As unprecedented times force millions of workers globally to move to remote work, employers must adopt a sink-or-swim mentality. Since the pandemic’s onset, employers have scrambled to implement COVID-19-friendly WFH policies to simultaneously curb transmission and achieve optimal productivity.

Though WFH living triggered a domino effect of groans, sighs, and hair-pulling frustration, employers now report widespread changes of heart as staff members settle into their WFH routines. Because remote work structures have gained such rapid popularity, many company leaders plan to provide flexible work options for their employees moving forward.

Though employers expressed concerns regarding lower productivity and employee dissatisfaction in the WFH era, many employers have found that allowing workers to set up spaces in their home environments (free from humming printers and chatting employees) enables them to work more efficiently, leading to happier, better-focused employees.

However, that’s not to say that transitioning your team to remote work doesn’t come with its own set of challenges. Communications, scheduling, and tracking performance all need to look different when your team is scattered. Unfortunately, leaders dipping their toes in remote work structures tend to make rookie mistakes when they’re first managing remotely. Some of these WFH slip-ups include forgetting to conduct performance reviews, attempting to micromanage, and neglecting team interaction. However, it’s easy to avoid making these mistakes with just a little due diligence and dedication.

Setting your workspace up for success

Before creating a plan of attack for managing your team, you’ll need to establish an online workspace conducive to optimal productivity. Consider what kind of environment facilitates efficient work, what tools and equipment fit your needs, and how to solidify workflows and channels.

In terms of equipment and tools, having reliable, high-speed internet, secure work devices, and establishing a virtual office should be some of your top priorities. Once you’ve invested in creating a fully equipped workspace, you’ll be able to manage your team with maximum efficiency and focus.

Outline clear expectations over time

Establishing a set of expectations for your employees at the beginning of every project should always be your first step. Providing your team with concrete milestones and clear deadlines will ensure that your team is on the same page while working apart. In terms of communication, it doesn’t matter whether you prefer weekly or daily check-ins from key players, so long as you outline what you need from your employees in clear terms. Additionally, creating expectations around after-hours work communication can help your team members manage a healthy work-life balance as they find their footing.

Maintain flexibility

Remote work often means your team members may wish to deviate from the traditional 9-5 work hour structure. If your team is spread out across multiple time zones, this may be an even more relevant issue.

Being understanding and flexible of your team’s various preferences can increase productivity and efficiency. While you should maintain a concrete set of expectations for your employees’ work, adjusting your strategies in real-time will foster a positive work environment for your MVPs.

Create a communications strategy

Healthy communication is the lifeblood of any team, remote or not. However, once your staff transitions to fully remote, maintaining a communications strategy becomes more critical than ever.

Your first step should be to determine what platform your team will use for communicating. From Slack to Microsoft Teams, there are many options to choose from for your specific business needs. Whatever your final decision, your strategy should feature guidelines that specify what situations warrant a full team meeting or video call versus the circumstances where a simple email or text will suffice.

Establishing these guidelines will cut down on time spent in unnecessary meetings and keep your team on the same page.

Schedule team meetings and one-on-ones

Part of maintaining effective communications across your employees includes meeting regularly over a video call. Regular employee scrums can help your team members stay up-to-date on a project’s overall progress and understand their fellow staff members’ roles and responsibilities.

Remember, one-on-one conversations are vital for you to maintain rapport with individual team members. Not to mention, these face-to-face interactions will allow your staff members to communicate detailed updates, make suggestions, and ask specific questions that require your undivided attention.

The bottom line

Remote employee management can be a daunting concept when diving into the deep end. With your team no longer working in the same space and possibly spread out across the world, you’ll have to work to maintain an effective management strategy. However, with time and effort, you can ensure your employees succeed from afar.

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