Take a breath: managing remotely for the long run

This is the latest installment in the Take a Breath series, in which we explore ways to transform the pandemic challenges into positive strategic improvements.

Can we be better managers while working from home? How can we help ourselves, and our teams, who may feel lonely, isolated, overwhelmed with childcare, under-exercised and overworked? Here are my learnings from surveying close to 50 support managers.

Put on your own *oxygen* mask first

Managers may, themselves, be lonely, isolated, overworked, and so on–although they may have a hard time admitting it. We can’t be help our teams until we are in a halfway good place ourselves. Take care of yourselves. Get a comfortable chair and take breaks, at a minimum.

Touch base often

With each team member, every day. A quick note is usually enough, we’re not talking about a standard, hour-long 1:1.

Respect Zoom fatigue

Most people report being sick and tired of video meetings, and especially of being on video all day. Allow team members to opt out of video (and question the need to hold too many meetings).

Structure the work day

Some managers were already holding stand-up meetings at shift start before the switch to WFH. Many more are now experimenting with them and are reporting positive results from getting everyone together as they can structure the work itself and also give some structure to what is often an amorphous work day.

Mingle, then work

In the face-to-face life, personal interactions occur in the corridors and kitchens. Even if you are very results-oriented (I plead guilty!), allow a few minutes of personal chit-chat before moving on to business.

Take turns hosting the fun stuff

After an initial enthusiasm for virtual happy hours, I’m hearing reports of burnout, both related to the point above and also from the organizers, who are worn out thinking of new ideas. Rotate responsibilities to host non-work activities.

Make time for strategic work

Managers are reporting that they are doing pretty well managing day-to-day work, but they are struggling getting to the more strategic initiatives, which requires longer blocks of time and more focus. The most successful managers are blocking time on their calendars (and on other collaborators’) to attack improvement initiatives.


How are you doing with remote management? Please share in the comments.


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