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After a year of homeworking, it looks as though the pandemic restrictions show no real sign of fully easing soon. And this presents real challenges for managers, who must find ways to effectively lead their teams after a long period of uncertainty and challenge. Some of these team members may be new, others may have limited skills with technology and some may be struggling with the mental challenges of Covid and its restrictions.

So how can you implement positive steps to get the most from your remote working teams? These steps will set you up for success:

1. Be clear on expectations

Clarify your expectations and set processes, boundaries and regular reviews – putting these in place as early as possible. Good project management is essential, even when you work together, physically, each day. Throw remote working into the mix and your fundamentals need to be even more solidly in place. Welcome questions, be accessible and be prepared to reiterate vital points, such as milestones, performance points, priorities and so forth.

2. Communicate

One of the biggest challenges of remote management is that you can feel cut off. So prioritise communication with your team and make sure you update them on factors such as changes in personnel, policy changes, corporate news and training items. Talk about successes, talk about social items, and encourage your team to participate and add their topics.

3. Model good behaviour

‘Shadow of The Leader’ is vital here. You shouldn’t expect your employees to work out of hours, or pester them in the evenings with texts and emails. Equally, you should have clear boundaries for your work and your family and home life. Work on implementing these boundaries and then set them as an expectation for your own team. Effective workers will have a good work/life balance and your role is to support this.

4. Demonstrate flexibility

One of the biggest benefits of homeworking is that it allows workers to pursue more flexible schedules without negatively impacting delivery. So allow for your team to have different hours – with expectations around core attendance as required. If some of your team work best first thing and before 9am and others prefer to work in the evening instead – allow them to do so.

5. Don’t micromanage

Remote management can be nerve-wracking when you can’t see your team in front of you. So have a clear work tracker for your team members and a project plan which has SMART goals for each of their objectives. Schedule regular progress catch-ups so that you can tick actions off and have forward warning of where things may slip. This will give you peace of mind and encourage more delegation and autonomy – ultimately, saving you time. If you have hired and trained good people, trust them to do their jobs.

6. Slash meetings

Long meetings in person can be arduous enough, but they rarely work at all on a remote basis. So schedule short and regular catch-ups with focused topics and plenty of energy. This will keep work ticking over and allow everyone to ask questions and get answers far more quickly.

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