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Start-Ups

The Small Business Owner's Guide to Successfully Managing Remote Teams

By Brian Farris   |    July 14, 2020   |    12:11 PM

Tips and Tricks to Manage Employees Who Work-From-Home

If you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur struggling to manage a remote team, today’s blog is for you. While it is possible for some employees to return to the office safely, work-from-home will likely continue for many people.

Managing a remote team isn't easy, but these tips and tricks will help you keep your team on track.

1. Schedule regular video check-ins

It’s not uncommon for leaders to schedule daily video check-ins with remote team members. Meeting every day may not be necessary, but aim to meet with every employee on a regular basis. Video calls allow for more personalized communication, so try to stick with video in lieu of phone calls and emails.

During these meetings, discuss important tasks, priorities and roadblocks. These chats are also a great time to see how your team is feeling about their new normal.

2. Always have an agenda

Every meeting should have an agenda, even your regular check-ins. Without an agenda, you risk wasting precious time and resources (your team will be frustrated, too). This is especially important when managing a dispersed team, where it’s easy for employees to make assumptions or miss important points. 

Ideally, someone will act as the meeting facilitator and timekeeper. This person can also document next steps, deadlines, responsibilities and other crucial information.

3. Make time for small talk and socializing

Casual conversation is hard to come by when working from home, but social interactions are vital if you want to cultivate good relationships within your team.

To that effect, think of new ways to facilitate small talk. It shouldn’t derail meetings, but here are three activities that your company can try:

  • Set up a dedicated Slack channel to share memes, jokes, articles and other conversation starters.
  • Schedule virtual happy hours and team lunches.
  • Plan “show and tell” calls where team members can share parts of their personal lives.

4. Use the right technology

Remote work is dependent on technology, and you can’t assume that every employee has the tech they need. In order to work-from-home successfully, your dispersed team may need:

  • A laptop or desktop computer.
  • Essential accessories, like a headset or headphones.
  • A comfortable working environment, which includes a desk and chair.
  • A speedy and reliable internet connection.

Remember, all of your communication will now take place online, too. That means you need communication and collaboration tools that work — here are some of my favorites.

5. Set realistic expectations

Your employees likely know what’s expected of them in the office. But, do they know what’s expected of them when working remotely?

Every company will have different expectations for their team. If you want employees to be online at certain times, for example, communicate that expectation clearly.

6. Learn about the struggles your remote employees face

You can have top-of-the-line technology and robust processes designed to support remote work, but they won’t be helpful if you don’t approach the situation with empathy and understanding.

Remote work can be incredibly difficult and demanding. Some employees may have young children who can’t return to school. Others could be struggling with social isolation. Your team might also need more time to do things like get critical feedback from other team members, track down important documents and more. 

Spend time thinking about the challenges your remote workers face each day, then be prepared to redefine your management style as needed

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