4 key takeaways from managing virtual teams during the COVID-19 pandemic

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  • COVID-19 and lockdown have put many managers worldwide in charge of remote teams.
  • Managing remote teams can be a daunting task, but the four lessons below can help to succeed in it.

When we all started working remotely as a result of the pandemic, I suspect we may have seen it as a temporary fix. With it now becoming clear that for many of us it will be more permanent, I’m being asked for advice about how I manage teams remotely.

So, I thought I’d share a couple of observations, relink to a previous blog I wrote and, finally, share a link to an article that provides some good advice.

These are four things that have worked really well for me over the years:

  1. Get to know your team. I assess and work hard to understand team dynamics, identify the different personalities within the team, and then use that knowledge to work out how team members will best work together. This helps me to assign tasks and avoid conflict.
  2. Be sensitive to team members’ home work environments. The important thing to consider here is that different team members will be working in different home conditions. Find out about the different environments your teams are using – there could be technology constraints, child care issues, especially during COVID-19 and lockdown, etc. Keep that information in mind when scheduling meetings, allocating tasks, setting deadlines and so on. Acknowledging that you understand colleagues’ different work challenges can go a long way to help maintain morale and engagement.
  3. Set clear expectations, communicate regularly and have processes in place to manage projects remotely. I always encourage my team to use the technology that’s out there to help make remote working easier. I work hard to keep communications clear, regular and straightforward. I am also available, should members wish to discuss issues or follow up on projects with me personally.
  4. Employee self-care. Something that can happen when employees first start working remotely is that they overcompensate and feel they need to be at their computer and working all the time.  Keep an eye out for emails sent at unusual times and consider employee wellbeing when allocating tasks, among other things. My recently published blog – How will you stay positive and energized while working from home – provides practical advice to help employees maintain good home working practices. Also remember simple things like putting time aside between calls and activities to find out how your employees are doing. This will also have a positive impact on team morale/performance.

I know managing remote teams, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, can feel daunting – so remember to also seek advice from experienced colleagues and read up on the subject. I found this article particularly useful.