Managing teams of remote workers successfully

Working with global organisations from Australia gives me the opportunity to meet and work with interesting people from around the world. In 2022, I’ve worked closely with more than 100 people from countries such as Poland, Chile, Singapore, Switzerland and London. And, my Moore Moroney Consulting team members are based in different cities across Queensland.

Working in all time zones and keeping track of what’s going on in their worlds can be very hectic and somewhat exhausting. So, I have a few principles to make sure that this works successfully:

1. Set boundaries, and stick to them

It is very important to set boundaries and stick to them. Especially if you are a remote worker or working across different time zones. There’s nothing good about spending 10-12 hours working on your computer because the emails don’t stop arriving and you’re setting meetings at times to accommodate everyone else.

I have arranged my work schedule so that I can take meetings most days of the week and spend quality time with my family. For example, on Mondays and Thursdays I work from 1:00pm – 11:00pm AEST (Brisbane time zone) so that I can take the kids to school, get most of my work done throughout my afternoon and then have meetings with European-based colleagues from 5:00pm (9:00am their time). And I always have a non-negotiable hour-hour dinner break with my family. To make it easier for others to see when I’m available, I use my calendar to block time that I’m office. For example, I always make sure that I block “out of office” time in my dairy so that I can have dinner with my children.

I encourage my teams to set their own boundaries and push back if something doesn’t suit them. If we’re working with a European stakeholder and we’ve got people from Nashville, USA, logging on at 5am to be online for a workshop that’s also friendly for Singapore-based colleagues I will suggest we come up with a practical, better solution that works for everyone whilst still getting the job done. Sometimes it means running two workshops, but the participants will be more engaged and the meeting will be more effective.

2. Socialise – not all conversations have to be about work

Socialising with team mates is essential to build trust and work efficiently. It can be really hard to do this when everyone in your team is working remotely. There are two things that I do to make it happen:

  1. I prioritise a few minutes of casual chatting and catching up on personal lives during the 15-30 minute weekly one-to-one meetings I have with the team members I manage or work closely with.
  2. I schedule a daily meeting (huddles, stand-ups) for the whole team. We take turns chairing the meeting and we ask each person to start with how they’re feeling that day and then to talk about their workload and priorities.

Both of these things help build trust and open communication so that colleagues feel more comfortable to ask for help and provide support to others who may be struggling. For example, in our daily team meeting I might explain that I’m tired because my child was sick the night before and I’m anxious about the big workload I have this week. I’m honest about when I need support and my team members can help with the workload or be aware not to put anything new on my plate unless it’s urgent.

Not everything is roses and nobody is a mind reader, so we need to be okay with being honest and asking for help when we need it.

3. Two-way feedback

Whether it is positive or negative, constructive feedback is vital to improving an individual or team’s performance. Different to giving advice, giving feedback gives the recipient the opportunity to identify where there is a gap or room for improvement and decide to make changes themselves. Client feedback is also important as it helps us to develop, innovate and disrupt.

I try to have a two-way feedback channel with the clients and people that I work with so that I also have the opportunity to improve the way I work. If I’m your line manager, I expect you to tell me if something isn’t working for you or I’m micro-managing too much. Just like I would give you feedback on how you ran a stakeholder workshop or the communication you drafted.

The way we give feedback can impact how effective it is. But that sounds like another topic we’ll have to write about! Stay tuned for that edition!

Cheers, Jacqui Moore-Moroney

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