Leading remote teams in the new normal

The new normal.  We all know that we’re going to have to get used to it, as life is never going to be quite the same. If you’re a leader who’s always prided yourself on being ‘hands-on’  and ‘walking the talk’, you may feel a bit at a loss as to how you continue to be effective when your team is working remotely.

Photo by cottonbro


Here are a few pointers to help you keep morale high and boost productivity.


Remote meeting etiquette

Now that you don’t get the chance to meet your team face-to-face or cross paths in the office, the onus is on you to maintain clear and regular communication.

Continue with your regular team meetings, virtually, but accept changes to the expected meeting etiquette. For example, be a little more flexible about the timing. For example, if you used to meet your team at the end of the day, consider moving this to an earlier time, to avoid a clash with the kids arriving home from school. 

Ensure each team member participates actively in discussions, and consider rotating the chair, so everyone has a chance to lead. 

Avoid letting your team meetings become too intense by starting with some small talk and an ice-breaker before getting down to business. And when it’s over, don’t leave the call abruptly: stay open in case anyone wants to hang back for a private talk.

When you need to check in with an individual, allow them to choose when and how this happens. 

At the same time, make sure you’re easily contactable in case anyone needs you, by keeping set times in your diary open and clear to anyone who wants to get in touch.  Use video as much as possible, rather than email or voice calls.


Set challenges and rewards

One of the most energising and engaging ways to motivate a remote team is to set regular work-based challenges. These can set short or longer-term targets.  Create small groups for each challenge, then let them come up with their strategy so they’ll aim to overperform.

If you want to create a buzz, throw in something unexpected, such as a fun outdoor scavenger hunt. Set a strict time limit, so that each team member has to completed different parts of the cityhunt– this will maintain social distancing. 


Be clear about goals

It’s doubly important to make clear what you expect from each team member.  Follow up more regularly than you would in the office, to ensure the work is progressing smoothly and to offer support. Maybe someone has taken on too much work. Perhaps they’re finding it hard to stick to the deadline. Don’t wait in silence for work that isn’t anywhere near to being delivered! Remote working requires leaders to be far more proactive, not in chasing employees, but in ensuring that the workload is shared fairly and effectively. Your job is to make sure it can be delivered without creating unnecessary stress.


Be clear, stay connected and remember to be patient; this is the new normal after all.


Mark Munroe is the Creator and EIC of ADDICTED. He's ADDICTED to great travel, amazing food, better grooming & probably a whole lot more!