Now, more than ever, teams are faced with figuring out the best ways to work from home without sacrificing efficiency, productivity, and most importantly, connectivity.
Josh Nazarian, President at Eliassen Group, recently hosted a discussion with a group of experts on best practices for high-performing virtual teams. The panelists included:
- Jason Botts – Sr. Business Adviser at Silicon Systems Consulting
- Kelley Ealy – Director, Information Security Risk Management at Change Healthcare
- Sean Hafferty – Director of Agile Solutions at Eliassen Group
- Matthew Waugh – Director, Learning at Cisco
The conversation covered a number of challenges faced when managing a team that is working remotely, along with each panelist’s advice on how to overcome each challenge.
One major point of discussion was setting expectations for when team members should be accessible, with the hope that this helps individuals officially “sign off,” at the end of the day.
Kelley explained, “Something I’ve worked on is saying ‘this is when I end work,’ then not feeling guilty about it.” She recommends setting an alarm or calendar reminder to tell you when it’s time to wrap up for the day.
Similarly, Sean recommends that leaders hold their email until normal business hours, even if you find yourself getting a bit of work done in the early hours because you can’t sleep. This ensures that direct reports don’t feel like they can’t shut off and must respond to your emails immediately, even in off-hours.
Of course, different methods work for different teams, but Matthew Waugh explained that on his team, expectations are set around the completion of work, not the exact hours people are working. As long as work is completed, the schedule people keep matters less. “Good quality work, [delivered] on time matters more than how you achieve it.”
Ultimately, the crux of the conversation focused on the dichotomy of managing your team closely to ensure they are held accountable and trusting them to complete their work.
Jason Botts recommends checking in regularly with 30-minute Scrum-types of meetings. As he explains, the purpose of this meeting isn’t to ask, ‘is everyone doing their work?’ but rather ‘how can we help each other?’
The bottom line? Helping your team produce their best work while remote comes down to open communication and trust.
“You have to work harder at relationships and communication,” explains Matthew, which means “not only calling when you need something.”
As Kelley simply put it: “Open yourself up as a human being, and keep in touch that way.”
Ultimately, the secret of managing a high-performing team remotely is the same as that of managing one in person- it comes down to trusting in and caring about your team members. People are willing to keep up the good work for a leader who believes in them.