How to Manage Your Remote Work Team in a Way That Doesn’t Drain You

There’s no question that the global pandemic changed life as we know it. The workforce is one area that has seen a massive shift. Though remote work existed before COVID-19, it has become even more prevalent since.

As companies shifted their workforce home for safety, many realized several jobs could be done virtually. And when organizations began calling employees back to work, they learned a lot of individuals enjoyed their remote life. This has fueled a huge shift in remote work.

As a manager, you must adapt to this new workforce culture. This is especially true if you find yourself leading a team with remote workers. It’s always been important to learn how to manage your team. Now, with employees in various locations, you must learn new strategies to be an effective leader.

Building trust and connections might be challenging without face-to-face communication. It may also be difficult to ensure virtual employees are supported, productive, and engaged. However, with the right tips, you can effectively manage your remote team in a way that doesn’t drain you. 

Make the Most of Your Meetings

As a manager, you have vital information to share with your team. While much of this can be communicated via email or your project management platform, the occasional videoconference will still be required. These virtual gatherings can be especially helpful for remote teams because you don’t bump into each other throughout the day.

To make the most of these events, organize your meetings well. For example, you could create a folder for each meeting. Develop an agenda to have a targeted outline of important items to discuss. Not only will this make the meeting more productive, but it also ensures you don’t forget essential talking points.

Keep meeting minutes and be sure to include action items. Save the agendas and minutes in one place. This serves to keep a record of what has been discussed and what projects people have been assigned.

This also allows everyone to access the meeting minutes in a centralized location, as opposed to them having to ask you. In addition, no one will need to search emails to find the information, saving everyone time. 

Use Technology to Engage

Though many like remote or virtual work, one thing that can be lacking is engagement. Some employees might not feel as connected virtually compared to in-person work. Use technology to foster team engagement. Video team meetings allow employees to see and get to know their coworkers.

Schedule one-on-one meetings with your direct reports and try to never cancel them. These are vital to connecting with your employees. They create a space for employees to be heard and know that they have time with you on the calendar.

Create or delegate monthly virtual team-building activities. A virtual happy hour or bingo lunch every month is another fun activity that will encourage engagement among employees. This helps employees feel part of the larger organizational community.

Use your group instant messaging options for ongoing conversation. Quick chats, as opposed to several emails, can decrease stress and avoid inbox clutter.

However, be mindful to not overwhelm their schedules or your own. Block out periods when you’re unavailable. If you need time in the morning to check emails for the day, put it on your calendar. You can even set a do not disturb on your IM. Encourage your team to do the same when they need to work without interruption. 

Encourage Breaks

Everyone needs time to recharge. Recognize that people are allowed to step away occasionally. Being at home doesn’t mean you and your team are “always on.” Encourage your team to take small breaks throughout the day and to eat lunch — and follow this same advice yourself.

If you find yourself or the team skipping lunch, encourage everyone to block it out on their calendar as busy. Step away from your desks. Suggest taking a short walk, stretching for a few minutes, or listening to a podcast. Your team will respect you if they feel you respect their work-life balance.

Doing these small things, when you and your team are able, will also promote better mental health. It can help you avoid that feeling of being drained or burned out by work tasks.

When the workday is over, unplug for the night. Make this a rule for your team as well,  especially if your organization keeps traditional working hours. Don’t send IMs at 11 p.m. When you unplug, you also shouldn’t expect your team to be online all night.

Seek Support

Look for tools and tips for management. Sometimes taking a course or professional development training can be beneficial. Growing in your leadership skills will help you manage your remote team with greater confidence.

Talk to your human resources department for tips. It might also be beneficial to create a leadership group to meet and discuss effective strategies for leading teams. This provides support among others at the same level. It also will ensure employees are supported in a unified way throughout the organization.

There’s no doubt that the workforce environment has changed. Managers must adapt to these advances. To successfully manage your remote team, be sure to optimize your meetings. Engage and connect with your team members, and encourage your employees to take breaks for their mental health and well-being. And seek support to improve your leadership skills.

Doing these things can help you lead a team in a way that doesn’t drain you. Your team members will also benefit professionally and personally from these tips as well.

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