Ten tips for leading telecommuting teams

In addition to avoiding situations of risk of contagion by the coronavirus, for a year and a half, teleworking has shown that it can facilitate productivity and work-life balance and that the workforce is favorable to non-permanence. “Most companies will keep their offices, although they will be used more flexibly,” explains Eva Rimbau, professor of economics and business studies at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), which will facilitate the existence of “hybrid” models. Remote work seems to have been maintained and this situation opens up new work fronts, such as the one affecting team leaders. Employees have become dispersed, both in space and in time, and the people who lead them have new skills to apply and develop.

Only 19% of leadership positions in a study of 400 representatives had a strategy for working remotely before the COVID-19 pandemic and those that were planned, the report notes, had notable gaps. On-the-job learning led to 44% of respondents saying they had improved proactive communication and 78% trusting models more than tools to control tasks performed. Despite this, another study indicates that 40% of the 200 supervisors surveyed expressed little confidence in their ability to organize the telework of their subordinates and nearly 60% of those surveyed in another survey feared that the lack of presence could affect their cohesion and employee commitment. .

“The good management of dispersed teams can be a great opportunity to obtain and manage talent, gain efficiency, move towards digital transformation and reduce operational and environmental costs”, lists the human resources expert, who offers a decalogue issues that the people in charge of teleworking models must take into account:

1. Meet the team

The leaders must know “the activities and the circumstances” of each person of the team and mark a “clear mission” for each one, specifies the specialist of the human resources. Each, yes, must have assigned functions and organize “coordination sessions” with the participation of all.

2. Define tasks

“Each team member should know what they are doing, what others are doing and what is expected of each other,” recommends Rimbau, who is committed to setting results and goals to be achieved together. You should also know how to provide tools to keep track of documents or files created by others.

3. Choose tools

Video conferences can be, according to the UOC professor, a good tool to “minimize misunderstandings and distortions” in the face of e-mails or messages, but she cautions that it should not be “overused”. You have to choose which technology is most appropriate, he says, for each team and each position.

4. Training for all

Training is necessary for all members of the team, both for the person leading it and for the rest of the employees. And it is vital that you acquire knowledge of the tools, but also of other basic issues to work without seeing yourself, such as “communication skills, time management or digital disconnection”. Once they are trained, remember, their application must also be “monitored”.

5. More confidence

“Confidence increases efficiency, productivity, optimism, information sharing and the ease of asking for help”, summarizes the professor of the UOC, who warns that, in the virtual environment, it develops “more slowly”. Therefore, he asks leaders to prioritize mutual knowledge in face-to-face meetings, but also to demonstrate trust through positive reinforcement and avoid conflict with a “clear” division of labor.

6. Improve autonomy

The expert offers more autonomy for the members of the team and more adapted to each one, to what he wants or can. “A certain autonomy is essential for teleworking to succeed”, he defends, in addition to the fact that, he emphasizes, “this reduces conflicts”. For this skill, it is necessary, he adds, “to avoid closely supervising” each worker and to make it possible to solve the problems which arise in the execution of the tasks.

7. Socio-emotional support

The leader in the new telecommuting environment must support the team, but must also treat its members as independent people and closely monitor each of them. “Individual problems should be dealt with individually by practicing active listening,” suggests the teacher, pointing to fear or stress as vital issues to consider.

8. Communicate well

Although remotely, the work team must have a virtual space to express themselves in a bidirectional way with “contributions and evaluations”. Communication is essential to work well remotely, even if it must be established, specifies the expert, “calmly and with the recognition of everyone’s effort”.

9. Space to innovate

New ideas can emerge from unplanned conversations, so despite the lack of a common physical space, these moments of “informal exchange of ideas” should not be overlooked and collaborative working tools that foster innovation should. be promoted, advises Rimbau. .

10. Improve the system

“Teleworking is not the same as working online,” recalls the professor of Economic and Business Studies, so that once remote work is installed, the system must move forward. “It is a process, not a state”, specifies the expert.

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