How to manage remote teams

How to manage your team remotely

 29 Mar 2020

Many firms have been moving towards or even embracing agile working over recent years. Not surprising given the cost and scarcity of corporate space, and surveys like the Modern Families Index 2020 highlighting that companies with a flexible and family friendly approach are more likely to retain employees.

However, the difference between having a workforce that can work remotely for part of the time and a workforce that works remotely all of the time is huge. And the shift for those companies that haven’t yet developed flexible working practices is even greater.

Here are some ideas on how to manage remote working so that it is safe and productive, taking into account the responsibilities that you have as an employer so that we make sure we remain healthy and supported, and that the wheels of commerce keep turning.


The right tools

Having the right tools is absolutely key and these days, the technology is there to make working efficiently and staying connected a breeze. At Buckley Consulting, we have had a flexible working policy for years. Our technology enables us to access the information we need securely and lets us stay connected whether we are in our office, working from home or on the move.

Here are some ideas:

  • Microsoft Teams for instant messaging, file sharing, voice or video calls and on-line meetings.
  • Zoom or Skype for video conferencing and messaging.
  • Box, a cloud-based technology for file storage, collaboration and sharing.
  • A shared mailbox e.g. to provide a common calendar. This will allow multiple users to schedule work shifts and annual leave so you can keep track of who is doing what and when.


Information is key

Given that a large part, if not all of your work force is now likely to be home based, there needs to be clear organisation and structure. This will help to give the whole team focus and ensure each team member feels connected.

It is important to make sure everyone is kept up to date – take a leaf out of the PM’s book – daily briefings can be a good idea. A pyramid briefing structure works well i.e. the core brief is developed by the board/ senior partners etc. and cascaded down through the organisation as appropriate.

Each organisation should decide on the frequency of the briefing – A 5 minute briefing held at the beginning of each day for the purposes of a ‘check-in’ to establish contact and answer any queries that will inevitably arise in this period of uncertainty is probably a good idea, certainly in the early stages.


A typical briefing might consist of:

  • Takes place at a set time via for example Microsoft Teams, with a note taken of any absences (this should be followed up on separately to ensure that the employee is safe and well or being cared for).
  • Talk through the items on the brief.
  • Take questions arising out of the brief.
  • Make a note of any questions that you can’t answer at that time to follow up at the next briefing if possible, or at the earliest opportunity.
  • Set the date for or remind the group of the next briefing.


The benefit of using briefings is several-fold:

  1. It ensures that all members of staff feel connected.
  2. It enables the flow of accurate information both up and down the organisation and helps prevent or minimise the ‘grapevine’.
  3. It is a two-way process, enabling members of your teams to voice any questions or concerns.
  4. It helps to prevent feelings of isolation.


Remote working agreement

The clearer the expectations from the outset, the less chance for confusion or misunderstanding. It will also give your teams confidence that you have a strategy, especially when outside events are constantly shifting.

Depending on the type of work your team is handling, you may set task-based expectations or hours or both.

A mandatory hours’ policy may require staff to be available between 10am and 2pm unless otherwise arranged (eg for medical appointments). That way you know you can arrange phone calls with clients or between colleagues around these hours. Staff are then free to work the additional required hours that suit their home arrangements, especially if they have caring responsibilities.

This is where a shared mailbox is useful. A common calendar can plot your team’s various hours. You can see at a glance who is available when i.e. 8am – 4pm, 10am-6pm etc.


Duty of care

Although your staff members aren’t physically in the office, you still have a responsibility for them. Each person should be risk assessed in case more wrap around care is needed to enable them to work remotely.

Also, if you know that Sam is due to start at 8am and hasn’t logged on to Microsoft Teams by 9am, you as their manager should have a system in place to send out a message or give them a call to ensure that they are ok.

There should be an emergency contact strategy in place for the same reason e.g. a telephone tree.

It is vitally important, especially if we are in this for the long haul, that we all feel connected. Isolation can be debilitating in the extreme. Explore ways in which your teams can socialise remotely e.g. virtual coffee breaks, quizzes (there are lots of ideas on-line to make these interesting), virtual games.

As we have ever stricter curbs on our movements, it is essential that our links with our colleagues provide the opportunity for the social interaction that we no longer have available to us by popping out to the shops or going to the gym.


Looking forward

We have been left with no choice but to completely reassess the way we work. Having cohesive teams which communicate effectively has to be the way forward. The opportunity to test and refine our agile working policies is right in front of us. With a bit of planning, some tech to help us and a large dose of team spirit, we can do our bit to keep the economy rolling as well as future proofing our businesses.

If you would like to chat about anything I’ve mentioned here, or you can share something that has worked well in your organisation, please do get in touch.


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