In my experience, many managers feel uncomfortable about people working remotely when they are used to always having their team on-site. In this post I briefly discuss what might be the core of the issue, how to deal with it and once that is settled how to get started with transitioning a team to a remote work setup.
One of the main concerns I encounter when it comes to teams with people working remotely, is that team members will lack discipline to set up a productive daily routine while not in the office. Managers also worry that when people are not seated close to each other, communication will be too erratic to be effective and flow of work will suffer. A common measure used to cope with such concerns is having people on-site where a manager can exert continuous supervision and course correct when needed. This brings a sense of control and relative ease of mind. But the thing is: it is misleading and those measures don’t address the root cause of the problem.
I strongly believe that when as a manager I am doing my job right, my team knows what is expected from them, what the current priorities are and stays motivated. Therefore I can trust my team to take responsibility, self-organize and carry out their tasks to the best of their ability no matter where they are located. On the other hand, when expectations and priorities are unclear, responsibilities vague and team motivations unattended, the team will struggle to be effective even if they all sit right next to each other. I might spot and address some problems here and there, but if I end up micromanaging it isn’t effective either. Switching one’s mindset here, in my opinion, is vital for building high performing teams, because it allows a manager to search for root problems that need to be solved and constantly strive for improvement. What is more, it can help to remove one’s limiting beliefs that remote teams can’t be as effective as onsite ones.
Of course remote work brings some challenges that need to be addressed to remove common restraints that can slow your team down. If you don’t have one in place already, you might want to start with setting up your team’s standard routine that will provide a framework for daily collaboration and should help each team member in organizing their work schedule. In software development Scrum teams, it is fairly easy, as they usually already run daily Scrum meetings and have an established workflow that they follow. Next, you can choose from a myriad of available tools and apps to pick ones that best support your team’s workflow and facilitate daily collaboration. When you have the basics covered and are more accustomed with a remote team setup, you can start discovering practices and tools that can push your team’s performance to the next level.
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