27 September 2023

Remote control: Keeping on top of remote working

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As remote working becomes the new normal and unexpected challenges emerge, Sonia McDonald* has a checklist that helps managers anticipate problems.

Remote working (such as working from home) was already becoming a welcome trend in the workforce, but now it has become a necessity where possible.

These uncertain times are causing even the most confident managers to feel uneasy.

They not only have to adapt to a new working style that they likely have no experience in, but also try to help their staff cope.

If you’re managing a remote workforce, or are going to be very soon, I’ve put together these checklists to help you make sure you have your bases covered.

Each checklist covers a different aspect of remote working and, as you check off each point, will help you to feel confident moving in this new direction.

Get Your Technology in Order:

Make sure yourself and your team have the necessary technology available, such as a smartphone and a laptop.

Create accounts with video conferencing sites like Skype and Zoom, instant messaging sites like WhatsApp or Slack, and collaborative sites like Trello, Microsoft Teams or Google Project Management.

Get premium licenses for relevant programs so that more of your staff can easily access these technologies to interact.

Set Goals:

Decide on the goals you want yourself and your team to achieve.

Be clear about expectations, responsibilities and goals.

Stay focused on these goals, and regularly check in with your team to see how they are tracking.

Foster Trust and Engagement:

Give your team positive reinforcement and regular feedback to encourage engagement and keep morale boosted.

Let your team know you’re there for them and encourage as many check-ins with you as they feel they need.

When anyone in the team has a win, or the whole team does, be sure to share it to boost spirits.

Give real thought to who you assign tasks to — don’t favour team members over others.

Don’t start micro-managing and being controlling because you cannot physically see your team working.

Be encouraging and empathetic, as these are confusing and uncertain times.

Ask that your own boss regularly check in with the members of your team, so that they feel valued and important.

Engage in online learning and development, webinars and learning discussions. Pick a book or article each week and read it as a team as part of your development.

Promote and Maintain Healthy Work and Life Practices:

Promote breaks and only work during ‘normal’ business hours.

Promote keeping up the usual morning routine, as if your team was actually heading into the office.

This is crucial to keeping yourself and your team productive and helps stave off depression.

Allow (and actively encourage) your team members to have a water bottle on their desk or duck out for a coffee every once in a while.


Try and treat all interactions as close to usual as possible, so that you can help your team members adjust and stay engaged.

Choose one of your communication site’s channels or threads to use as an official ‘Announcements’ source so everyone can keep up-to-date with changes and information.

Arrange a video chat each morning with your team to get everyone feeling connected and pumped for the day ahead.

Have meetings one-on-one with each team member on a regular basis to keep them motivated and engaged.

Make sure to arrange check-ins about each team member’s wellbeing.

Encourage Social Interactions and Fun:

Actively encourage your team to chat through WhatsApp, Zoom, etc.

This is so members feel less isolated, which is great for their mental health.

Make sure that while interactions that require seriousness are treated as such, you introduce fun activities as well.

Ideas could include the cutest photo of your pet, best funny mug, funniest hat in a video call.

Administrative and Contractual Considerations:

Check with your organisation about whether changes need to be made to contracts due to the change to working from home.

Provide training on performing safety audits of your team members’ home offices, as work health and safety is still important even when working remotely.

If needed, organise online training for your team to help them adjust to working in this different way.

Topics could include time management, and how to avoid distractions and stay focused.

If it’s taking you a long time to adjust to this new normal, don’t be too hard on yourself.

Even everyday activities like grocery shopping or going to the chemist are so different during this time and working remotely can be very challenging.

While and end date for all this is still unclear, we can still do things to help ourselves cope when managing a remote workforce.

*Sonia McDonald is founder of Brisbane-based LeadershipHQ and McDonald Inc. which builds leaders and organisations through strategy, culture, leadership, performance and change. She can be contacted at soniamcdonald.com.au

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

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