Learn the Best Ways to Manage a Remote Workforce in 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic upended the work world seemingly overnight. While remote work was already growing in popularity, many companies had to pivot rapidly. Mass vaccination will eventually end the pandemic, likely toward the end of 2021, but remote work seems to be here to stay. If you’re keeping your workforce remote in the new year, here are some tips to become a better remote manager.

Tackle video awkwardness

Broadway stars who transition to film or television have to learn a whole new way of acting, and managers who transition to video calls must learn a new way of interacting. A camera can make you feel uncomfortable, so make clearing out the awkwardness a top priority.

  • Memorize a greeting: The first few seconds of a remote meeting can be unnerving. Meet the moment head-on with a memorized greeting that will get you on track. It doesn’t have to be complicated. Just a simple “Hi everyone!” or “Thank you all for being here today” will suffice. Avoid references to time, as your remote staff may be in different time zones.
  • Watch your hands: Everything is heightened on video, so even small hand movements such as spinning your earring can be extremely distracting. Consciously keep your hands out of camera range unless you are using gestures to make a point.
  • Start with small talk: You’ll need a few moments to smooth out any technical glitches, but you don’t want to come across like you’re doing sound checks for a band. Instead of “Testing, testing” or “Can everyone see me?” use a fun conversation starter. Try, “Does anyone have plans for this weekend?” or “Tell me something good that happened today.” This will get people involved from the outset, and they’ll be sure to let you know if there are any technical issues.
  • Set clear expectations

    One of the biggest benefits employees get from working remotely is flexibility. They can generally work when they want from wherever they choose. But they need to have clear project goals and tasks to accomplish, along with deadlines. You may also need specific team members to be available at certain times of the day.

    Setting clear expectations helps your remote team achieve success. Beyond goals, deadlines, and tasks, there are also practical considerations for remote teams. What’s the best way to reach each person during the workday? What times do they need to be reachable, and when can they relax and not worry about checking messages? Also, make sure they know how to reach you and what your off-hours are. Also, think about after-hours protocols in case of an emergency.

    Keep the lines of communication open

    Communication is key to successful management, and when you’re not all together in the same building, maintaining communication is even more critical. Schedule regular team meetings as well as occasional one-on-ones with each team member. At every meeting, open the floor for feedback on the process. Also, offer additional ways for employees to give feedback, such as by email, and be sure to follow up.

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