How to manage and lead a remote team to drive positivity and efficiency.

The pandemic has posed multiple challenges for businesses on a financial and operational level. With many people required to work from home, one of the biggest hurdles for leaders to overcome has been that of remotely managing and leading a team. Jon Lanceley, MD at Edge Networks, shares some of the steps he is taking to maintain the strength of his team whilst allowing the business to operate efficiently and deliver excellence.

Manage people individually
Every team has a range of characters and personalities who will adjust to remote working in different ways. Addressing these needs on an individual basis has been important in our business. We have some members of the team who handle working alone relatively well and remain engaged.  Then there are those who thrive better in a team environment and get their energy from working with people. It is important to consider everyone separately – understand their needs and concerns, strengths and weaknesses – and respond accordingly.

It is also important to understand that everyone has different situations at home, for example children to home school or partners who are keyworkers. These factors need taking into consideration to manage expectations. In our business we have client service level agreements to adhere to. The service we continue to provide hasn’t changed but the way we coordinate the team to manage everyone’s personal situation has had to. I’ve taken the approach of focusing on the outcome not the activity – recognising that we have to adapt the way in which we deliver the end result without any compromises for clients or staff.

Be visible and communicate
In this new remote world of working, it is more important than ever to communicate with employees. The biggest mistake would be to become invisible to the team. An invisible leader cannot “lead”. They must communicate openly otherwise they risk leaving people without a sense of direction. It’s about driving understanding and positivity into the business; continuing to operate collectively even when we’re based apart.

Prior to the pandemic, we would have a face-to-face team meeting every week. That hasn’t changed but now we hold that meeting via videoconference. Everyone has the same opportunity to communicate as they did before. The feedback on this has been positive – nobody feels like they’re out there on their own.

In addition to our team meetings, I regularly touch base with staff on an individual basis. This can be simply to check-in on them, not just to discuss work matters. Some of our team live alone and I’m conscious that they may need interaction with another person throughout the day.

Equip employees
At the first lockdown, we were very proactive in creating and implementing procedures to ensure business continuity, both for ourselves and our clients. Part of this involved making sure the team were equipped with all the tools they needed to work as efficiently as possible from home. We made sure everyone had access to a high-performing technology like they would in the office. We also utilise collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams to share data securely and communicate.

Invest in driving team performance
Any business leader would probably agree that their biggest worries are people issues. Hopefully, they would also agree that their company’s biggest asset it its people. This is most definitely the case at Edge and why I think it’s so important to put investment into a team if you want to get the best output.

We’re using some external support to help with this and have recently partnered with a training and education company called MOM Consultancy. An area of their expertise is in remote working and managing the leadership, teamwork and mental health aspects that come with it. Next month the whole team will embark on a Remote Working Performance course programme. It’s a scenario-based course that will focus on problem-solving, negotiation, communication, leadership styles, teamwork, empathy, emotional intelligence and change related to organisational culture and personal preference. I feel this is especially timely right now and will help drive our team forward in what is a very challenging time. No doubt it will put us through our paces and act as an eyeopener! But we are all committed to improving our performance and are really looking forward it. We will share our experiences and learnings as we move along the journey.