The shift towards working from home has created new challenges for managers and their organisations. With many businesses moving to remote and flexible working it’s more important than ever to understand how to manage a remote team. In this article we share our thoughts on how best to keep your staff engaged and as productive as possible while working outside of the office.

Optimise equipment

Making sure your team have the equipment they need to do their jobs properly should be a priority. Whether it’s updating slow laptops or providing additional screens there are things you can do to ensure your workforce have the tools they need to be as productive as possible while working remotely. Our blog, ‘How to increase employee productivity in the workplace’ has plenty of tips that could be applicable for employees working from home.

Catch up daily

It’s important to keep lines of communication open and speaking to your team on a daily basis will help keep everyone engaged and ensure you know what everyone is working on. Don’t forget to ask after your team’s mental health and encourage honesty so you’re able to tell if your staff need any additional support.

Set objectives

Ensuring you and your team are on the same page is key, especially when you’re unable to see each other in person. Discussing objectives and agreeing them together can help reinforce direction and reduce wasted time.

Plan your team’s time

Parkinson's Law states that ‘work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.’ When working remotely it’s vital to keep this in mind. Speak to your team about the tasks they need to complete and do a rough estimate of how long each should take. By allocating a timescale to each job you and your employees will understand your team’s capacity. Be careful not to take this too far, you don’t want to micromanage your team, rather be aware of how much they are able to do and ensure they are not overloaded with work.

Make resources easily accessible

Working remotely can make it more difficult for your team to access the files they need so you'll require a robust system for file sharing and storage. Make sure your staff know how to collaborate on documents and decide how to save new versions so it’s easy to see the changes that have been made by each individual.

Try to be flexible

It can take some time to adjust to working from home and you may need to be more flexible when it comes to working hours and interruptions during the day. Children, pets, and deliveries amongst other things can make it more difficult to maintain focus and you’ll need to be understanding when everyday life gets in the way. Offering your team the option to start work earlier or finish later may help alleviate this problem and enable your staff to work at the times they feel able to get the most done.

Respect boundaries

While you need to ensure your team are working hard it’s also important to respect their boundaries. Try to avoid booking meetings outside their normal working hours and don’t make them feel like they need to be on call once they’ve logged off for the day.

Trust your team

It may be difficult for some employers but when it comes to managing a team, trust is one of the most important factors. You’ve hired your team for a reason, and you need to be able to trust them to be productive and manage their time effectively. Conversely your team need to be able to trust that you have their best interests at heart and will support them should any issues arise.

Encourage social exchanges

Remote working can be isolating so it’s important to encourage your team to socialise when possible. In the absence of face-to-face meetings you may want to try hosting dedicated digital events or you could make time at the start of video calls to catch up and find out what your colleagues have been up to.

Celebrate success

One in four people are looking for a new job because they don’t feel valued. Celebrating your team’s success by saying a simple ‘thank you’ or giving them a shout out in front of the rest of your organisation could make all the difference.

One way to show your team you care is with death in service insurance. This is an affordable benefit that supports your employee’s loved ones financially by providing them with a cash lump-sum payment should they pass away.