5 tips for leading remote teams

As so many businesses in the UK are now offering their employees remote and home working options, I thought this would be a great opportunity to share some practical advice for leading remote teams and protecting productivity.

For those of you who haven’t met me yet, I’m TSG’s Head of Product Development (IP). Over the last 6 years, I have led remote teams around the globe, as well as colleagues who work from home. My entire team at TSG is remote, so I don’t see them in person often.

If you’ve always managed a team based in the same location as you, moving from an office-based team to having some or all of your team working remotely can be a significant transition. At TSG, 40% of our workforce is home-based as standard, and we primarily keep in touch using Microsoft Teams.

Here are my 5 top tips for leading remote teams!

Keep in touch regularly

This sounds kind of obvious, right? It’s easy to forget, though, and it’s so important.

Make sure you contact your team every day, whether you have a stand-up-type call at the start of the day or more informal chats through the day. If we go an entire day without seeing or talking to our team, we can begin to feel disconnected and isolated. In some places I’ve worked, we’d have ‘watercooler’ calls – video conferences we’d join with our cuppas and chat for 15 mins about anything and everything. At TSG, we use Teams channels to share non-work related topics that interest us.

Turn your video on!

And encourage your team to do the same. This might not work for everyone all of the time, but as you’re likely looking at your workforce operating remotely for a significant period of time, this helps you mimic face-to-face meetings. It’s easier to read colleagues’ reactions and convey your sentiment if you’re able to see each other. If you’re worried about the messy bookshelf/sofa/room behind you, use the magic background blur button on Teams so that your colleagues will only see you.

Pick up the phone

If you have an important question or need to delegate something urgent to a member of your team, call your colleague rather than emailing or instant messaging. If they’re busy and you need to get on, set a pop-up reminder to tell you when they are back online or are available – this is standard functionality within Microsoft Teams.

That’s not to say instant messaging doesn’t have a place; messaging your team throughout the day with less critical items or if you’re unable to make a call is another essential way to ensure you’re regularly touching base with your team.

Be focused and available

Even remotely, it’s noticeable to your team when you’re not focused or if you’re distracted. Even if you think you look available and online, your colleagues will be able to tell if you’re not as focused or productive as usual. That said, we’re all more productive when we take regular breaks and this is even more important when working from home. If you’re taking a break, let your team know by setting a message in your status to let them know when you’ll be back online.

Make sure your team members have everything they need

At TSG, we use Microsoft Teams for conference calls, instant messaging, collaborating and sharing documents, as well as using Microsoft Planner for organising and managing our productivity.  Whatever solution you choose to use, make sure your team is familiar with using it and that your people have everything they need to access your business solutions from home. This could come in the form of cloud-based solutions like Office 365 and Microsoft Teams, or using a VPN to access your on-premise business-critical systems.

Need help with your remote working model?

With over 40% of our people working from home full-time – currently that number is closer to 100%! – we know a thing or two about setting up a remote working model that works for everyone. If you need support in setting up a successful remote working model, get in touch with our experts today.