It can be a challenge to establish normalcy and manage remote teams during a global pandemic. Teams that have navigated the uncertainty of unpredictable lockdowns are more resilient, able to help customers adapt and face less staff turnover.
According to Founder of Geron1mo, a sales and marketing accelerator for F45 gyms, Andrew “Doza” Handosa, successfully managing his remote team during lockdown came down to tackling communication breakdowns, flipping the task ownership paradigm and addressing staff wellbeing head on.
Here are three practices Australian companies are using to keep business on track that you can apply without further cost to your business.
1. Flip Task Ownership for Employee Engagement
When working from home, ensuring team dependability can be a challenge. Focus can seem to subside, and deadlines are more often missed, especially when you see what’s new on Netflix!
Instead of having responsibility administered from the top down, it can be effective to flip the ownership and allow remote team members to self-manage by providing input and take control of projects.
The best accountability can come by managing your remote team from the ground up where team members can take control.
Establish regular connections to build in the pillars of ownership and accountability. Make sure you and your team are crystal clear on upcoming projects and deliverables with specific and time bound goals. Incentivising and running short team challenges, can also be a great way to keep motivation at a high when a regular routine is hard to come by.
It is also important to implement the right tools. With problematic internet connections and split attention spans adding to current disruption, focus on what you can control. Implement a flexible, easy-to-use tool to assign and keep on top of tasking. Make sure programs can work for all departments where you can build specific channels for communication. This will be vital in assigning ownership and accountability.
2. Reassess How Your Team Collaborates
Successful offices have refocused on workplace collaboration, not just communication.
Atlassian found up to 30 hours per month are wasted in unproductive meetings. Digging deeper, 91% of meeting goers have daydreamed, 45% have felt overwhelmed and 39% have even slept!
Ditch the drawn-out web calls for short-burst catch ups. Keep the attendee list to the smallest number with the aim of getting quick expertise from a fellow team member so teammates can move on.
Short Burst Catch Ups
The power in these short-burst catch up comes from focusing on the questions that lead to answers which get you back on track. Short bursts of problem solving can fuel your team’s motivation and productivity. Empower your team to avoid large groups on calls and to focus on supporting each other’s KPIs and weekly goals. This forces you to get back to basics and break down what is most important. There are far more opportunities to slot in a 15 minute chat as opposed to an hour long meeting.
Doza of Geron1mo was forced to pivot when gyms were locked down. With webcams hard to find and poor internet connections among members, he knew it was essential to uphold and strengthen existing connections.
“Bad communication ends a lot of good things.”Doza, Founder of Geron1mo
“Effective communication was crucial to upholding the connection with both team members and gym-goers. We favour phone calls over emails, and regular check-ins afterwards helped the community come together and look after each other”.
Power Retail understands effective communication and connection will be vital for workplaces finding their way in a post covid world.
Keep your team focused and motivated by starting your short burst catch-ups with openers that outline your need and include an element of reciprocity, a psychology need for humans to respond or help, such as:
- I need your help with …
- How can we move forward with…?
- How can we achieve …
- The purpose of this catch up is to…
- The next steps for us are …
- How can we better do…/ measure …
It is important to understand when a face-to-face meeting is necessary. Receiving endless notifications from chat programs such as Slack or Teams can end up creating more of a distraction. Need a professional, distraction free area? Workit Spaces offers a range of meeting rooms.
3. Prioritise Your Team’s Mental Health
Working from home isn’t the workplace panacea for everyone. If you’re working from home for extended periods of time, your only social conversation can be with the check-out chick at the supermarket or your takeaway delivery driver. Isolation is real and employees may feel they need to mask the extent to which they’re feeling it. Employee wellbeing is key in managing remote teams.
Adaptable businesses check in with each other. At Geron1mo, they call it “raising awareness with people and their mojo”.
“We never speak about work first,” says Doza.
“We built resilience from strong leadership, by always keeping the team informed, keeping the team resilient and explicitly pushing that out to our members. You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
And when you’re ready, don’t just return to work, redesign it.