Five tips to successfully manage your newly-virtual or split team

Kylie Garrick is the Director of Allied Health at Metro North Mental Health and knows a thing or two about building a dream team. 

Many of us are adjusting to working from home arrangements or juggling a split team environment as the world responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For managers, this transition can be difficult – how do you lead a team virtually without eroding boundaries between work and home lives?

With restrictions easing and teams set to further split, with some employees in the office and others still working remotely, here’s some tips to keep in mind when managing in this unique environment:

  1. Make yourself aware of each individual and their situation: Understand the environment your team are working in at their home. Are they caring for children who are now home from school? Are they stressed about vulnerable family members they’re now separated from, or even in the vulnerable category themselves? Take into consideration what their circumstances are and discuss flexible working hours or tasks to suit their environment – your flexibility is key to their productivity.
  2. Managing virtual teamsClarify tasks and processes: Some of your routine processes may change now you’re in a virtual or half-half environment. This is to be expected, but it’s important to ask yourself how you can change or even enhance your systems to ensure the team is still delivering and meeting goals and to keep everyone in the loop about what is expected. Look at what can be streamlined permanently, and what needs an interim solution to make things work during this time.
  3. Make an extra effort to communicate: Staff working from home miss out on the benefits of chats by the photocopier and walks to the local coffee cart. Some staff may feel disconnected by the work-from-home environment. To keep everyone’s engagement high, set-up a ‘meeting’ for morning tea to check in on each other personally, not to check up on their progress. Make it a comfortable environment – try adding a fun challenge such as asking the team to wear their favourite band tee or go the extra mile and deliver the morning tea for your team to enjoy while you connect.
  4. Resource your team: If your team is working from home, make sure they have all the equipment and software they need to keep doing their job. It’s important to ask what they need and try your best to facilitate that. Further, if you are noticing gaps in capacity due to increased workloads during this time – look at freelancers or short-term contracts to keep your team happy and healthy without feeling overworked. On the flipside, don’t leave your team twiddling their thumbs either. There is always more work that can do be done, and as the manager, it’s your job to identify where someone might need a new challenge or project to keep them going in the current climate.
  5. Ask for feedback: It’s unreasonable to assume transitioning to working from home, and back to the office again for some, will be without its teething issues. Ask your team directly about what is working for them and what needs improvement. Everyone’s situation will be different, but as a great manager, you should find out what works for your team members and adjust your approach to suit.

You can still maintain a social, productive and trusting team environment when working from home. Taking the time to understand your team members individual needs, however, is key to making it work.

What you have done to keep motivated and connected at home?