Being a leader of distributed teams


The total number of homeworkers has increased by 53% over the past two years as a result of the coronary measures, according to recent research by HR service provider Acerta and research agency Indiville among 2000 employees.

It's clear that many employees have now also embraced collaboration tools.

For example, the number of daily users of Microsoft Office has risen to no less than 115 million a day. Knowledge workers made a real catch-up. And yet it turns out that there are still some shortcomings in the cooperation.

Problems arise in the areas of communication, engagement and productivity.

Being a leader in corona times requires different capabilities

New year…new way of working? People are making plenty of good intentions for a new year - it is becoming increasingly clear that remote working is a keeper and hybrid teams are the future.

The group that is currently teleworking 2 or 3 days a week would like to keep it that way. Those who work less than 2 days telework, think it should be a bit more. Those who spend more than 3 days in their home office prefer to come to the office more often. A combination of working on and off-site is therefore the most attractive option for employees, according to Acerta's figures.

But what about the managers? What can they do to make distributed work a success?

We would like to share our tips. If you have any for our readers- we invite you to share them in the comments offcourse!

1. Design for minimal interruptions
Our research has shown these are both physical interruptions (that colleague standing next to your desk), scheduling interruptions (stacked up inefficient meetings) and technological interruptions (emails, phone calls, etc.)

People cannot add the value they potentially could add by getting into deep work, efficiency drops dramatically, and with that their confidence, feeling of control and progress falters.
Modern technology has increased the variety of ways and the ease by which a knowledge worker can interrupt or be interrupted.
Organising a daily team check-in to set focus and align, is a great habit to start the day together with your team.
The Umango Huddle feature supports you with this habit.

2. Install behaviors that build trust

The COVID-19 crisis has transformed us to remote teams almost overnight, leaving leadership and team managers with a daunting task. How can you make sure you and your team operate in this new context of autonomy, without losing your sense of control?
Trust in itself is an abstract concept but can be translated into particular behaviors

Things you and your team members could do to gain trust

  • Getting to know your colleagues on a personal leve
    The informal talks are important. Not only task oriented meetings but a simple call to inform “how people are doing” are very powerful.

  • Keeping others informed of your progress
    Be transparent in the progress of your objectives. When you cannot see each other at the office- this aspect of collaboration is even more important to gain trust.

  • Keeping and delivering on your promises
    To gain trust- say what you do and do what you say you would.

  • Taking time to acknowledge everyone's contributions.
    Appreciate the team efforts in a very explicit and direct way. People like to perform well – but are in doubt- when they do not receive any feedback.

3. Speech is silver- Silence is gold?
In uncertain times, managers often don’t know all the answers so they keep quiet.

That’s such a pity because it seldom creates peace of mind.

If someone is late for your meeting, do you appreciate a short message to let you know?

You can always communicate about:

  • the things you know

  • explicit the things you don’t know

  • the plan to bridge the unknown

When communicating negative news, don’t try to make it seem better. Mention the facts.

4. The network always wins

A company is much more than an organisation chart. It is a network of social interactions!

Ask yourself the following questions to understand the social capital of the company and use it to the benefit of your team

  • who do I go to for advice

  • who do I go to before taking a decision

  • who do I feel at ease with

Help team members to find the right person to get in touch with. Umango might help you to achieve this goal.

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