As we all try and adjust to our new normal, read on to learn how we recommend managing teams remotely and avoiding distractions.

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How to Manage a Team Remotely

You have a great team of people under your managerial eye. They’re dedicated, talented and hard-working—and in a completely different building. Or state. Welcome to the new normal in the age of coronavirus, where managing remote employees is a skill you’ll rapidly need to learn.

The following strategies can help you create an in-person connection from anywhere.

Talk about communication

Prior to the global pandemic, “if your employees are mostly autonomous and don’t need a lot of contact, perhaps everyone agrees on twice-monthly video conferences,” says Nancy Colasurdo, a writer and life coach in Hoboken, New Jersey.

“But maybe there’s one who needs more attention and guidance, so you work out a nice email scenario for times in between. This is where listening and communication skills really come in.”

But now, well, things have changed. Granted, you don’t want to micromanage your team, but too little contact can throw workers off—especially when there’s so much uncertainty coming at them from all sides. Employees may have different preferences with regards to how frequently you check in, so it’s up to you to ask your team what will work for them. Maybe you check in more frequently in the beginning and then switch to weekly team meetings once everyone has developed a rhythm.
Get comfortable with video calls

When you can’t walk down the hall and talk to someone in person, being able to see them regularly is vital—and impossible to do on the phone.

“You should definitely have video conferences,”

says Alexandra Levit, workplace expert and author of Blind Spots: The 10 Business Myths You Can’t Afford to Believe on Your New Path to Success.

“Using a platform like Zoom is a great way for everyone’s face to be on there at the same time.”

Being able to see facial expressions adds invaluable context, so it’s something that should occur as regularly as possible.

Pick up the phone

Ask yourself if the news you’re delivering would be better received in person. If so, do the next best thing and call versus emailing or texting. This is especially true if you’re delivering feedback or discussing a problem, because it’s easy to misconstrue someone’s tone in electronic communication.

“Email can be overly terse, misunderstood and isn’t good with subtleties,”

says Nancy Halpern, an executive coach with KNH Associates in New York City.

“You can’t over-rely on it.”

Pay attention to time zones

Your team isn’t going to appreciate it if you continually make them interact with you at odd hours.

“I’ve noticed that some managers have an incredible lack of sensitivity about time zone differences,”

says Halpern.

Be mindful of what time you’re scheduling meetings—or if you send emails at odd hours, make it clear that you don’t expect them to respond until their day begins.

“If you have someone working in Asia, you really can’t call a meeting for 3:00 in the afternoon,”

Halpern says.

“There has to be flexibility on your side.”

Use the technology available to you

With social distancing on everyone’s mind, instant messenger–type platforms like Slack and Skype allow the kind of quick communication between team members that you’d have in an office. This kind of technology make it very easy to reach out to your workers.

“It’s the technology replacement for spinning around and talking to someone,”

Wood says.

“There are those on-the-fly questions that come up. You want workers to feel like they can just ping you with those.”

So whether it’s Skype, Slack, Zoom, or Google Chat, find the in-person replacement that works best for you and your team to help manage communication, improve productivity, and keep the camaraderie strong. Be as available as your schedule allows.

Reassure them

Managing remote employees is made even more difficult when the anxiety levels are high. A quick IM to say, “How’s it going?” and “You’re doing a great job!” can do wonders to help ease the stress. Want more helpful insights? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you can get advice for navigating the trickier demands of management delivered right to your inbox. We’re all in this together.

work from home

Working From Home Tips For the Easily Distracted

On the upside, your commute becomes a matter of steps, not miles, and you might get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep before starting the workday. But working remotely is not without troubles, especially if you’re already prone to not-so-great work habits. Temptation and distraction lurk at every turn.

Find a productive place

Even if you live in a studio apartment, you can create a space in your home that will be dedicated to work for the day. If you don’t have a proper desk, use your kitchen table. And, even though it worked for Winston Churchill, avoid working from your bed unless you’re under the weather. It’s tough to be professional and productive when you’re propped up by pillows.

Remember you’re still (sort of) at work

If you’re working from home, your boss isn’t likely to be looking over your shoulder. You may, then, feel the urge to do more Amazon shopping or Instagram scrolling or panic-reading of the latest news reports than you normally might at the office. Don’t. If you’re too easily distracted, grab your cell phone and set the timer reasonable amount of time (10 to 15 minutes) to get your fill and move on. The same goes for staring at the shelves of your refrigerator. Decide what you’ll have for breakfast, lunch, and snacks early in the day so you don’t waste work time wondering what you’ll eat.

Make a to-do list to get things done

All the working from home tips in the world won’t do you any good if you don’t adhere to them. You know how school kids who are suddenly remote-learning are making adorable handwritten schedules for themselves? Do the same.

To stay on track during the day, create a work-related to-do list at the start of your day and keep it at your side. Having a list of tasks at the ready will help you remain focused and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks. It also helps you maintain semi-regular hours, rather than accidentally working into the evening.

Do not disturb

If you live with roommates or family members, let them know that you need a reasonable amount of peace and quiet when working remotely. Ask not to be disturbed during certain hours or only for very important matters, and define what those matters are. If you have particularly rambunctious pets, consider taking the dog for an extra-long morning walk—now that you’re not commuting—to burn off some of their energy. Depending on your city’s/town’s regulations, you can still keep your regular dog-walker employed while you work from home.

Keep in touch

These are just a few working-from-home tips that can get you through this unprecedented time. Reach out to your co-workers to find out how they’re coping and what’s working for them. Want some more practical info? Join Monster for free today. As a member, you’ll get career advice and job search tips sent directly to your inbox to help keep your professional development humming along during all the uncertainty.

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