“I can’t get through his phone, he must be slacking”
“How do we coordinate our work and ensure work is delivered on time?
“I have been working all day, not sure if my team is putting in the same effort.”
These must be rampant thoughts you get when you are working from home. Getting into the rhythm of working from home is difficult and it gets even more annoying when your work is interdependent.
How do you then effectively manage your team and hit a jackpot?
Common Challenges of managing a team that works from home
You know the pesky challenges that come with working from home-
- Miscommunication is real when working from home. It is one of the perils of working from home. Beware, as there is no face to face conversation there is more room for errors in the way you talk and the way it is perceived. There is a high possibility of not communicating the point or agenda clearly.
- Keeping employees engaged is one of the biggest pain points while working from home. Lack of engagement also leads to a feeling of insecurity which can cripple your system.
- Ensuring high performer employees experience the right kind of challenges to perform and deliver. Sometimes it could get to a point where your employees may not feel challenged and that can have a devastating effect.
- More importantly, the biggest worry is to ensure the work gets delivered on time.
A reliable guide to managing your team when working from home.
How do you manage a team that has different work styles, are in different countries/cities and in different time zones and get the desired results?
Here is a list of 5 powerful and proven techniques that will make work from home more effective and your team more efficient.
- Define expectations
This is the most important factor. Define the context of work. The more clearly this is explained; the lesser confusion and better productivity. This helps you in building a dependable team. Explicitly explain to your team what they need to create. Clearly define the objectives, deadlines, parameters metrics, and reports.
· Define what needs to be achieved by when and why.
· Define clear roles and responsibilities for each team member
- Establish structured rules of daily engagement
Decide beforehand how you will connect for work because that will help you in getting over most of your problems. Establish a clear system of check-ins. Design a table that gives the number of times and the time slot for check-ins. This will help you align with each other in a fantastic manner.
Work from home becomes productive when you lay out a clear system.
Clearly define how the team members can engage with you and with each other for work. Define the frequency, channel and time for communication.
Eg: you may use video calls for daily check-ins, phone for clarifying doubts, chats for quick replies. Also, maintain a proper work time just like the office time, so people don’t burn out or procrastinate work.
- Chart out the frequency of check-in with time slots.
- Define the channel of communication with a purpose
- Casual connect
Make it a point to connect casually with your team and socialize. This will have astonishing results. It’s important to have non-work talks to share a feeling of belonging.
Power up your team with these casual conversations. The easiest way to have these talks is at the beginning of calls. Another way could be to have a virtual party with your team.
Casual conversation helps in reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety.
- Fix 10 mins every day to have a casual chat with your team
- On weekend do a virtual party
- Encourage & listen
It’s important that you genuinely appreciate and encourage employees for their remarkable work. Appreciation and recognition are even more necessary when working from home because employees need to know they are doing a good job.
Support employees and provide emotional support by listening to them and helping them get over their anxieties and concerns.
- Send appreciation notes to individuals who are doing exceptionally well, marking the team.
- Schedule one on one call with employees to understand if they have any difficulties or anxieties.
- Create backups
Create backups for people and rock-solid processes for your work. Be prepared for emergencies and set up a process of how to handle work in critical conditions so that you will be secure during testing times.
- Create standard processes so everyone on the team knows about the work process and deliverable.
- Create a common repository where all the work is stored.
- Use a project management system to keep a track of work.
Don’t worry! Work from home can be a stupendous success if you get people to work in sync and with cheery passion. More importantly, people should know their unique roles and should be able to fulfil work commitments independently. You may have incredible tools and technology, but if your employees are not aligned, the quality of work will remain poor.
By Gauri Palekar