By Laura Heath
If you’ve always managed a team based in the same location as you, moving from an office-based team to having some or all of your team working remotely can be a significant transition.
As so many businesses in the UK are now offering their employees remote and home working options, UK IT managed services company, TSG, are here to share some practical advice for leading remote teams and protecting productivity.
- Keep in touch regularly
This sounds kind of obvious, right? It’s easy to forget, though, and it’s so important.
Make sure you contact your team every day, whether you have a stand-up-type call at the start of the day or more informal chats through the day. If we go an entire day without seeing or talking to our team, we can begin to feel disconnected and isolated. You could even introduce ‘watercooler’ calls – encouraging your team to join you on video conferences with their cuppas and chat for 15 mins about anything and everything. The likes of Microsoft Teams channels can be ideal for sharing non-work-related topics that might interest everyone.
- Turn your video on!
And encourage your team to do the same. This might not work for everyone all of the time, but as you’re likely looking at your workforce operating remotely for a significant period of time, this helps you mimic face-to-face meetings. It’s easier to read colleagues’ reactions and convey your sentiment if you’re able to see each other. If you’re worried about the messy bookshelf/sofa/room behind you, use the magic background blur button on Teams so that your colleagues will only see you.
- Pick up the phone
If you have an important question or need to delegate something urgent to a member of your team, call your colleague rather than emailing or instant messaging. If they’re busy and you need to get on, set a pop-up reminder to tell you when they are back online or are available – this is standard functionality within Microsoft Teams.
That’s not to say instant messaging doesn’t have a place; messaging your team throughout the day with less critical items or if you’re unable to make a call is another essential way to ensure you’re regularly touching base with your team.
- Be focused and available
Even remotely, it’s noticeable to your team when you’re not focused or if you’re distracted. Even if you think you look available and online, your colleagues will be able to tell if you’re not as focused or productive as usual. That said, we’re all more productive when we take regular breaks, and this is even more important when working from home. If you’re taking a break, let your team know by setting a message in your status to let them know when you’ll be back online.
- Make sure your team members have everything they need
Many companies are now using Microsoft Teams for conference calls, instant messaging, collaborating and sharing documents, as well as using Microsoft Planner for organising and managing our productivity. Whatever solution you choose to use, make sure your team is familiar with using it and that your people have everything they need to access your business solutions from home. This could come in the form of cloud-based solutions like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, or using a VPN to access your on-premises business-critical systems.
Laura Heath is Head of Product Development at TSG, a managed IT services company with locations around the UK, specialising in IT support and solutions, security and applications including Office 365 and Sage.