Managing Your Staff Remotely

March 17th, 2020 • Human Resources

Lee Kubishta, SHRM-SCP

For many of you this may be the first time you are responsible for managing a team remotely for what may be an extended period of time. Don’t fool yourself – it is different. Where before you could ‘see’ people were working, now you will need to alter how you evaluate employee productivity. How are you going to keep your team engaged and connected – especially when they may not all be working traditional hours? For those who work in a more pooled environment, as a management group you may want to discuss how to approach this ‘new’ reality and who will, specifically, check in with what team members, so as not to be overwhelming staff with check ins.

Here are some suggestions on managing this new reality:

  • Give expectations each day (can be via email) as to what your staff needs to accomplish and have them update you on what was accomplished at the end of each day. Hold people accountable. Then trust but verify, spot check, and review some of the work product. This will take more time and effort, but better to know sooner than later that items are done to your expectations.
  • Preschedule a 10-15 minute call with each person at least every 2 days – hear it for yourself what they are working on. Are there any concerns or questions they have? Have they hit any roadblocks? This is a great time to provide quick, constructive feedback or encouragement. There may not be anything too new for them to report on, but it is a planned short event and staff will want to have successes/progress to report. People get nervous when they are outside of their normal routines, so be the constant for them, providing consistency and guidance.
  • Consider having short team calls every couple of days to touch base on work, but ‘regular’ life as well. I strongly suggest that you do these in full video (using technology like Skype) versus just in audio format. It is nice to see your team and for them to see you! We tend to miss people’s faces, especially when you are working remote for an extended period of time. Maybe once a week have some fun with it – have a “wear a crazy hat call” or have the meeting at the end of the day and everyone can have a ‘drink’ together. Be creative.
  • Email out fun things for your staff to share with you that you can then share over the next few days with either your team or company (depending on your size). This can be their current favorite meme, a picture of their workspace, favorite motivational saying, a picture of their pets, etc. Make it fun, then share a couple of their photos and responses at a time over the course of a week.

Your job as a supervisor or manager will be different working remotely if this is not your typical norm. It will take some additional effort on your part – rise to the challenge and be the best version of a leader you can be!

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