Managing a Remote IT Department: Tips & Tricks

In the recent pandemic situation, working from the office has been restricted to as many employees as possible, thus the only viable option would be to work from home, and this inevitably comes with its challenges.Do you have what it takes to start managing remote employees? Read further to find out! The Problem: According to […]

by Martin Tsenov

July 6, 2021

5 min read

pexels olya kobruseva 5428833 scaled 1 - Managing a Remote IT Department: Tips & Tricks

In the recent pandemic situation, working from the office has been restricted to as many employees as possible, thus the only viable option would be to work from home, and this inevitably comes with its challenges.
Do you have what it takes to start managing remote employees? Read further to find out!

The Problem:

According to a study conducted right after the first lockdown, most of the employees have increased their productivity but at what cost? Many started mixing work with other home activities and either cannot stop working, resulting in overtime, while others cannot fully concentrate and work productively. Productivity, in general, is not the only major change. The lack of physical contact with other colleagues and communication, in general, resulted for many in loneliness, anxiety and even depression.

One popular concern of basically every company is to ensure business continuity even when the workplace has changed. However, even though there are plannings that focus on the necessary operational responses, they often forget to address the importance of the human ability to focus on a concrete plan regardless of their emotional state. 

As a defence mechanism, humans resort to completely focusing on one sphere and ignoring their mental state. Their mentality is what’s at stake in this scenario. This is why it is essential to always keep in mind that every person’s work is often deeply affected first and foremost by their mentality rather than their technical abilities.

The Way Out:

The guidance for removing or at least limiting this “emotional roller coaster” hasn’t changed for a while, and it has become even more crucial to follow it during such times of crisis.

1. Communication

The first and most important tip: Communicate with each other regularly. Communication itself is a great way to see how a person feels just by the way he talks. Although most of the calls or meetings are regarding work, there should also be small talks, in which you are no longer “a boss and an employee” but more of teammates who can also bond on a personal level. This can catch distress at its early developing stage and usually, such problems arise because they were not addressed at the time or the person doesn’t realise the negative impact they have on the team and how impactful his influence on them actually is and just ignore the specific problems.

2. Involving One Another

Although you might live in different zones and a compromise must be made either from one or both sides, involving one another in different activities like chatting, group meetings (the more people, the better), games even – literally anything that combines a group of people, works. Many people feel left out and having such “active” moments would definitely have a huge impact on them.

Another example would be this case: imagine you have a meeting with someone important, who would tell you something that you later have to share with an employee of yours. Instead of being one on one, set up a meeting and include the other employee too. This way, you would not only show that you trust the specific person, but it would also boost their confidence and make them feel like “they matter” in this company, as they’re not just a tool that gets the work done but rather a valuable part of the team.

3. Ready? Set? Action!

Video meetings. When people started working from home, most of them became rather lazy regarding hygiene or clothing. You have an early meeting and just woke up? It’s pyjama time. And this ” pyjama time” makes the person not turn on their camera as they would feel ashamed or unprofessional or whatever reason. But a study suggested that people that have conducted meetings with cameras have much higher self-esteem and are generally more connected to each other. Not only this, but it also gets a little closer to the “back to the office” vibe, which is what’s important for the mental state.

4. One-on-One Meetings

As the former CEO & Co-founder of Intel Andy Grove said: “90 minutes of your time can enhance the quality of your subordinate’s work for 2 weeks, or for some 80+ hours.”

The idea is simple – use those “one-on-ones” to talk openly and cover different topics with your employee, which will build trust between you two and boost the employee’s overall performance as he or she will feel more comfortable in the company. Moreover, you will encourage friendlier communication within your organisation.

5. Recognition and Feedback

Everyone loves receiving compliments, bonuses and gifts. But that’s not what it is about here. Recognising someone’s hard effort into something and giving them feedback is essential. Usually, a company is driven by its employees, and when they’re seen as just vessels that just finish tasks, they would often realise it and just leave, as the “appreciation factor” is absent.

A recent study shows that companies who focus on the outcome rather than the process benefit way more than the opposite option. That’s mainly because if you focus on the end goal and have a path towards it, it often includes employee recognition – their work is being admired, which results in better performance and so on. That’s why just a simple “Good job” or “you could read something about …” could have a great impact on someone’s career and why not life in general, as well.

6. More “Offline” Еvents

The pandemic has made stringent restrictions regarding events, which are slowly being either removed or refactored to include more freedom of choice. But that doesn’t mean that it is impossible to organise such events even under special circumstances. Having different events at different places is nothing more than team-building, in which work-life gets colorful, which is why it’s crucial for such team-buildings to be held. The event is “something different” and includes many people, making the grey work-day exciting. Just by having more and more events, you will spark the curiosity of many employees about “what comes next”, which makes the magic work.

In a nutshell:

Although managing people remotely could be a serious challenge, it would definitely be less of an issue when the organisation is done correctly. Working remotely removes the social aspect of teamwork at the same place, and many people just forget they are working and have difficulties maintaining their work-life balance or don’t use their full creative potential at home. This is the reason why such tips as nurturing an environment in which employees still feel special and appreciated with various events are most likely to result in boosting the team spirit and make the transition back to the office smoother. In addition, talking and communicating with cameras to show respect and appreciation for each and every person in a meeting is also a keynote. And that is what makes an ordinary team the “#dreamteam”.

Middle Software Engineer at Dreamix