The last 2 weeks has seen a lot of COVID-19 planning for business and a common question is “How do we manage our teams if everyone is working from home?”.

So we’ve delved into the research and read a lot of case studies to collate the 7 steps to help your teams stay productive, maintain well-being and feel connected when working remotely.

 

  1. Availability Guidelines
  2. Communication
  3. Meaningful Work
  4. Setting Workplans & Expectations
  5. Building Community
  6. Training & Development
  7. Support

You can read more below, or watch our 12 minute on-demand mini-webinar here

 

1. Availability Guidelines

It is important that you have core hours where everyone is contactable, and so that you don’t have anyone working unreasonable hours. Guidelines should be communicated around:

  • Core hours when are office is “open for business” via email, phone and video conference (e..g. 9am – 5pm Monday-Friday).
    • Contact should not be made with team mates outside of these hours unless it is urgent
    • All permanent employees are available during these hours (unless they have a flexible working arrangement in place)
  • Agree on a time frame for when emails and voice mail messages are responded to (e.g. within 24 hours)
  • Meetings are booked into  calendars so teammates can easily see each other’s availability

2. Communication

Consistent and frequent communication is essential to effectively working as remote teams.

Video as much as possible

Scheduling meetings via video is much more beneficial than via conference call. Not only do we get additional visual cues to understand tone and meaning in communication, but we are more likely to be engaged as we concentrate on the screen (rather than being distracted by other emails or messages!)

Daily huddles

Have a 5-15-minute “stand-up” meeting at the start of each day. The structure should be something like:

  • CHECK IN : “How’s Things”?
  • GOALS/PROJECTS: Each team member to give a 60 second or less update on what they are working on and towards that day
  • BLOCKAGES: Any barriers, issues, challenges we need to be aware of as a team?
  • GET TO IT: Anything else the team should know today? Let’s get to it!

Daily check-ins

Managers should have a quick call to check-in on each of their direct reports every day. These are to check that everyone is safe & well and has the opportunity to let their Manager know if anything is not quite right.

1-1 meetings

Every team member should have 1-to-1 video meetings with their direct Manager once per week. This should be no more than 60 minutes and the structure something like:

 CHECK IN : “How’s Things”?

  • GOALS/PROJECTS: Discuss what progress you made last week. What are your goal/projects are for the following week?
  • BLOCKAGES: Any barriers, issues, challenges your Manager needs to be aware of or can assist you with?
  • GET TO IT: Anything else your manager should know this week? Let’s get to it!

Team meetings

Each team should have a structured team meeting at least once per month. Invite members from other teams to your meetings as a “guest speaker” to chat about what the other team is doing to help with collaboration and a sense of belonging.

Designate “water cooler” time in your team meeting to help maintain personal connections and bring some fun into the workday.

All Staff Updates

Consider a regular scheduled meeting held by the CEO with everyone in the organisation to update on matters that impact the whole organisation. Ask everyone to send questions or ideas of topics of interest to the CEO prior to the update.

 

3. Meaningful Work

This is a key driver of engagement and when working remotely it is even more important to feel connection and meaning between your work and what the organisation is trying to achieve.

If you have an existing quarterly check-in process or performance review process, this should be used to set in your calendar in advance quarterly catch ups over the year. Also have an extra meeting as soon as you start working remotely to recheck the goals and ensure they are still current and meaningful.

 

4. Setting workplans and expectations

Productivity is a concern when employees work outside of a traditional office. Some team members may not use their time wisely, while others burnout when working remotely due to a lack of boundaries.

For this reason, you should have a clear workplan and expectations set with your team members at the start of each week. It is advisable to use available technology to keep track of projects, or if that is not available or appropriate, discuss with your team member what their weekly focus is. Are there set tasks they need to complete? How will you know when these are completed? Make this part of your weekly 1-to-1 meeting.

 

5. Building Community

Felling that we are part of a community and effectively collaborating helps teams’ bond, builds trust and enables us to build on each other’s ideas. Here are some ideas to keep your work community thriving

Have lunch with someone (remotely of course!)

Encourage your team members to set up lunch dates other team members to have a chat and discuss the latest book, or Netflix show, while eating their lunch. They can catch up via video on their phone and sit outside in the sun and have a nice social chat.

Use collaborative technology

Slack and Microsoft Teams are two examples of great tools to quickly check in with teammates, share funny stories, and chat about the news of the day.

 

6. Training and Development

One of the benefits of being in an office is the ability to have impromptu conversations and learn from each other. When working remotely, it is important to find ways to connect and keep learning and developing.

Encourage everyone to watch a TED talk or find an interesting article every week. Talk about this at the weekly team meetings.

Make regular training available online and encourage buddy groups to discuss any wins and challenges people have had between training sessions.

7. Support

Make support available through your organisation EAP or providing details to  free support services such as Beyond Blue and Lifeline.

Encourage everyone to keep moving by getting up from their workplace regularly through the day.

Offer ergonomic checklists and resources so everyone can check their workspace and stay healthy.

 

More tips?

During these uncertain times it is more important than ever that we share and support one another. If you have some tips on managing remote teams, we would love to hear them.