5 tips of how to be an effective manager when working remotely
Many companies have been responding to the Coronavirus by encouraging employees to work from home. For those who haven’t worked from home before, this can be an interesting challenge. As a remote manager for the past decade, I thought I’d share some recommendations of how you can still be an effective manager and drive business, even when you and your team are working remotely.
- Set daily 15-30 minute check-ins for the team. Initially this may seem like micromanaging if you are used to having a weekly meeting. It isn’t. It’s to replace the walk-by conversations that you are used to having in the office. These could be once or twice per/day, but a daily check-in just to ask questions, provide guidance, get a pulse on projects, discuss outcomes of meetings that have occurred or shift directions -- they are an effective method to ensure alignment. This should be different from weekly meetings where discussions are more strategic, the dailies are designed to be tactical.
- Start early. The benefit of working from home is that you don’t lose time commuting. The beginning of your day can be a great time to have 1-2 focus hours before meetings begin to knock out projects. For me, they are among the most productive of my day.
- Still have informal discussions. Don’t wait for meetings. I encourage my team to feel welcome to ping me anytime. Some of the most valuable conversations I have with members of my team is when they ping me asking if I can talk quickly on a new idea, a question they have… whether that be a 5 minute conversation in between meetings, or an hour brainstorm after work. Think about all the great conversations you’ve had just talking in the office, or over lunch, or at drinks after work, you still need to create an environment for those discussions to occur -- they’re hugely valuable.
- Find your discipline. Dedicate a place in your home just for work. Start your day at the same time -- make sure your family knows when you’re in the work zone you can’t be interrupted. Create a routine and stick to it. For example, I spend the first 30 minutes of my day checking any overnight emails or slacks from our international teams, then I spend another 10-15 minutes checking my daily reports, and after that I spend an hour working on projects. It’s very easy to find yourself less productive simply because you haven’t adjusted your routine for working from home when you’re used to being in the office.
- Your colleagues are your partners. While as a manager it’s your responsibility to provide direction, it is also the responsibility of your team (or your team leads) to be your strategic partners. You need to be able to trust and enable your team to make decisions on your behalf, and know when it’s necessary to loop you in. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to set this expectation. This means when you have 1:1 discussions with your team members, either formally or informally, part of that discussion should be ensuring they are providing the right transparency to you, and you verbally stating what it is you need them to own. In the office you can clearly see when members of your team are working and who they’re meeting with, when you’re working remotely it comes down to trust and partnership.
Would love to hear others thoughts on successful tips and tricks they’ve found, or challenges they’ve faced, when working from home.