Shelter in Place: How to Manage Your Suddenly Remote Team


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Like trains, people often chug along each day, settling into their workplace routines in almost-automated ways. However, when the unexpected takes place, it can toss a wrench into everyone’s routine. When a natural disaster, severe weather or pandemic strikes, you could end up managing a 100-percent remote team, even if you’ve never done so before. But, your organization can thrive in the face of uncertainty if you know how to manage your suddenly remote team the right way.

Managing a Newly-Remote Team: Five Simple Steps to Get Started

1. Touch Base Often Using the Best Platforms

Be in regular communication with your co-workers by phone, email and via meeting platforms like Google Hangouts or Zoom. The best way to communicate remotely is by face to face video. That way you get to see each other, which can combat the feelings of isolation when working remotely. A daily meeting to set goals, assign tasks and have a discussion can provide the information your team needs to keep going.

Another effective way to disseminate information is via an internal newsletter that you can send out each day. Include resources, updates, achievements and instructions for your team. A newsletter is a source your team members can refer to throughout the day and get the most pertinent information. With the help of, you can automate the process while still being able to personalize it to suit any situation that arises.

2. Leverage the Top Collaboration Tools

The goal during a sudden work disruption is to keep everyone connected so they can collaborate. Thankfully, there are many tools for working together, such as Slack, Asana, Basecamp, Trello and Microsoft Teams. You may already be using many of these same tools, and they are free of charge, as well.

Do you have hourly employees? They can track their time easily via one of the many time trackers available today. They include apps and platforms like Upwork, Toggle, Clockify and Hubstaff. What you use depends on your needs. With some, you have to sign up and hire the person on the website, while others are simple apps your workers can sign up for and use anytime.

3. Be Realistic and Clear in Your Expectations

Understand that working remotely may be new to some, or most of your team, too. Like you, they have spouses, children, pets and lots more to deal with when working from home. So, be realistic in your expectations for their workday. Clearly outline the tasks they need to do and explain why they are necessary.

Create small goals and define the desired outcomes to measure team success. By clearly outlining deadlines, scopes and deliverables for each, your team will be better able to concentrate their efforts. Remember to be as flexible as possible during times of uncertainty.

4. Take Advantage of Internet Technology

Working from home requires some preparation. When a team of workers suddenly becomes solely remote, they may need technology such as software programs, laptops, mobile devices, extra internet security protection, and even a better internet connection. Work with each team member to ensure they have whatever they need to complete their assignments the best you can.

5. Document and Plan Ahead for the Next Time

You probably have realized you were not properly prepared for this unexpected scenario, but you can for the next one. Start by documenting everything that’s going on right now. Create a plan that includes the necessary tools and processes for remotely working. Think about things like meetings, communications and travel, for instance.
Look into obtaining insurance coverage for trip cancellations and business closures. Think about finance options when sales plummet or deliveries slow down. Plan for when your supply chain experiences disruptions. Consider every unexpected situation you can think of and then create a plan A and B for each one of them

In Conclusion

It’s a fact that unexpected events will happen, whether they are natural or manmade. But you can keep things moving along, no matter what happens by having the best communications tools and techniques in place. By being ready, both you and your suddenly remote team will be able to handle the situation far better, and with less stress, too. That means higher productivity rates and less disruption to daily activities and achieving your end goals, as well.

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