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Best Practices for Successfully Managing Remote Teams

Jan Rezab
September 17, 2020
According to a study by McKinsey, 62% of employed Americans have worked at home during the pandemic and the results show that 80% of people actually enjoyed working remotely - and 41% felt more productive than before, and 28% were just as productive.

COVID-19 has shaken up our world and accelerated the world’s largest working from home experiment. None of us knew how it would impact business productivity. At scale, we’re seeing that it’s working well. According to a study by McKinsey, 62% of employed Americans have worked at home during the pandemic and the results show that 80% of people actually enjoyed working remotely - and 41% felt more productive than before, and 28% were just as productive. That may seem like positive findings on a macro level, but as a manager, how can you really ensure that your team is being managed effectively at home? 

You have to be able to measure these aspects through data to get the right picture. This is where Productivity Analytics comes into play. The pandemic has changed the nature of work and accelerated a digital transformation in the process. Organizations went from physical workspaces and utilizing digital collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, then shifted to using these tools completely for online communication. It was a swift change and leadership is facing a very set of unique circumstances. 

There are many unprecedented challenges to managing remote employees, and this is a trend that’s been happening prior to the pandemic - and it has affected everything from hiring to managing employees. Buffer’s State of Remote Work report covers some of the top challenges we’re seeing across industries and businesses. 

If you’re a manager, how do you deal with productivity, loneliness, and overall management

Collaboration/communication and loneliness are the top two biggest concerns, so across the board management should be looking at ways to strengthen connectedness. There needs to be a happy medium though because, on the other hand, too much communication can lead to employee burnout. Managers need to put their impulse of micromanaging behavior in check. 

It’s natural that the lack of face-to-face supervision has managers worried that their employees might not be working as hard or as efficiently. However, we’re seeing that the opposite is true as mentioned in the McKinsey study. Take that with a ‘grain of salt’, as this might not be true at your department or even team level. 

So you need to ask yourselves the following questions:

  1. Are my number of recurring meetings taking up too much time so I can’t focus on my work? Is it necessary for all regular attendees to be there? How did this change the dynamic of time management? 
  2. As a manager, do I give my employees enough attention through 1:1 meetings to manage them effectively? How do I balance my schedule with managing vs. focusing on my own time? 
  3. Which teams are at the risk of burning out? Is there an overall communication overload?

Remember, having more meetings doesn’t equal more productivity and can put your employees at risk of burnout. So what can you do about it? 

Strengthen Communication but Don’t Go Overboard 

Managers of remote teams need to set the expectations for their teams with clear rules around communication channels. Creating routines will be critical to minimize the feeling of overwhelming communication that increases the risk/chance of burnout - so avoid informal,  last-minute, or meetings scheduled less than 24 hours in advance. It’s time to reevaluate your meetings - don’t have a meeting for the sake of a meeting. 

  • Overcommunicating due to the absence of remote working policy best practices can be a real drag. Consider reducing those 60-minute video conferences to brief 15 to 30 minute daily check-ins or a simple transparent Slack/Microsoft Teams/Webex message. 
  • Are your employees properly onboarded with the right solutions or could they be using programs that are not approved? That could affect their productivity or create communication silos. 

Understanding how well your employees are using collaboration tools, if at all - or are abusing them - can help you uncover inefficiencies in productivity which could be costing you. Only by getting a good handle on this can you tell how efficient your teams are working from home. Knowing this will help you get one step closer to becoming an effective manager of remote teams. 

Time is Ltd. offers the world’s first productivity analytics platform to help measure team digital collaboration through G Suite data and other API integrations. Making sense of remote work and managing your team effectively is extremely difficult without the right tools and data. Understanding whether your teams collaborate efficiently will be the key to success. 

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At Time is Ltd., we measure digital collaboration and productivity, without ever sacrificing employee privacy. We provide an advanced analytical SaaS platform that delivers a holistic view of an organization collaboration patterns. We measure your team’s digital footprint to improve communication, productivity as well as save precious time. Our approach only aggregates meta-data from a variety of data sources, to show how your teams work with your collaboration tools so you can get them more productive and motivated.

Jan Rezab

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