Feb 27, 2023
5 mins read
As many companies moved to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic, they encountered new challenges in maintaining a sense of teamwork with employees working from home or in a coworking space.
The in-office approach that was used to empower employees and foster a sense of camaraderie may have had to shift to address the change in workplace status.
Whether you’re moving your employees to a remote work setting, or you’ve already been functioning that way for a while, these approaches to empowering your remote work employees can help make (or continue to make) the transition go more smoothly, and help increase morale and productivity too.
As you begin managing your remote team, you will want to ensure that everyone clearly understands the expectations and ways of working.
That means everything from deadlines and delivery methods, to establishing boundaries related to work-life balance, all of which can be a difficult transition for many employees.
Speaking to your employees first and getting an understanding of how they work, what time zones they’re in, and what their expectations are can help you establish your own.
Setting clear expectations means everyone starts on the same page, which can help ensure the team is able to execute their tasks without a hitch, or at least, a big one.
Getting work done without a central hub is completely possible, and has been very successful for teams for many years. But if you’re just getting started managing a remote team, it’s important to create personal connections with them.
Consider creating a Slack channel that’s just for office chatter or good-news sharing, so that you can get to know your team better. You might also consider holding office hours, where employees can hop on a Zoom call if they have any questions or concerns for you. And setting up one-on-one time on a regular basis with your team, where you discuss work, but also inquire about how they’re doing is imperative.
While you may not be able to get together in person just yet (though, an all-hands work week is definitely something to consider), there are myriad ways to host virtual team-building events that can be very effective.
If you’re a fairly hands-off kind of manager, the idea of checking in frequently might seem like overkill. And, no one wants to add more meetings to their schedule, especially when they could have easily been an email.
However, as you’re getting to know your team, short, weekly stand-up meetings to get a sense of what they’re working on and where they are in the process might be helpful. Once you understand their ways of working and have a track record of their performance, you can loosen up the meeting schedule to everyone’s comfort level. Just make sure you’re keeping the 15 or 20-minute meetings to that specific time. It’s easy for these quick check-ins to turn into longer work sessions, which is not how they’re intended.
Just because an employee is now remote doesn’t mean they suddenly don’t know how to do their job. They were hired for a reason—hopefully because they were experts in their field.
Instead of trying to do the work yourself out of worry that it might not get done (or done in the way you want it to be done), delegate to your team. That’s what they’re there for. The last thing you want to do is get bogged down with work that you don’t own, and leave your employees feeling incapable.
Making the transition to remote work can feel isolating at first, so take some time to recognize the hard work your team is doing.
Whether that’s a “high-five” Slack channel where team members can give “shout-outs” to others, or recognition at your weekly stand-up accompanied by a small token of thanks (a gift card to a local coffee shop). Those seemingly small efforts can go a long way to helping your team feel empowered in their work.