Leading Your Newly Remote Team

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Strategies for Leading a Remote Team

Now that the whole country has been thrown into remote work teams, let Spry be your spirit guide. We’ve spent 10 years practicing the art of leading remote teams and we can help you move down the path of chaos into the frame of productivity. This path has 6 guard rails.

All Team Weekly Video Chat

Holding a weekly all team video chat helps in a few different ways but you also need to observe a few key rules.

First, keep it short! We’re talking around 30 minutes. Be respectful of everyone’s time. Also, use the platform that works best for your business: Google Hangouts, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, etc. The key point here is to make it a video chat. There is something magical that happens when you can see each other’s faces. Your colleagues begin to take real form again and you start to feel like a team instead of a bunch of islands.

By seeing faces you can see how they are doing, what they are experiencing, and what their environment is like. Let everyone talk and process for the first third of the meeting. It’s ‘water cooler’ time. This is team bonding. Let people get their feelings out and share what they are going through.

By allowing this time in the beginning everyone is able to unclog their brain space and be more focused and productive during the rest of the meeting. During our meetings, we discuss what each member is focused on for the week and where they need support.

We continue this communication throughout the week by using an internal communication channel.

Spry Tip: One of our communication channels is named ‘Today at Spry.’ In this space each day, everyone drops a short message by a specified time indicating their to-do list for the day or what they intend to accomplish. This helps with accountability and making sure everyone is staying on track.

Learn Your Team’s Communication Styles

It will take a little time, but you have to do it. Learn each person’s preferred communication style and bend or adjust your own appropriately. As their leader, it is your responsibility to make sure they are getting direction in the way that works best from them. After all, you’ve hired them because of their amazing and unique brains! Don’t try to force them to all work in the way that best suits YOU.

Each of our employees is unique and works best with a different style. One likes to have focused work sessions where we each are working on different aspects of the same project, but messaging back and forth on our internal communication channel. Another likes a good phone call to check-in and quickly troubleshoot problems. Another one likes video chat while we each work on a list of tasks, but have each other available for on the spot workarounds. And lastly, we have one employee that blends these categories.

Have a little fun and ask everyone to take one of the personality tests available and then take time comparing and discussing what they mean about your work and communication styles. Spend the time to make time work more efficiently for you. 

Spry Tip: Here’s our favorite personality test tool. We’ve all taken it at least once, most of us take it every 6 months to one year. We like to compare and contrast results as we grow and learn over time and discuss what the results mean for each of us and how we like to do things.

Welcome Family Interruptions

We are in a stressful time. This is many peoples’ first time working from home and it might be your first time leading a remote team.

Keep in mind that your employees are likely worried about staying professional while they are in the home setting and being productive just as much as you worry about it for yourself and them. Not only are they working from home now, but their children of all ages are home and getting a little bit of cabin fever. Welcome family interruptions into your meetings. We all know they are going to happen, so why not handle them with love and support.

Respond positively and engage the child when they walk in the room. Let’s be honest. They aren’t interrupting. We are interrupting their home life. When your employees feel comfortable that the inevitable interruptions won’t be looked on unfavorably they can relax and be more focused knowing that the meeting will roll with waves and keep on going. If they think they need to act and behave differently than they normally do in their homes, it will be hard for them to get their work done.

Spry Tip: We all know and love each others’ children and pets. Embrace the crazy. Your team will reward you with undying loyalty.

This Ain’t No 9 to 5

We have all left the realm of 9 to 5 work. Let’s embrace it. Allow for odd working hours. We don’t have the luxury to go to the office during normal business hours and work anymore. We cook food, search for toilet paper, take care of kids, have more household chores, and hello homeschool…

The likelihood that people will be getting all of their work done during normal business hours is low. Account for that, be open to that, and make sure people know that it’s okay. What is important is that the work gets done and everyone stays sane doing it. 

Spry Tip: Some of our most productive meetings happen at 10 o’clock at night! And some of our most fun conversations.

Promote Self-Care 

Promote self-care through healthy eating and exercise. Make sure that your team knows it’s okay to take advantage of the good weather and go for a run, do yoga, or an exercise program. Tell them to put it on their Instagram Stories. Share that new recipe they tried out with the team. If they are feeling better then they’re going to be working better.

Spry Tip: We roll with it when somebody’s going to be away from their computer for a quick workout (or dinghy adventure with their kids). There’s always enough going on that we can switch our focus to something else if the person we need isn’t available right at that moment.

Be Vulnerable With Your Team and Accept it in Return

This time isn’t easy for any of us. It’s harder to get work done, harder to be efficient, harder to find balance. (Yes, even for us here at Spry who are used to remote working!! There are all manner of crazy stresses on each and every one of us right now.)

Your responsibility is to show your own vulnerability first. “Gosh darn it, I cannot focus today. We can’t seem to get anything done in our house without a fight. After our meeting, we are going to make popcorn and watch a movie. After the movie, I will get back to my work. If anyone has any questions during that time shoot me a message and if it is quick I will try and get to it.”

Say it in a meeting and check-ins. By acknowledging it yourself, you allow your team to acknowledge it too. Whether they are saying it or not right now, trust me, they are feeling it.

Giving them permission to say what they are feeling, especially their vulnerabilities, gives them the space to find a workaround and to ask for help.

Spry Tip: One amazing thing about our team is everybody’s willingness to help! There’ve been times when one or another of us has been offered help in a genuinely supportive manner, before even realizing that that is exactly what they needed.

We hope you’ve pulled a few helpful tips from this post. Do you have some other helpful tips and tricks for those new to the remote working arena? Join us in SprySpace, our Facebook group for digital teams by those working digitally.

Spry's remote working team

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