University of Sussex Business School - Top tips for managers to keep remote teams together in a lockdown

Published: 09 Jun 2020

Just checking in: top tips for managers to keep remote teams together in a lockdown 

The global pandemic has caused a monumental and abrupt shift towards home working for millions of employees. For managers, there are five key points to help keep a virtual team together. 

Check in with staff - but not too often 

Keep in touch and show staff that you care about the difficult situation many face working from home. 

Endless email and virtual meetings will overwhelm people, but managers can check in occasionally to see if there is anything staff need. 

Respect the need for work-home boundaries 

Managers should encourage staff to create physical boundaries between work and home (even if that’s packing up at end of the day). This can help workers unwind and switch back to ‘home’ mode. Avoid the temptation to expect workers to be contactable at any time. 

Before sending, double-check digital communications 

Before sending a message, double check tone and that the content is clear and concise. 

In times of uncertainty, people may easily misinterpret poorly drafted communications. Only message people when you need to and avoid excessive cc-ing. 

Turn down the volume 

Be mindful of the volume of messages sent but do encourage employees to stay in touch via Slack, MS Teams or other forums, to help with feelings of isolation that they may be experiencing. 

An overwhelming volume of exchanges can become a significant cause of stress and workload pressure. 

Praise effort and be tolerant 

Managers should still acknowledge good work done, even when effort and achievement may not be so visible. 

People will make mistakes as they move to different ways of working, so managers can encourage the team to adopt a tolerant attitude when things go wrong. Dr Emma Russell is Course Director of the MSc in Occupational and Organizational Psychology at the University of Sussex Business School. Marc Fullman is a PhD Researcher studying digital incivility at the University of Sussex Future of Work Research Hub

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