Adapting to remote management

22 April 2020
While more and more companies are getting into telecommuting, this method - so abruptly imposed by the covid-19 lockdown - is a complete novelty for some of them. The current background is forcing us to organize work differently, which also means new ways of managing people. So how do you manage your people remotely ?

The rise of remote management

Remote management involves managing teams of people not physically working in a company’s offices. Because the digital revolution has profoundly changed the way we work, more employees can now function from any location provided they have internet access. The ability to work remotely has become a recruitment asset for companies, since it showcases their organizational flexibility and the trust they place in their employees.
A number of situations require remote management: when team members are teleworking, when teams located in geographically distant sites need managing, or when a project is common to several entities. In any case, remote management calls for adaptation and new ways of doing things.

Adapting your management style

The sudden switch to telecommuting to cope with the health crisis may have disrupted business operations and planning. Distance requires employees to implement new working methods. As a manager, you also have to adapt to keep dialogue and project management flowing smoothly at several levels.
To start with, your organization will naturally have to change to some degree. The fact that people are working remotely obviously brings change to their professional situations and can be a source of stress, a fact that must be taken into account. However, distance should not prevent projects from unfolding smoothly, and keeping progress going at a brisk pace is completely possible! To do this, it is important to establish new rules, since support cannot be given as consistently as face-to-face. For instance, you may want to set mid-term goals to make sure things are going in the right direction. Providing time for Q&A can also help maintain a good balance with team members.

Maintaining good relationships

Maintaining a good relationship with your remote employees is also work! Distance should not affect the professional relationship between team members and their manager. To keep teamwork functioning smoothly, you need to anticipate their needs as much as possible and to be available for them, even if it takes a little more time. Team members must feel that they can always query their manager. Even at a distance, the manager must also be open to more personal matters.
Last but not not least, with this type of management, clear communication is more important than ever. An effort must be made to regularly make sure that the work to be done has been properly understood. Prioritizing tasks can also help all team members to better understand what work needs to be done, and also provides the impression of being guided. Whenever possible, communicating information simultaneously is the best practice. A consistent level of information across the team will ensure that each member does not feel that he or she has been slighted, which can happen more easily in a remote work situation. Taking the time to communicate clearly about the aspects of a project launched remotely and to answer any questions that may arise means time saved later on: by helping to limit back-and-forths, for instance.

Best practices

While the situation may not always be a comfortable one, remote management can be an opportunity to develop trust in your coworkers. It is a good way to encourage team members to achieve their goals, insofar as successful teleworking relies heavily on a properly balanced manager-employee relationship.
When team members work far away from each other, cohesion can be weakened. Maintaining cohesion is crucial for a manager: team spirit fosters motivation and a sense of belonging to the company. In a teleworking environment, it is also important to make sure that no employee feels isolated.
Maintaining a stable link with the teams is essential, and totally possible! This can be achieved for instance by scheduling time slots dedicated to collective discussion such as weekly videoconferences, where everyone can feel free to talk about the subjects of their choice. Providing feedback also encourages discussion.
What with transport strikes and the lockdown, 2020 marks the massive development of remote management in company life. These events will no doubt have contribute to take this skill to new levels.