2020 will be remembered as a year of shifting work habits in different domains. Due to COVID-19, working remotely is becoming the new norm across the globe.

As a part of this new reality, Harvard Business Review identifies 4 types of challenges that are faced by managers and team leaders: (1) Reduction of physical interaction and the capacity to make sure that workers are performing well enough. Some workers struggle with the limitation of communication between teams and access to their leaders; (2) Frustration (for employees at home) when trying to locate information from other team members. Information silos can create gaps in knowledge, degrade trust, and leave team members unable to do their jobs properly; (3) Physical isolation – going to the office is a moment of human contact which is not possible with remote work; (4) Distraction and difficulty to separate professional life from home life, especially when there are children or other dependent people to care.

At REDSCOPE, we also observed how pandemics has led to massive amounts of stress, lack of motivation, disengagement, exhaustion, and many types of physical and mental complaints. We have therefore developed below some dos and donts to help you transition in today’s always-changing reality. To effectively work with remote teams, you will need:

1.Clear Ground Rules for Communication: Just as you may be able to block time in the office to be available for your colleagues, it is essential to set rules of engagement for remote work. Let your colleagues and employees know when (and how) they can reach you throughout the day for personal as well as professional matters. It’s also important to extensively supervise intra-team communication to make sure that information is being suitably shared among your team. At least, for the purpose of improving the lack of availability, organize quick, but regular check-ins, such as quick one-on-one or group video calls.

2.Process-ize Business Matters: Define processes as well as differences that remote work entails. Establish any break downs in communications or where information is potentially being lost between people, teams, departments. Set up updated processes for anything related to teamwork and communication within the online context. In particular, define your communication architecture – explore various ways to replace face-to-face interaction. Over-communicate and repeat what’s important. Set processes for exchanging feedback, after all, it doesn’t come as easily as it did in the office. Whether it’s a video call, instant messaging platform or good-old-fashioned email, it’s key to make sure all channels of communication are utilized.

3.Create Opportunities for Informal Interactions: An abrupt change from seeing your colleagues on a daily basis to being cut off from them for extended periods of time can be difficult. Make sure that your colleagues aren’t just focussing on work by organizing time for (virtual) social gatherings. Again, explore your options – you can have a group video call where you play games or host quizzes, or have virtual dinners and drinks. Build subject matter social communities and use apps like Donut to set up random coffee calls.

4.Build, Enhance, Demonstrate Trust: Effective and resilient teams are based on trust. If trust is missing, managers try to micromanage and employees try to prove themselves by overworking. So, instead of asking yourself how do you know your team is working well enough, focus on building trust by being very clear about what you want to be achieved, about individual responsibilities and the type of updates you request. It is crucial to lead with empathy and transparency to get the best output. Resist micro-managing!

5.Be Attentive to Team’s Emotional Wellbeing: Working from home, especially with colleagues who are not used to it, can be emotionally demanding. Coupled with uncertainty regarding the state of the world, some of your employees may be feeling anxious, and even depressed. Be there for your team members by offering them an opportunity to talk about their emotions and be there to listen, by you or by a professional who can support them.

If you need assistance or support in developing a work culture and management styles that work in today’s new normal, do not hesitate to contact us.