We the Partnership

Agency resources for managing remote teams

April 8, 2020

By Nathalie Voit

In addition to teleworking themselves, supervisors may now find themselves managing fully remote teams for the first time. The Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration released robust guidance to help managers best support their employees as they telework on a more permanent basis. Below are four of their best practices for managing remote teams.

1. Develop and manage clear expectations for your employees. OPM emphasizes the importance of creating plans for your employees’ work, as the coronavirus pandemic may have shifted your agency’s priorities. These plans should set expectations for the assignments your employees are working on and include timelines and desired results.

Now that you’re unable to stop by your employees’ desks for quick, informal check-ins, these plans can help ensure that both you and your employees understand your expectations. Reinforce these expectations often in your written and verbal communications with your employees.

2. Find new ways to monitor your team’s performance. Once you have developed performance expectations for your employees, establish standards to measure them, acknowledging that the transition to telework might require you to determine new and unique measures of success.

GSA suggests creating a dashboard of quantitative and qualitative measures, such as customer service and employee productivity. OPM reminds supervisors to communicate these changes with their team and offer regular and ongoing performance coaching and feedback. You should make extra efforts to recognize high-performing employees to make sure they feel just as involved and appreciated as they would in the office.

3. Use technology to build teams. GSA encourages supervisors to use technology, such as instant messaging and social media, to help their employees stay connected. Message your employees in the morning or afternoon to check-in. Organize casual events, such as virtual coffee breaks, virtual pizza parties or even book clubs or meditation classes. These informal team interactions promote belonging and a sense of normalcy amidst the sudden transition into telework.

4. Be flexible. Acknowledge that your employees are balancing personal and professional responsibilities while working from home. Expect each employee to have different rhythms and settle in at different times, so give them space to transition to their new workstyle. GSA encourages you to remember that your employees may need to change their work schedule or projects. Check in with your employees regularly and be open to adjusting their responsibilities as needed.

Check out the full resources from the Office of Personnel Management and the General Services Administration for more tips to manage remote teams.

You can also see more telework resources from the Partnership in our posts on tips to help you telework more effectively and communicating in a public health crisis

Nathalie Voit is a communications intern at the Partnership.