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Managing remote teams in challenging times

Managing remote teams in challenging times
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Over the coming weeks the CMHA will be putting out regular resources to help organisations support their colleagues during the COVID-19 outbreak.

This week, Alison Unsted, Director, Strategy & Operations  at the CMHA talks about managing remote teams.

Key takeaways can be found below and you can watch the video here:

Key takeaways:

  1. Think about those who may not be familiar with remote working.  Don’t make assumptions about peoples’ familiarity or competence with different technologies. If you have guidance or training, make sure it is accessible.

  2. Consider access to company information.  Does everyone have access to the organisation’s intranet? To key documents on sharing platforms? How can people find information they need? This is particularly true for newer members of the team who can’t just turn to the person next to them to ask a question.

  3. What communication channels do you have?   What can you use in teams for quick, informal questions and communications?

  4. Be tolerant of interruptions.  We are working in less than ideal circumstances. Some people will be juggling work with childcare or other caring commitments. Some people may not have a dedicated space to work in their home. Therefore, be flexible and allow your teams to manage their workloads. Trust is key. Focus on output rather than time.

  5. Set clear expectations.  This is important as people have lost the distinction between the home and the office. Managers should set expectations and guidelines and encourage wellbeing behaviours. For example, ensure your team are taking adequate breaks and taking time away from their desk e.g. to eat lunch, exercise or connect with someone socially. Also, set clear boundaries about working hours and make sure those that are taking annual leave are taking a break from work and not working through.

  6. Think about diary management.  Avoid back-to-back online meetings or long meetings without any breaks. In an office environment there are typically natural pauses, whether that’s to move from room to room or to grab a drink. Encourage your members to schedule regular breaks during the day and to have breaks between meetings to move around and refresh themselves.

  7. Encourage teams to be active and to eat well.  Perhaps share some home workout schedules. Can you set team activities and challenges that might encourage more participation?

  8. Think about the impact of increased communication online.  We will see increased email traffic and instant messaging. Set some rules around this. For example, you don’t always need to reply all. Be clear if responses are needed and when they are needed by.

  9. Stay connected and support your team.  There will be team members who welcome the quiet uninterrupted time to focus on their work. But there will be others who will struggle with the lack of interaction with their team members. Think about those who may need additional supervision such as new members of the team or trainees. Ask team members about their individual needs. How would they like to be communicated with and how often? Set up regular calls with your team. Both 1-1 and with your team together. These may need to be scheduled on a more regular basis than normal. Keep ways of connecting under constant review. Is it working for everybody? Can a buddy or a co-worker be provided to new employees?

  10. Find ways to prevent isolation and loneliness.  In team meetings and 1-1s, don’t just talk about work. Ask people how they are and how they are feeling. Know where to signpost someone to support if they need it. Make opportunities to connect on a more social basis with members of the team. For example, at the CMHA we have booked in two extra calls a week to catch up, not centered around work. Don’t forget about the regular celebrations like birthdays or work anniversaries.