5 Tips for Team Managers looking to effectively manage remote employees
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5 Tips for Team Managers looking to effectively manage remote employees

5 min read May 03, 2020

For the last couple of weeks, our private and personal lives have been turned upside down. We are facing an unknown situation on how to run our workplace as well as our business.

There is no success without people in times like these. Companies that did not pay attention to their employees learned that a successful business must focus on employees as the reflection of their team leaders and management.  

Over the past days, I had the chance to meet with 8 of our managers and team leaders from different locations and regions of our offices. I wanted to know how they manage leading their teams remotely. The talks were insightful, as each has a slightly different approach to making sure everything is up and running, and what is most important is that our leaders focus on the same core topics.

So, here are the 5 most important first-hand insights for managing remote employees from our experts.

1. Empathy 

Being isolated in a way we are now produces problems we can all relate to. In times when one-on-one meetings are missing out and personal contact is limited, leaders need to be much more sensitive to avoid potential conflicts between team members. Any potential arguments need to be addressed immediately – being angry at home will influence productivity and motivation much greater than on-site.  

Paying attention to employees' feelings helps raise productivity and motivates them to put even more effort into their work.

2. Inclusion 

Having to rely on video or phone calls only, leaders need to take initiative by asking questions and listening carefully. Every member of the team needs to be heard and given a role in conversations. Rituals like daily stand-up meetings tend to be longer because members of the team also check on each other besides discussing project-related tasks.

3. Clarity 

Being clear on tasks, expectations, and deadlines (Who | What | When) is crucial since team members cannot communicate face-to-face. In times like these, it is even more necessary to focus on clarity.
Working remotely means that fixing problems and besting challenges over a cup of coffee is hardly an option anymore. Leaders need to find a good balance between intense communication and letting people work without constant interruptions.

Clarity reduces the risk of re-doing tasks or misunderstanding them, which is why every member of the team must know the rules of remote work clarity. Working remotely may feel like being we’re available 24/7, so team managers must make sure that office hours are respected and that digital detox is necessary from time to time.

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Emphathy, Inclusion, Clairty, Empowerment and Technical competencies are 5 key areas where managers should focus

4. Empowerment 

Empower your team! People will gladly work if you let them know that they can take initiative for some of the tasks where there is no need to wait for others. It is also important that you do not expect your team members to answer your question instantaneously. Team members must trust their colleagues and know that they will be back with the answer as soon as possible.
Time is money but the combination of working from home and taking care of your little ones means that a new rule must be set – the wait for answers can be a few minutes longer. The wait will pay off.  

Trusting your employees and knowing none of them will let you down are the most important things to keep in mind.

5. Technical competence and new ways of delivering our services to the customers

An important part of our business is not just implementing advanced business solutions for our customers but also educating them and learning about their needs. Traditionally, we present our business solutions in various workshops taking place at the beginning of projects. The 8-hour long on-site workshops with some coffee and launch breaks throughout the day can help keep attendees’ concentrations high. However, hosting an 8 hour on-line workshop is torture for everyone. The solution is to divide workshops into 3 or more sessions and find the best communication technology solutions that fill in the gap of not having a virtual board, cameras, systems for document sharing, etc.  

Conclusion 

To summarize, being efficient should not be rocket science if you follow these five tips by our team leaders. Paying attention to your people should be everyone's priority on-site and even more so when working remotely. Ask questions, listen to your people, and be a coach as well as a student. We never stop learning and that is truer now than ever.

Thanks to Thomas Holzer, Christoph Schnauder, Heiko Härer, Mathias Eggert, Staša Kotnik, Ivan Kaselj, Gordana Pelević and Mirko Marković for sharing your insights with me.

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5 Tips for Team Managers Looking to Effectively Manage Remote Employees

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About the Author

Armin Außerhofer

Head of Group Human Resources