Our work culture is changing on a global scale. Remote working will require structure and predictability - but also patience and flexibility. This creates particular challenges for managers, who suddenly find themselves called upon to lead in extraordinary circumstances. It means quickly adapting their habits and behaviors to make sure their teams feel connected and supported.
The tips and resources in this guide will help you take care of business and your people - wherever they’re working.
Follow these seven best practices to turn ‘remote’ working into ‘connected’ working.
Set up your team’s infrastructure
Make sure your team has the right tools and norms in place to communicate and collaborate effectively.
- Set up a team Workplace group
- Make sure you have a team shared drive
- Open one-on-one chat threads with each of your direct reports
- Determine which video call technology the team will use for one-on-ones and team meetings
- Create a cell phone contact list
- Set team expectations around reasonable response times for email, instant messages, etc.
- Document team goals, deliverables and timelines
- Establish processes for documenting meeting notes, decisions and deliverables
Ensure people on your team have the tools and hardware they need to do their work
- Reliable internet
- Virtual Private Networks (VPN) remote access
- Video calling tool
- Instant messaging tool like Workplace Chat
- Headset, headphones etc.
Discuss working preferences with each of your direct reports
Talk about communication preferences (email, chat, video), set a recurring one-to-one frequency, and make sure people know how/when to escalate. Don’t forget to check in with your team regularly. Remote working can be isolating - even a quick ‘hi’ can go a long way.
Regularly communicate and check for context
When teams are dispersed, it’s difficult to know who has been exposed to project information and updates. Reinforcing context in writing, one-to-ones and team meetings is important.
- Help people stay connected by regularly sharing company and org updates
- Always start with context in meetings and written documents, ensuring everyone is aware of goals, deliverables and status before going into the details
Manage your meetings well
Well structured meetings and follow-ups are critical to help people stay productive and connected when some or all of the team is working from home.
- Set meetings during times when people’s availability overlaps as much as possible. Sometimes it’s difficult to avoid early or late meetings across a remote team - in those instances, ensure the inconvenience is distributed fairly
- Adjust meeting schedules as needed. Some teams are fine meeting weekly, while other teams might benefit from more frequent meetings. Daily ‘standups’ of no more than 30 minutes can be very helpful
- Make sure meetings have a clear goal and agenda. Add the meeting agenda to calendar invites and post it in your team’s Workplace group or shared drive, and be clear about what you expect to accomplish with respect to each agenda item. Make sure any pre-reads are linked/sent out in advance
- In fully remote meetings, assign a moderator and establish ground rules to ensure everyone is heard
- Encourage people to use video calls for meetings, including one-on-ones. Video helps establish presence and connection. Use any video conference technology that works for your team (e.g., Workplace, Zoom, BlueJeans, Portal, Messenger Video, FaceTime, etc)
- Share detailed notes after the meeting. Create collaborative posts/documents for all meetings, and assign someone on the team to make sure notes, feedback, decisions and action items are tracked and shared
Keep work locations in mind
Remote work can be most challenging when teams include a mix of people who are working from home and co-located—in an office or on the field. Be particularly thoughtful about collaboration norms in mixed teams and make sure people working remotely are included in the discussion, especially if there is a ‘core’ team that is co-located.
Pick up the phone when it makes sense
A quick call (during working hours) is often the fastest way to work through a one-on-one or small group issue. Set a team norm to use the phone to resolve issues quickly or if there are issues with connectivity.
Be thoughtful about hard conversations
Understand that some topics can be harder to talk about when people are remote (giving constructive feedback, for example). If you need to talk through something sensitive, start by asking how the person is feeling, and follow-up with them after the conversation to check-in on the same. Plan to have these conversations via video calls, not on the phone.
Help people identify routines and practice self-care
- Support your team in identifying routines that work for them, which includes being mindful of distractions that may be more likely to occur at home. For some people this is about rebuilding the structure of their office environment at home, while for others, it’s about establishing a new routine.
- Encourage people to stay connected to their social Workplace communities and as it makes sense, meet for social chats or even just virtual ‘coffee chats’ to help people maintain their social connections
- Make sure during team check-ins that you’re not only checking on work progress, but also looking for signs of burnout or frustration, which can result from feeling ‘always-on’ when working remotely. Remind team members to set boundaries and prioritize time for self-care
Check-in with parents
- In times of crisis, people with families who are working from home may need to take a more flexible approach if they have children who are off school. Check-in frequently with your team to understand their needs and overall wellbeing
- Parents may need to shift their schedule to accommodate family commitments. Be sure you support parents with this effort by setting clear expectations for outcomes (not hours worked) and being cautious about last-minute meetings or rescheduling team meetings. Parents may not be able to react to sudden changes in schedule as quickly as they would under normal circumstances
It’s never been more important to become a connected company. For more resources on being apart together, visit our Work From Home Hub.