Leading people and working remotely may initially seem straightforward, but it actually requires a shift in mindset.

    It means working in a disciplined way, and making a conscious effort to maintain connections and productivity.

    In light of everything that’s happening, and the shift to more and more of us working from home, we wanted to share some tips on what’s worked for us, from both a leadership and team perspective.

    We’ve also included some suggestions for getting you and your team set up to work remotely, and some links to useful resources to help you get started.

    First, let’s look at ways to lead, stay connected and maintain engagement while working on a remote basis.

    Leading remotely

    There will be a learning curve if you’re less familiar with working remotely, but studies show that productivity can go up when working from home. Here’s how you can increase the chances of that:

    1) Trust

    This lies at the centre of remote working. Start with always ‘assuming good intent’. When you do this with each other, it pays back in dividends.

    2) Collaboration

    Do this early on and agree some ground rules together for working remotely.

    A daily catch-up with your team could work well, particularly in the early days.

    If you don’t use one already, it’s worth setting up a system like Slack for the team to use to collaborate and share ideas.

    We use Cisco Webex for video meetings and to host conference calls, which we find works well.

    It’s also worth considering using technology to facilitate virtual team meetings and catch-ups.

    3) Maintain connection

    It’s important to make sure that all the team are connected, and stay connected. You will have to work at this every day.

    Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your team in touch with each other and feeling part of something.

    Try to do all you can not to let isolation and loneliness set in - it can creep up like cold and be very damaging to confidence.

    You may want to think about setting up a remote buddy system from the start, so the team are looking out for each other too.

    4) Performance expectations

    Understand what’s possible and be clear about your expectations during this period; being output focused is likely to be more beneficial than being process focused.

    The work output may need to be adapted. What might your team need to stop, start, continue because of this new business environment? What new opportunities could there be?

    Think creatively when approaching these questions, and innovate.

    5) Be available

    Different people need different support.

    Some may self-manage and adapt to remote working more easily than others. It may not always be obvious to them (or you) when things go amiss.

    If they start to react differently be mindful to this. Also, don’t forget yourself in this process and that you might need support too.

    There’s a free guide here from online project and task management tool Trello which has more tips on how to embrace remote working

    Working remotely as a team

    1) Get set up fast

    The quicker you can do this, the better. Encourage your team to identify a dedicated work area that is as free from distraction as possible.

    When working from home, whether as a leader or team member, it’s worth paying close attention to your seating and posture. Better still, set up a standing desk if you can.

    Make sure you and your people have right equipment, and again, check that you have the necessary communication apps working such as Slack and Webex.

    2) Setting boundaries

    This is important both for you and your people, and their family or housemates.

    We all need to schedule breaks, take lunch and move away from our screens regularly. Set ground rules with others so they know your routine and when you can be interrupted.

    3) Maintaining motivation

    You should try to build a routine as if working in an office, and make the most of that saved commute time.

    Purpose, play and passion all have a role to play in motivation - how are you nourishing each of these areas for yourself? Where do you need support?

    Keeping focus and motivation when working alone at home takes energy and effort.

    4) Keep a business focus

    Ask yourself whether your normal workload can continue.

    There are more distractions at home and in these times you may also need to work around others, for example, if schools are closed.

    Plan for this where possible and check in regularly with your team to keep communication flowing. Stay close to your clients too - they are likely to be experiencing the same as you right now.

    5) Be connected

    Try to be in contact with colleagues regularly, and with the camera on.

    This forces you to get out of your PJs, which is important. There are many conversations in an office that aren’t planned and great things come of them.

    Create those moments by instigating regular ‘just because’ calls or virtual coffee moments.

    For more information on adapting to home working and staying focused, have a read of this article from management training firm Mind Tools

    We’ve also put together a host of useful articles and resources for advisers on Human Capital, our website designed to help you in supporting your people. It includes ideas, best practice and policy templates on all people-related aspects of your business, from culture and staff engagement to hiring and performance. You can check it out here

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