Leading a remote team through challenging times

Monday, 6 April 2020

Many leaders are suddenly finding themselves in new working relationships with their employees working remotely. Add to that the fear and uncertainty the coronavirus pandemic has brought upon workplaces and employees, and leaders have a challenging task ahead.

The shift to working remotely can be tricky to navigate so we have put together some tips to assist with leading a remote team. Each of the tips comes back to one main point: communication is key.

Create trust with your employees

Lead with trust, not control. Letting go can be a challenge for leaders who usually run traditional teams. In order for a remote team to function well, employers need to trust their employees to do the roles they were hired for.

In turn, employees need to be able to trust their leader to know they have their back and can talk about any issues they have without being judged.

Manage expectations

Setting clear expectations and goals will ensure your team members know what is expected of them. Ensure to discuss time frames and mutually agree to deadlines for tasks.

Focus on achievable tasks

Help your team to focus on what they can do with certainty instead of drawing them back to what they can’t control. Focus on the projects that can still progress even in the current uncertain environment.

Check-in regularly

But not too regularly. This comes back to creating trust within the team. Tools like Skype are essential for remote teams. Quick chats that would usually be had between desk mates can now happen online and in a way that avoids clogging up your email inbox.

Schedule video chats

Most businesses are already familiar with video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or BlueJeans, which allow a moderator to video chat with multiple users in different locations. Video conferencing provides more of a connection than a phone call and assists teams to stay connected even when physically apart.

Encourage collaboration

There’s no reason why you can’t feel like a team even if you’re not physically together. Using tools such as Microsoft Teams or other task management platforms can assist with team projects and collaborative approaches to tasks. These platforms allow individuals to share files and videos, create task lists and actively participate in team projects.

Promote self-care

With so much outside of our control, one thing within our control is how we take care of ourselves. Encourage your team to eat well, get enough sleep, exercise and take a break from the news. Tell them to prioritise the activities that make them feel calm and enjoy fresh air every day.

Be flexible and supportive

Everyone is managing as best they can in the extraordinary circumstances the coronavirus pandemic has thrown at them. No two employees have the same professional and personal circumstances. Choose kindness and respect knowing that when you are able to come together again, you will be a stronger and more productive team.