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How are we managing?

Katie Burke

Written for VentureWeb by Katie Burke

At VentureWeb we coordinate staffing placements in nearly every continent (someday, Antarctica…)

Right now, some of the businesses we work with are struggling with the abrupt change to working from home brought on by COVID-19. But after more than 25 years in the biz, we’ve learned that as complex as things can get, there are a few evergreen rules of thumb when it comes to successfully directing from a distance.

In the hopes of sharing real, practical advice that will make things better – here are our top 5 tips for managing remotely:

  1. Communicate like your job depends on it
    If there is one golden rule we’ve learned from engaging with people around the world, it’s that you simply can’t take for granted that your communication style is good enough as is. Every time you ping, call, email anyone – remind yourself to be friendly, and be exact. Work just goes better with a good relationship established, and you are guaranteed to save on wasted time if you anticipate questions and provide that information or helpful context up front. It’s painful watching smart and capable people suffer because of poor direction. Make sure you’re being clear on your ask – will everyone understand who is doing what, when, how and why?
  2. Join with video (seriously, just do it.)
    Adjust your work culture if needed, and prep team members to expect video when you connect. I know this isn’t everyone’s comfort zone, but misunderstandings go way down with a strong relationship in place, and I can vouch for it as by far the fastest way to establish that from afar. With great background effects offered by Teams and Zoom, there’s no need to worry about whether your workspace looks professional. Meeting face to face digitally is easier than ever, and it pays off.
  3. Keep talking
    Check in frequently with your remote team members and collaborators. There’s no need to fill your calendar with aimless meetings; just make sure you’re staying in touch with each person whose work you oversee and actively keeping the door open for others to reciprocate. When interactions get limited to structured meetings, colleagues will be less likely to pipe up to talk about a minor challenge they’re facing or great idea they might be sitting on. Feeling disconnected is also a huge motivation killer, and can be really hard (but not impossible!) to come back from.
  4. Be an active coach
    It can be so hard to tell someone when a finished product was a little disappointing, or an attitude or approach is just not sitting right. But rip the band-aid off. Giving and receiving feedback gets exponentially easier the more it’s done in real time, and the less things are left to mount into a bigger issue. People want to know how they’re doing, and can really struggle to know if they’re hitting the mark. Don’t let someone’s potential be wasted by underestimating their ability to learn. If something could have been handled differently, support them by providing that coaching and redirection without delay – you could add years to a professional relationship that just gets more rewarding over time.
  5. Pick your platform
    Last but not least – whether it’s Teams, Slack, Skype, Zoom, etc. take the time to consult and test collaboratively, and select one home base that does what you need. This one logistical act will instantly make you more professional and gelled as a team. Most critically for a remote team, you’ll start keeping all your conversation history, scheduling info and file sharing in one place. It might seem obvious, but this one made the Top 5 list for a reason! Get organized, feel smart 😊

If you’re a manager or business owner suddenly faced with remote working and are struggling, reach out to staffing.management@ventureweb.com for a free consult. We’d like to help.
Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels

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