3 Simple Rituals to Help You Manage Your Team Remotely
Sooo… you’ve probably seen hundreds of articles about remote work by now.
They’re popping up all over the place, now that most of the workforce is stuck at home. And most of them give good advice — great, even!
Here’s the problem, though. There’s a huge difference between choosing to work from home… and being forced to do it. Right now, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people don’t have any other choice.
So most of that advice about productivity, and efficiency, and all that good stuff, falls just a little flat. OK — a lot flat!
If you’ve suddenly found yourself running a remote team, it’s better to focus not on pushing for more productivity, or more structure, or greater efficiency…
…but on supporting your employees through these incredibly trying times. And supporting yourself, which is just as critical!
That’s what today’s article is all about. We’re going to share with you 3 super-simple rituals (or practices, if you prefer) that you can use as a manager to support your team.
And as a nice side-effect, they will help you boost morale, encourage accountability, and yes — help your team stay productive in this crisis.
Let’s dive in.
1. Keep morale high by sharing wins at meetings
We don’t need to tell you that this is a difficult time for everyone. That’s why finding even small ways to boost your team’s morale is more important now than it’s ever been.
So here’s an idea: from now on, kick off your team meetings with a little bit of positivity. Before you get down to business, ask each team member to share wins with everyone. As in, one personal win from their life and one work-related win.
They could be anything, big or small — tidying up a desk, making a sourdough starter (ah, the things we get up to on quarantine), having a kick-butt client consultation, writing an awesome subject line for the company newsletter… anything goes. Just keep these tight, ideally under 1 minute, or you’ll never get to the actual agenda!
This simple ritual doesn’t seem like much, but it helps to set a good mood for your meetings and provide a little bit of entertainment. And those are both things we could use more of!
Bonus tip: you could also encourage employees to mention their work wins in weekly or monthly reports. This doesn’t build camaraderie in the same way as doing it during a meeting, but it’s still a good morale boost that can make an otherwise stressful week seem a little bit more joyful.
2. Stay on track with weekly 1-on-1 check-ins
If you’re working remotely, then how can you keep close track of everyone on your team and what they’re doing?
It’s easy: you don’t!
No matter how much you’re tempted to micro-manage, watch everyone like a hawk using questionable software, or plan unnecessary meetings and progress reports… just don’t. Trust each team member to own their part of the workload, and manage their own productivity like an adult.
It doesn’t take much to keep a distributed team on track. All you need to do as a manager is — once a week, check in with each person on your team, one-on-one, for 15 minutes tops. We recommend doing it on Monday mornings to set the tone for the week ahead.
You want to keep these check-ins very simple and straightforward. Have a checklist of questions ready for each team member, like so:
- “What’s your #1 focus / top 3 objectives for this week?”
- “Is there anything I can do to make your role easier?”
- “Is there anything I’m unaware of that you think I should be?”
- (optional) “Do you have any ideas for how we can do better as a company?”
Notice that these questions don’t just keep your employee accountable. They keep you accountable as well! Accountability and trust are a two-way street, and you want to give each team member ways to ask for help or raise concerns.
Tracking progress, accountability, ideation… weekly check-ins like these will help you accomplish all that — in under 15 minutes.
3. Create a productive online coworking space
Working from home is amazing — at least, when you’re not forced to do it because there’s a pandemic on. But even then, let’s be honest… it gets a bit lonely sometimes.
Normally, you’d just come over to a colleague’s place (if they live nearby) and work on something side by side. Or pop down to your local coffee shop, open your laptop, and knock out a few productive hours.
Well, that’s not happening. Not for a while. So here’s the next best thing you could do: encourage your team to gather online and cowork.
It doesn’t even matter if they’re doing a shared project or their own thing. What matters is the process of being hard at work on something… while being around people who are also busy working. Even online, this kind of hunker-down-and-get-stuff-done environment helps your team members focus and make solid progress on their tasks.
(Also, it’s a wonderful distraction in these scary times.)
There’s a catch, though. Coworking together isn’t something you want to order people to do. It has to be voluntary — or all those benefits to focus and productivity will go bye-bye.
So how can you encourage it? Simple:
First, create a dedicated space for online coworking and let your team know about it. A special zoom room works really well, because people can drop in and out of there at will.
Then, lead by example. From time to time, drop a message into Slack (or whichever team communication app you’re using) saying, “Hey, does anyone want to cowork for a bit? I’ll be working on [Project] in our zoom room for the next 2 hrs if you wanna join me and do your own thing.”
You can also set aside time once a week (say, 12 pm to 2 pm) for coworking and invite people to join — if they want to. Remember: it has to be voluntary!
It’s OK to not have it all figured out
We heard a beautiful phrase on “The Uncertain Times” podcast a few days ago:
“This is our first pandemic.”
Everyone is confused and anxious (especially if they deny it), nobody has the right answers, and the best you can do to navigate this crisis is to figure it out as you go along — in any way that works for you.
We hope that this article has given you some ideas and actionable insights on how to make the coming few weeks easier on you and your team. Stay safe, stay healthy, and don’t forget to drop by our blog next week!
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