is getting their work done. Just have faith in the collective goals that have been set and that they are being achieved in the proposed time. If they have personal goals, this is something that can be discussed in one-on-one meetings and you can help motivate them by asking how they are going with those goals. Not everyone will work on the same schedule from home considering parental duties, home duties and work duties all meshing together. This is okay, as long as they find time that works for them and they are producing what they have promised to.

Ask for feedback, how can you help them?

Finally, you can always ask for feedback. You’re not a mind reader, and it is especially hard to interpret body language or read a room when you are all separate. So, be open and ask for feedback. Consider what they need, what they are struggling with and what they have found helpful. It’s important to remain open to changing initial plans or to create individually catered plans to your staff members. With consistent open communication you will be able to improve your management skills and help lead your team with clarity and transparency.  

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