Remote work is the new normal. It can immensely improve work-life balance without having much effect on productivity due to the additional hours and energy we save on travelling and doing other chores before we leave for work. As a manager, it is crucial to assess a team but as an employee of a company, it is also crucial to know what you are doing right and wrong.
Here are 7 common mistakes to avoid when managing a remote team and how to improve these mistakes:
1. Scheduling too many meetings
Meetings that can be simply emails should be avoided. Too many meetings only cause the employees to communicate more and have lesser time to get the work done. Once you have communicated the requirements of the work to be done, fix a deadline on mutual agreement and trust them to get it done. Only discussing work and not implementing all that has been discussed leads to nowhere. One should only schedule meetings with a specific agenda in mind.
2. Absence of feedback
Lack of regular and constructive feedback could be one of the reasons your employees haven’t been performing well while working remotely. Until and unless they are reviewed on their performance and given in-depth feedback on the tasks performed, it is unfair to expect them to improve.
Moreover, a feedback goes both ways. You can always ask them the areas in which you can improve or if they have any ideas for improvement in terms of managing the company. While you may think you are doing everything right, your co-workers might not have the same perspective. It is best to give and receive honest feedback in order to improve.
3. Extensive workload
It is imprecise to think that all employees can handle extensive workload as they are saving travelling time and can work longer hours from home. Flexible work timings may work for some employees while fixed work timings may work for others. Usually, employees prefer fixed work timings to avoid the feeling that they have only been working the whole day. Fixed work hours help them meet deadlines as during that time, they are only focusing on work.
Allow your employees the freedom to set their own goals and meet their deadlines. You don’t have to micromanage each individual working for you, but simply trust them to get the work done. As long as they are maintaining communication, it is not necessary to constantly ask them what they are working on. Understand that remote work sometimes isn’t easy for employees either. There will be days when they are less productive than usual, while some days they might be full of energy to get additional work done. In this case, you can help them set weekly or monthly goals depending on the work, instead of setting daily goals for the employees.
5. Poor communication
Although communication is a crucial challenge when working from home, it is important to keep your team updated with all that is going on if it affects their work. Poor communication can lead to unclear expectations, assumptions and misunderstandings. Ensure you are clearly communicating the requirements and expectations with your employees. Always ask them if they have understood and make time to sort out their queries.
6. Not using the right tools
Remote work most importantly requires communication tools. Ensure that your team has the correct file-sharing and project management tools in order to manage their tasks responsibly. Depending on their role, they may require more specific tools that can make their workflow smooth. If the employees are facing issues in accessing these tools, connect them with the right person that can help solve the technical issues.
7. Being inconsiderate of personal responsibilities
Don’t assume that everyone has the same understanding and interpretation of timelines, deliverables and preferences. As more people work remotely, it is common that personal responsibilities come up during hours of work. Try and understand that your employees can sometimes be unavailable due to personal reasons, whether or not they are comfortable sharing that issue with you. They might not respond to emails or calls within the same second as they are caught up with chores. Respect their time and personal boundaries to help them manage work with their personal life.
Managing a remote team can become challenging at times but always remember why you hired your employees in the first place and learn to trust them. It all comes down to having faith in them and their goal of making your company more successful.