May 7, 2020

Being a manager myself, I understand some of the challenges leading a team remotely brings. The fact that we’ve had to rapidly navigate and adapt to an unexpected shift, as opposed to a gradual transition, to working remotely, makes it significantly more hectic and challenging.
One of the primary keys to success is engaging with your remote employees. The goal is to ensure employees feel connected and motivated. This is especially important given the current global pandemic.
Keep in mind that there is no one size fits all for engaging employees. Managers should be able to pivot when necessary to consider an employee’s unique individual needs while also meeting team and business objectives. Below are several tips and suggestions that I hope you will find helpful:

  • Remind employees of their value to the team. Express how their specific work is necessary to the whole.
  • Create remote guidelines for team members such as start, end, and break times. Be consistent and address any deviations from the guidance immediately. Doing this will help employees structure their day and ensure balance and productivity. Although you want to be flexible, given the remote environment, it is essential to establish rules that mirror our organizational culture.
  • Set expectations and daily or weekly goals for each employee. This will help employees will have a focus, prioritize work, and they have a sense of accomplishment when they know what is expected.
  • Verify that your employees have an appropriate workspace and the tools they need to be successful.
  • Communicate regularly with employees. I touch base each morning with my team via a chat in Microsoft Teams. We ask how everyone’s evening was and discover one another’s mood. This group chat is followed by an individual email from me with an email to verify their focus for the day and/or provide new tasks for the day or offer assistance on items they may have encountered challenges completing.
  • Communicate via video at least once a week. I personally communicate with my employees via video several times a week. Additionally, my boss meets with us all for a 1/2 hour video meeting once a week.
  • Be available, check-in frequently, and be proactive. To make remote teams feel more connected, managers should leave time in their schedule to touch base, answer questions, lend support, or guidance. Doing this will help the team feel more cohesive, help employees with problem-solving, and increase productivity. Accomplishing this objective is as easy as asking your employees how you can help.
  • Ensure your employees feel like a part of the decision-making process and allow them some autonomy in their work. Doing so makes your employees feel valued and heard.
  • Plan a weekly or monthly team event that is not work-related. Something like a virtual meal, game, walk, or book club. This activity will help the team stay connected but also reminds your employees that you understand that they are more than “just an employee.” This interaction is also helpful for strengthening the team and fostering our family culture.

These tips and suggestions are things I have tried or suggested to other managers and have experienced success. Remember, engaged employees experience greater job satisfaction, are easier to retain, and more productive.
~ Geneivieve Dykes, Human Resources Manager