7 Remote Working Mistakes to Avoid
For many businesses, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that forced them to pivot to a remote workforce. But more than two years later, it’s clear that remote working is here to stay with almost 98% of remote workers wanting to work remotely for the rest of their careers.
There are numerous benefits of offering remote work to employees. It can improve the work-life balance for your team and open the doors to hiring top talent outside your city, state, and even country.
However, managing a remote team comes with its own unique set of complications. Here are seven mistakes to avoid when managing remote teams.
1. Poor communication
Strong communication is essential for the flow of information in any organization. But without the entire team working in the same place, it can be challenging to keep the lines of communication open.
Build better communication by identifying standard communication channels and outlining how each channel should be used. For example, teams may be expected to use tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams to communicate and ask questions, while teleconferencing (like Zoom) should be used for meetings and check-ins.
2. Inadequate equipment or resources
Employees require access to equipment (computer, keyboard, mouse, desk, chair, etc.) and resources (internet connection, company data) to do their job. To improve remote productivity, you’ll need to set up a work-from-home infrastructure so staff can easily access information or assistance for their daily duties.
To make sure people are set up for work, you can also choose to send them the equipment they’ll need or provide them with a stipend to invest in work-related necessities.
3. Failing to set expectations
Without being physically present to manage your team, there may be some confusion about when and how employees are supposed to work.
Try creating a work-from-home policy that clearly documents what you expect from remote employees and how they’re expected to act in certain situations. Include agreed upon work hours, performance and output, project targets or goals, and standard communication channels.
4. Overscheduling virtual meetings
Virtual meetings are important to keep communication channels open, but overscheduling (or scheduling at inopportune times) can lead to “Zoom fatigue” and burnout. Keep a regular meeting cadence. If some people work in different time zones, schedule meetings during overlap hours.
Before a meeting starts, the leader should provide all attendees with a simple agenda so everyone knows what they can expect and prepare accordingly.
5. Lack of opportunity and development
Today’s labor market is a competitive landscape. If you’re not discussing development opportunities with your remote workforce, you may be putting the organization at risk of staffing turnover.
Managers should schedule time to have a conversation about growth, development, and goals. Everyone should be encouraged to set SMART goals, helping them level up in their career.
6. Missing team building and employee culture
A remote workforce makes it tricky to build a rapport with staff and promote the organization’s culture.
Get teams to participate in virtual coffee chats or icebreakers to help people better connect. For remote workers who happen to live near each other, plan an office coworking day or schedule a lunch so they can get to know each other better.
7. Not providing effective feedback
Constructive feedback is essential for the growth and development of employees at every level, but it can be challenging to deliver feedback to those working remotely.
Weekly or biweekly one-on-one meetings are an opportunity to discuss performance, assess productivity, set goals, and identify any opportunities for professional development.
Frequently asked questions
How do we set remote work expectations?
Before employees start working remotely, ask them to read and agree to your company’s work-from-home policy. This policy should cover agreed upon work hours and breaks.
Managers should set clear priorities for tasks, develop targets and milestones, and create performance goals for each team member.
How do we ensure that remote employees are productive?
Provide employees with tips on how to work from home, as well as a stipend to set up their home office. To reduce stress and increase productivity, teams should be encouraged to take breaks throughout the day.
Implement collaboration apps and remote working tools so everyone has access to the information they need to do their job.
Set short- and long-term goals so remote workers know what they’re working toward. Check in regularly to monitor their progress.
How do we maintain team cohesion with remote employees?
To maintain team cohesion, deploy virtual team building activities. Here are some ideas:
- Use a communication tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams for remote workers to chat throughout the day, whether work-related or not.
- Schedule weekly, biweekly, and monthly virtual meetings to share work priorities and address any issues.
- Host virtual events like lunches or happy hours to have some fun and build camaraderie.
- Encourage remote workers to schedule coffee chats with other employees or pair them with a virtual mentor or mentee.
How do we find the right balance of communication when working remotely?
There’s no hard rule on how much or how little communication people need. The key to striking the right balance is having information available for your team when they need it and not disrupting their workflow with untimely or unnecessary communication.
To find the right balance of communication with remote workers, try:
- Using collaborative project management tools (like Asana) to assign tasks and document project requirements asynchronously.
- Keeping weekly check-ins or one-on-ones consistent so remote workers know when to expect a stoppage in their workday.
- Creating groups (like Slack channels) for people to ask questions and communicate with one another throughout the day. Remote workers can also mute their notifications and update their status to avoid disruptions during focus periods.
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