Have you found yourself leading a remote team and not sure where to start? A lot has changed in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and if you’re like us, you’re probably scrambling to figure out how to best serve your community, volunteers, and employees. You may also be managing a team that’s working from home for the first time or trying to stay productive when you and the kids are cooped up all day. 

We can help! Our CEO, Chad Williams, has been leading our team remotely since 2004, at the same time raising  seven children. Needless to say, he has had many years of experience that he can share with newly remote teams like yours. If you missed our latest webinar, check it out here: Working Remote Without Losing Your Mind. We’ve summarized some of the key highlights from the webinar below. Let’s jump right in!

Mindset Matters

Working from home makes it easy to feel like you’re losing efficiency or communication with your coworkers.  There are five mindset rules to keep when working from home. 

  1. In a remote office environment, relationships are just as important as being productive. . Make sure your team is interacting beyond just sharing when something goes wrong. Take time out of your day to check in on coworkers and catch up about more than the projects at hand.
  2. Assume the best about the people on your team.
  3. Be proactive in your interactions. If you see someone deserving of praise, don’t wait; tell them they’re doing a wonderful job! Likewise, if you have questions, ask. 
  4. Don’t be afraid to over communicate. Working remote makes it much more difficult to get your point across than in face-to-face interactions. Chad likes to say, “clarity is kindness.
  5. And of course, keep a positive attitude! Especially when it comes to tackling the challenges that your organization is facing in these difficult times.

Work Effectively

Here are some simple tips to work effectively in a new remote space. They may seem like no-brainers, but if you try them out we promise they will make a world of difference.

Rule #1: Start your day like normal.

This means wake up early, shower, get dressed, and have some breakfast. Stick to the same routine you had when you worked in the office. This will keep you motivated and alert for work like usual. Wearing pajamas with dirty hair has never made anyone feel ready to tackle a day’s work.

Rule #2: Change scenery throughout the day.

This tip is especially helpful if you and your spouse are both home and you can’t work in the same room. By consistently rotating which room you work in, you can keep your mind refreshed. If it’s nice out, try sitting outside!

Rule #3: Be sure to take breaks.

Staring at a computer screen alone all day is very different than working in the office. So every few hours, take fifteen minutes to walk around, stretch, drink some water, and play with the kids.

Rule #4: Avoid time wasters.

Sometimes it’s easy to start working in the morning and get stuck checking your email, scrolling through Twitter, or texting friends/coworkers. Before you know it, an hour has gone by! Instead, try to make a list at the end of each work day what your priorities are for tomorrow. That way, when you start the day you have clear priorities to get done instead of wasting time.

Leading Effectively

If you’ve found yourself managing a remote team for the first time, Chad recommends a consistent rhythm, whether daily or weekly, to keep your team on track. Our team does this through three types of video meetings.

Daily Standup: This meeting is possibly the most important tool for keeping your team focused in a remote environment. Every morning, each team meets for no longer than 15 minutes to update each other on our work for the day. We answer three questions: 

  1. What are my priorities for the day? 
  2. Where am I stuck? 
  3. What are my daily metrics to measure success? 

Keep it short and simple! If the meeting goes longer than fifteen minutes, you’re talking too much.

Weekly One-on-Ones: Each supervisor meets with each direct report  for 30 minutes – weekly or bi-weekly – to catch up, discuss priorities, and see how he can help to better serve the team in any way.

Company-Wide Fridays: Every Friday our whole team meets for an hour to spend time on three topics: learning time, core value shoutouts, and organizational updates. This meeting gives us time to chat, catch up, and see everyone’s face at least once a week. We often watch Ted Talks or read books together for our educational time.

What about the kids?

It’s important to keep yourself sane when working at home, but you may need to get a bit creative for your kids. Here’s some tips from our team and what they do to keep their kids entertained!

  • Start every day like usual. Make breakfast and make sure the kiddos get dressed.
  • Whenever you take breaks, spend some time reading out loud together.
  • Set up an iPad with preset bookmarks to keep them busy.
  • Establish a creative play area, complete with crafts, educational toys or books, and space to run around.

Hopefully this information will help you to better manage your remote team and keep your family motivated during these difficult times. Don’t forget to watch our webinar for more tips from our very own CEO, Chad Williams. Here’s the link. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions!

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