Right now, Working From Home (WFH) has become a necessity due to the Covid-19 situation. It is now a working lifestyle happening all around the world. As a result, there are thousands of team leaders and managers who find themselves overloaded for managing suddenly a completely remote team. That can be scary, especially if it’s the first time they’ve ever had to do so and didn’t have a lot of time to prepare.

If that’s you, this list of tips will help you set up yourself and your team for success.

1. Compensate In-Person Interaction

In-person interaction is what team members miss the most right now. Chit-chats, walking to a colleague to ask for advice. Working remotely feels like we are on our own and team members don’t dare asking for help when they need it. 

  • Set up a constant virtual chatroom for team discussions
  • Use proper tools (Slack, Zoom, Mural, Trello, Tomates, etc)
  • Allow two channels/rooms: work topics & non work related topics
  • Keep it personal. Relationship is key to High Performing Teams
  • Be the MC (master of ceremonies) of these virtual chatrooms! Animate these chats by greeting your team in the morning, encouraging them to go for lunch, wishing them a lovely evening with family. Just as you’d naturally do it at the office

2. Consider Personalities, Get Agreements & Be Flexible

Consider Personalities. Great leaders individualize their approach to leadership and take the time to truly understand what motivates and challenges each team member. Once we understand all our collaborators individually, we need their agreement to establish team rules.

  • Consider personalities: different motives, perceptions, challenges. To understand better your team members approach to WFH, use behavioural assessments (#ICQ Global – Global DISC). This will allow you to convert your team diversity into synergy
  • Get the team to agree on three basic rules:

-“Normal” working hours for the team. When does the workday begin and end? Impact on clients?

-Timeliness in response. How long will it take to get back to each other?

-Notify each other when unavailable or unable to meet expectations

  • Be flexible. Have one-on-one discussions with each team members to determine their most productive work hours (see Tip #6 from my other article “7 Golden Tips for Working From Home”)
  • Work hours must be communicated to the team and all stakeholders to ensure consistency and transparency

3. Meetings, emails & chat overload. It’s even worse in remote mode!

  • Have a daily check-in the first weeks. Your team needs to see you and you need to see them
  • Communicate a lot (chat room) and regurarly. Sense of loneliness and isolation is the worst with WFH
  • Pick up your phone! Centralize emails, make sure interaction happens as in real life
  • Find the right frequency for meetings. Daily/weekly/bi-weekly? But not all or most of the day! Many companies make the terrible mistake of scheduling too many meetings
  • Meetings should be time savers, not a waste of time:

-Daily Check-In (5-10min)

-Weekly Tactical (45-60min)

-Monthly Strategic/Review (2-3h)

4. Video Conferencing

Lead by example: apply all the video conferencing golden rules to yourself so the team get inspired.

  • Establish a video-first culture! Turning your camera on is mandatory to be able to observe non-verbal communication
  • Ask your team to mind their space, background, acoustic if with external parties (see my other article “7 Golden Tips for Working From Home”)
  • Take advantage of technology (break out rooms for small talks, virtual backgrounds, sharing screen, remote desktop access, etc)
  • Ask your team members to mute their microphone when they join. Unmute only when you speak to avoid background noise

5. Set Up and Use Project Management Systems

Project Management (PM) systems help teams to track their tasks and accomplishments.

  • There are many PM Applications available (Basecamp, Trello, Asana, Casual, Omniplan, etc)
  • Get a cloud storage
  • Make sure the whole Team is using the PM system
  • Cascading communication. Provide clarity on your PM status throughout the organization, make sure all layers of management get the information

6. Update process! 

  • Does the actual situation require to change your process of communication? 
  • How about the Approval Process for internal/external matters?
  • Review your process based on the desired outcomes and environmental changes

7. Track measures of productivity

Adapt your KPIs to measure team productivity.

  • An example of Performance KPIs:

-Call/Video Conferencing volume

-Average speed to answer 

-First/Last response time

-Customer issues 

-Customer Service Satisfaction 

  • Focus on Team outcomes, not activity

8. Avoid Micro-Management: 

Too many status updates together with growing communication gaps lead to micro-management.

  • Encourage ownership/delegation
  • Foster an open door. Demonstrate approachability and set clear expectations
  • Trust your employees to work independently and hold themselves accountable for their work
  • 5 components to check for Trust: Reliability, Competency, Integrity, Vulnerability & Empathy
  • How to be sure we delegate to the right person remotely? Test people with short-term tasks first

9. Monthly Team reviews

360 reviews: 

  • Management to subordinates
  • Subordinates to subordinates
  • Subordinates to management

10. Reward your Teams! 

  • Create challenges to motivate and reward your team members! 
  • Play games with your team (Jackbox.com, Pictionary online, etc). There are so many online games available for teambuilding!
  • Celebrate Big Wins, Birthdays, and More
  • Allow your Team to arrange a gaming session every Friday, twice, once-a-month?
  • Be creative and celebrate success!

Anything missing? Please add your comments below to share your inputs and insights!