Businesses that are remaining operational are now mostly having to manage teams remotely as their office spaces are not conducive to social distancing, and their teams are not classified as key workers.

Screenshot 2020-04-15 at 10.18.09I was asked by Inspire to put together a workshop for business owners, delivered remotely of course, covering some ideas for getting the best from their remote teams.  I wanted to share some of that workshop is case it was useful to others.

It’s worth asking yourself to start with your objectives from this. Key in yesterdays session was retaining productivity, but your main needs may be different such as keeping teams up to date with business performance, or customer needs etc.

With the businesses attending at various levels of capability and experience with managing remote staff I didn’t want to be too specific so focused on three areas.

Communication.

At the heart of managing a remote team is good communication. From checking all are fit and healthy, to making sure they have the relevant resources to work from home and getting them up and running, good communication is key.

Do not forget that this is an unusual time and some people aren’t suited to working from home, and many may prefer not to be. If they are critical to your business and cannot be furloughed you need to take account of that and build their confidence.

Technology

Screenshot 2020-04-16 at 06.09.15One of the MD’s on the workshop runs a marketing business. One of their functions is providing a voice service for on hold calls and radio advertising. Another is a design studio. They have been able to locate all of these services in their team’s homes thanks to technology which only a few years ago did not exist. That goes to show what’s possible on a business need perspective, and gives confidence managing a team remotely can be done effectively.

This slide reviews some of the technologies available. You should be aware of their core strengths and decide what you are going to use team wide, and to what end. For example another of the team yesterday had already set up a WhatsApp group for less formal messaging within his 14 man team. This may complement a video conference technology for wider more structured meetings. This should be decided in the planning phase and you should factor in your team resources and technical abilities.

Screenshot 2020-04-16 at 06.18.51Planning

Once you have decided on the technology I am in favour of building a schedule for the staff. This creates a routine of regular communication and gives confidence that the business is still operational. Most importantly it sets a culture with your now remote team that they are still working, and expected to report to their manager on outcomes. You’ll see in this schedule which I put together as an example there are ‘social’ sessions. I think this is a key factor in managing teams through this time as building time for fun will bring the team together and help bond in what for many will be an unusual situation. These should not be a burden to you as a manager, instead perhaps delegate their leadership to the team and rotate the role.

A final recommendation. Review your strategy. If its not working, your team aren’t engaging, the technology isn’t stable or anything else isn’t right don’t be afraid to change it.

These are just a few ideas and thoughts based on my experience in the early 2002-2012 managing remote teams and what I have found since working with clients.

The presentation is available below. Any more advice needed please get in touch.

Ashley Hutchinson

T 07511 001157 E mail@asbusinessconsultants.uk