The nature of the workplace is continually shifting. Where it was once necessary for staff to work together in the same physical space, videoconferencing and file-sharing technologies now make it possible for team members to collaborate even when they’re in different locales.
Over the last several years, many businesses have begun allowing their employees to work remotely, either part or full time. Many employees enjoy this flexibility as a workplace perk, while businesses receive the benefit of reducing their operational overhead by having team members telecommute. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses adopted a remote work policy as a way to maintain productivity when occupying physical office buildings became unfeasible.
As virtual collaboration becomes increasingly commonplace, it’s important for leaders to learn the skills needed for successfully managing remote teams. One way to do this is to pursue a formal education in leadership and management, where crucial supervisory and communication skills can be honed.
Adapting to Online Management
Even before social distancing requirements made remote work a necessity, it was becoming increasingly prevalent. According to a study from Owl Labs, 18% of people in the US worked remotely full time in 2019.
What COVID-19 proved is that leaders and managers must be prepared to quickly adapt to new work arrangements; many businesses had to quickly shift to a virtual workplace, which required adopting new technologies, new day-to-day procedures, new standards of accountability and new channels for communication.
As businesses have pivoted to remote work, leaders and managers have grappled with the fact that leading employees isn’t quite the same without being able to address them face to face, hold in-person team-building exercises, or share common physical spaces and resources. As such, it’s more essential than ever for leaders to master the skills needed for effectively managing remote teams.
Five Tips for Managing Remote Teams
The following five guidelines can help leaders who’ve transitioned to managing remote teams streamline the process, facilitate productivity and boost morale:
Employees crave a certain sense of predictability. They want to know when they’ll hear from their supervisors, as well as how they can easily connect with their supervisors should a question or issue arise. One of the most critical aspects of managing remote teams is establishing clear communication channels. This means ensuring that all employees have access to the right tools, whether that’s Slack, Skype, Zoom or simply a reliable email account. It also means implementing some basic rhythms, giving team members a sense of how and when meetings will occur.
Working from home, many employees may feel like they’ve essentially been left to their own devices. While this freedom and flexibility can be welcome for some, it can also produce anxiety in others, with team members nervous that they might fail to meet expectations. As such, those expectations should be made clear from the get-go. To help overcome this, leaders should instruct team members about the flexibility of their work hours, when they’re required to be online for meetings, how their work is to be delivered, and what standards of accountability are in place.
All employees should have the tools needed to do their job remotely. Communication platforms are one element, but some businesses may also require cybersecurity measures, file-sharing tools, collaboration programs, and more. Companies committed to remote teams should invest in the right software to help employees thrive, as well as any training required to ensure that employees can effectively use the software. It’s especially important to be mindful of employees who may not be as comfortable with technology; it shouldn’t be taken for granted that employees already know how to access the required programs or tools.
Online Leadership and Management Degrees at UCF
- Career and Technical Education, BS
- Career and Technical Education, MA
- College Teaching and Leadership
- Corrections Leadership
- Cyber Risk Management
- Destination Marketing and Management
- Educational Leadership, MA
- Emergency and Crisis Management, MECM
- Engineering Management, MS
- Event Management
- Health Informatics and Information Management, BS
- Health Services Administration, BS
- Hospitality Management, BS
- Industrial Engineering, MSIE
- Local Director of Career & Technical Education
- Master of Public Administration, MPA
- Nonprofit Management
- Nonprofit Management, MNM
- Police Leadership
- Project Engineering
- Public Administration
- Research Smarts
- Restaurant & Foodservice Management, BS
- Senior Living Management, BS
Technology is at the heart of successfully establishing team communication and collaboration remotely. Without the right tools in place, it makes it very difficult to establish rhythm and operational flow between team members.”
Video Chat Meetings
While there’s much that can be done via email or Slack, it’s often important for team members to see and hear from one another, and to enjoy some “face time” with managers. This is critical for promoting a sense of teamwork and for reminding employees that they aren’t working in isolation, even if they’re working from their individual homes. Coordinate video chat meetings on a regular basis, using platforms like Zoom or Skype.
Keep Work Personal
Managing remote teams can feel impersonal. To maintain morale, it’s important to routinely check in with employees on an individual basis. Use text, email, online chat or phone calls to simply ask how they’re doing, not just with their work but personally, as well. Cultivate an online work culture where team members feel like they’re being cared for as individuals, not just names on a screen.
Advantages of Working Online
There are a number of reasons why team leaders might wish to embrace remote teamwork. The obvious one is to ensure preparedness against events like COVID-19. Additionally, having a flexible work-from-home culture can be a significant perk that can be used to recruit talented new employees (and it’s a benefit that doesn’t necessarily cost anything). Additionally, remote work allows businesses to recruit the best people not just locally, but potentially from elsewhere in the country, or even internationally.
Enjoying these benefits, however, requires attaining and honing the leadership skills needed to successfully build and manage remote teams. Many of the University of Central Florida’s online degree and certificate programs provide environments in which these skills can be cultivated. What’s more, these degrees and certificates can all be attained fully online, even while working remotely. With programs in fields ranging from policing to hospitality, nonprofit management to industrial engineering, UCF Online can help prepare individuals to realize their leadership goals and ambitions.
Develop Skills for Managing Remote Teams
UCF Online’s leadership and management degrees and certificates are designed to prepare leaders for the workplace of tomorrow; increasingly, that means adapting to the challenges as well as the advantages of working remotely. Learn more about leadership and management programs today.