3 Key Techniques for Managing a New Remote Team

With many of us suddenly being asked to work from home as the world tries to tackle the spread of Coronavirus, you may find yourself unexpectedly launched into managing a new remote team.

Do you want to support your team, maintain productivity and drive business performance during this challenging time? Well read on, because we’ve outlined three key techniques below for getting the most from your team as they work from home.

1)   Engage with your remote team regularly

Even before social distancing and self-isolation restrictions were put in place, Buffer’s State of Remote Work report in 2019 identified loneliness as a major challenge for remote workers. In fact, prolonged isolation can – in extreme cases – result in problems like anxiety and depression. This can have a huge impact on an employee’s engagement and productivity, not to mention their overall well-being.

Frequent communication is an important tool for tackling this problem. Try to encourage your team to use multiple channels to communicate – and do it on a daily basis. Ensure you arrange the appropriate number of weekly formal “report-ins”, but remember to make time for small talk and quality 1-1s too.

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Try to use gifs to convey emotion – congrats!

Ideally, you want to create an atmosphere of engagement and genuine connection. Try to use video conferencing instead of pure audio calls where possible to enhance this. If using a chat feature, use animated gifs and emojis to convey emotion. These forms of communication may be out of your normal comfort zone, but given that so much of communication is non-verbal, using these methods can significantly reduce the risk of hurt feelings.

2)   Make the most of the tools available

If you’ve been thrown in the deep end with remote working, you and your team may not have that perfect home office you always dreamed of. In fact, many of your team members right this moment might be squashed in a spare room, stuck on their sofa, or worst-case scenario working from a laptop on their bed! Encourage your team to experiment with their workspace, making the best of the space they have and ensuring they can work comfortably for several hours at a time.

The same rule goes for online tools. Maximise your team’s performance by using some of the amazing collaboration tools now available. Common choices include Office 365/Teams, Zoom and Slack. Use video calls to discuss ideas and provide updates with small or large groups. Share your screen to demonstrate a point or explain a workflow. You can even allow others to take control of your screen for true collaborative working. Online whiteboards are the perfect tool for ideation and brainstorming, so there’s no need to stop the flow of creativity during this time. And lastly remember to create areas dedicated for celebrating milestones and recognising both team and individual successes.

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Share screens to collaborate in a video call


3)   Show trust by focusing on outcomes, not activity

Nobody likes to have their manager breathing down their neck. This is true no matter the work arrangement, but especially important when you can’t see the reaction of the other person.

To get the most from your team, don’t worry as much about what is being done. Instead, concentrate on what is being achieved. Help your team understand exactly how you will measure success by clearly defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project. Set expectations about what doing something “quickly” or “well” means, and provide clarity by showing examples, creating project flows and communicating regularly.

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Remember to support and trust your remote team

DO NOT track their activity and log on times or get frustrated if they don’t respond to a message straight away. When your team to manages their own time, it allows them to maximise their personal energy levels and productivity, leading to both higher output and motivation. This takes a large amount of trust in your team, so remember a good remote manager gives their trust freely and acts as a role model for the rest of the team – if you don’t trust your team, you have to ask why you hired them in the first place.


How do I develop my skills as a remote manager?

You are not alone. Many managers are looking to develop their skills so they can adapt to the current challenging circumstances.

To learn more and improve your approach, take a look at our Managing Teams Remotely virtual classroom training.

An investment in your skillset as a remote manager now could be the difference between success and failure as a remote team in the coming months.

COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update: Virtual/Remote Training = Business as Usual

(Last updated: Tuesday 17th March 2020)

It’s widely understood by our corporate customers that the COVID-19 disruption will last the year and a pragmatic “business as usual” approach is necessary.

Following the global outbreak of COVID-19 in China, STL is continuing to monitor the latest UK public health advice and World Health Organisation (“WHO”) guidelines.

We are more committed than ever to ensuring that all our scheduled events run without disruption (our public schedule courses are never cancelled). You can see live status updates for our courses here.

We strongly urge any booked customers for our public courses to refer to the guidelines and protocols as suggested by the WHO www.who.int and local /national public health authorities to contain and mitigate against any further spread of the virus.

If you have any concerns and are feeling unwell, you may wish to reconsider your attendance of your course. We will continue to operate the most flexible and competitive rescheduling terms in our market.

As a precaution, we are implementing a range of additional hygiene measures at all of our delivery venues.

Please be assured, we are monitoring the situation very closely and will update our response as the situation develops.  If you have any specific questions on a training event, please contact us.



What measures are you taking during the COVID-19 pandemic, and what should I be aware of when attending a course?

As mentioned above we are running all our pubic scheduled events – You can see live status updates here.

We are in frequent contact with all our staff including our trainers to confirm they don’t have a new, continuous cough or high temperature/fever. We are acting in accordance with Public Health England’s advice to minimise the spread of COVID-19 within our training venues.

We are maintaining high standards of cleanliness across our venues with our professional cleaning partners and in addition we have anti-bacterial products available should you also wish to clean your training area to your own personal standards during your visit.

Virtual learning solutions – we are currently investigating viability of offering virtual delivery formats (onsite/closed company) of several of our training courses. Please note any potential alternative delivery solution will never totally match the “Rolls Royce” experience of instructor led classroom training, but we’ll do our best.

I’m booked to attend a public scheduled course, will it still run?

Yes, we don’t cancel courses and we invest course fees to ensure all courses run during the ongoing disruption. You can see live status updates here.

I’m booked to attend but need to reschedule, what’s the quickest way to do this?

Unique to our industry you can reschedule and pay online, up to 4pm on the very day of the course. It’s common in our industry to lose any rescheduling options if you provide 7 or less days notice.

Can you refund my public schedule training course so I can cancel or reschedule to another date?

Yes! If you provide 17 + days notice, you can cancel or reschedule your course (as many times as you wish within our terms) at no additional cost. With less than 17 days notice, costs will be applied, see full terms  here.

I’m unable to attend my course as I have: COVID-19/ continuous cough or high temperature/fever / have   been asked to self-isolate. What are my options?

Firstly we wish you a speedy recovery! Our reschedule terms do still apply (we have committed and invested to run the course for all attendees, we can’t let them down), however an additional 10% reduction to reschedule fees will be available (this can be applied for card over phone or invoice payments only).

We are looking to book some onsite/closed group training but are mindful of our plans being disrupted by COVID-19.

Most businesses we are in contact with appreciate that COVID-19 related disruption could last the year. It means adjusting to this new reality with a pragmatic business as usual approach.

Based on our current interpretation of UK COVID-19 infection impacts as communicated by UK Government and WHO:

  • It is estimated that 20% of workers will be off sick at any one time during outbreak
  • For the vast majority of people with COVID-19 the symptoms will be similar to seasonal flu
  • It is likely the peak of infection in UK population will be in April to June, rising rapidly, plateauing before dropping off.

Guidelines and considerations:

  • Book your training as planned, bear in mind you are free to reschedule with 21 + days notice, so you can review monthly your situation and decide to run the training or reschedule during the period of disruption.
  • If you wish to delay booking your training and wait until disruption reduces, just note that demand will accelerate rapidly and priority will be given to customers who have booked. You may well end up waiting a considerable period to have your training delivered.
  • Considering 20% of staff may be off, its best to plan for substitutes who can attend the training event. For example you have 10 people attending a course, have 2 people on standby.