In many ways, the COVID-19 lockdown has expedited trends that were already happening within many sectors, as businesses have moved at pace towards remote working, flexible work patterns and fragmented workforces.
Now more than ever, managers are needing guidance and leadership on how to help their fragmented or remote teams thrive, beyond the rudiments of Zoom meetings and cloud storage. Here are our four pillars for managing a remote or disparate workforce.
Flexibility is a two-way street
Once you have set a ‘big picture’ vision for a project or piece of work, be prepared to be flexible with employees who may be adapting to new working hours and styles. Assess those who will benefit from a more hands-on approach and set smaller goals along the way.
Remember that flexibility is a two-way street. You cannot expect staff to universally adapt to your preferred hours or ways of working if you are not willing to be flexible yourself. This could look like being open to conversation on deadlines, flexible working requests or calls for additional support.
Clear communication and accountability are key
“But how do you know they’ll do any work?” is a question often levelled at employers with remote teams. Hopefully lockdown has proven that provided that employees feel envisioned and motivated, most will work just as diligently in the office as they can remotely.
Promoting accountability is a way of cementing trust between manager and team members. Set out clear expectations, and create regular check-ins to ensure staff are on track. Knowing your team well provides you with the ability to know whether you feel staff are delivering their best work.
Focus on outputs not inputs
One of the benefits of remote working is the potential for less ‘lost time’ throughout the working day. Capitalise on this by focusing on outputs rather than inputs as a marker of success.
‘Have X up and running by Friday’ is far more motivating than ‘spend 10 hours working on X’. While none of us would intentionally opt for the latter, it’s easy to fall into the trap of focusing on the inputs (time, effort, contact or specific actions) rather than broader outputs (sales, project completions, and so on).
Don’t let company culture suffer
While we all risk only heeding the ‘call of the urgent’ during this time, it’s important to take a step back and remember company culture. The overall culture, vision and mission of your organisation is the thing which will motivate your team and inspire their best work.
Think of ways to remind your team of the ‘why’ behind their work at all touchpoints: during team communications, in project plans and in social conversations.
At 1850 we specialise in helping organisations thrive in the modern workplace. If you want to make sure your business is set up for success with remote or fragmented teams, get in touch for a free 30 minute consultation with our HR expert.