With the rise of COVID-19, working from home has become a necessity rather than an option. For managers who are used to coordinating with employees on-site, the sudden shift to remote management can be quite jarring. Not only do you need to monitor a team that you can’t see in person, but you’ll also need better time management skills to keep everyone on track.

At first, it may be hard for you to adjust to a virtual team set-up. But besides learning to use new apps or tools, your responsibilities as a manager remain largely unchanged. If you’re still struggling to get your bearings, though, read on for some tips to help you manage your remote team.

Communicate as Often as You Can

In a virtual office set-up, effective communication skills become absolutely crucial to success. Because you can’t just drop by an employee’s desk to check on their progress, you’ll need to put in more of an effort to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

This is especially true during these trying times, wherein everyone has no choice but to stay indoors while lockdowns are in place. Despite the benefits that one can gain from a work-from-home setup, it also comes with a few downsides of its own.

One such disadvantage has to do with the fact that you don’t have anybody else to talk to in person. Indeed, a major difference between working from home and working in an office is the loneliness and isolation that can set in, a feeling that’s only amplified by forced confinement. If left unchecked, this psychological effect could drastically reduce your employees’ productivity.

Hence, make it a point to reach out to each of your team members as much as you can. Ask them how they’re doing and if they need help with their workload. Let them know that your communication lines are always open and that they should feel free to contact you if they have any questions.

Opt for Video Meetings Whenever Possible

Another major difference between on-site and remote work is the lack of in-person interactions. While emailing, texting, and instant messaging can get the job done, this impersonal communication approach can add to your employees’ feeling of isolation.

Phone conversations and online calls are a little better, as the ability to hear other people can help employees feel a little less lonely. They also allow you to listen in on audio cues (such as the tone or volume of your employees’ voices) so you can get a better idea of what’s on their minds.

However, the best way to interact with your remote team is through a video conferencing app. That’s because strictly audio-only calls won’t allow you to see an employee’s body language. Without these visual cues, you’ll have a harder time knowing what an employee is thinking or feeling.

So, the next time you need to hold a meeting, encourage everybody to do a video conference. Pay careful attention to your employee’s gestures and facial expressions. If you notice any employee who looks uncomfortable, reach out to them after the meeting and ask them if anything is wrong. That way, you’ll be able to fix small problems before they have a chance to get any worse.

Set Expectations, But Allow for Some Flexibility

When it comes to remote setups, you can’t possibly manage every aspect of your employees’ work. While it can be tempting to check on them every few minutes, this can make your team members feel as if you don’t trust or respect them.

To help you curb this tendency, it’s best to create realistic expectations for their work. At the start of the day, clearly outline their assignments as well as the reasons behind them. Make sure to provide them with complete information, such as the scope of the work, deadlines and milestones, and the exact deliverables for each task or project. Don’t forget to explain to your team how you will measure their performance after they’re done.

After setting their expectations, you should learn to manage your own as well. Given the circumstances caused by the current crisis, you can’t expect them to work at the same capacity as they did back in the office. But instead of seeing this as a disadvantage, treat this as an opportunity to show your team that you trust them. As such, give them the freedom and flexibility they need to be at their most productive. Instead of tracking how many hours they’ve rendered for the day, focus on the quality of their output.

In Conclusion

While it’s true that remote work comes with its own unique set of challenges, it’s not impossible to pull it off. As long as you keep these tips in mind, you shouldn’t have a problem successfully managing your team from home.