Managers can be remote, too. You might not even be working from home; you might just be the only person on your team working on-site. Most of the same tips apply, especially when it comes to communicating and building personal rapport. In addition:

  • Set clear expectations, not just for work product, but also for how you will communicate with one another.
  • Meet in-person, as well as virtually, on a regular basis.
  • Foster a team environment: Make sure your remote employees feel like part of the team.
  • Focus on goals, rather than how the goals are met. You won't have insight into your team's every working moment, so focus on their output.

A Time for Experiments

If staff members are interested in a remote or hybrid work arrangement, approach it like an experiment. Conduct a pilot to test out options for remote or hybrid arrangements to help your department determine the best way to get work done. No one knows the answers yet - prepare them for this. U-turns are embarrassing. Experiments are fun.

If your staff have continued working remotely since the beginning of the pandemic, it doesn’t mean you are set up for long-term success. After all, you were likely forced into this without much forethought or planning at the beginning of the pandemic.

It’s worth taking a step back now to make sure you are considering the best ways to make a remote working arrangement work for you and your team. Consider conducting a 90-day pilot program using a Remote Work Agreement available on Forms & Resources to more formally define expectations and responsibilities. Such an approach may help you adjust and refine how best to structure working arrangements within your respective areas.

Forms & Resources

If you're ready to formalize a remote working arrangement, start by reviewing the necessary templates, forms, and checklists.

Forms & Resources

Dedicated vs. Shared Workspace

As departments begin to assess long-term remote and hybrid working arrangements, many are considering how to approach workspace needs for those who are on-site regularly for a portion of the workweek.

While decisions may vary by department, the following guidelines may be useful to consider:

  • The intent is not to provide employees with two fully equipped workspaces (remote and on-site).
  • Duke should provide an employee the equipment deemed necessary by the department (computer, chair, etc.) to complete work responsibilities at the location the employee spends the majority of the work week.
  • If an employee works on-site regularly for a majority of the week (at least 3 days/week), the department should consider providing a designated individual workspace for the individual with appropriate equipment and supplies.
  • If an employee works remotely regularly for a majority of the week (at least 3 days/week), the department should consider providing a shared workspace for the individual to use when on-site. A shared workspace may include a computer or monitor with appropriate peripheral devices and connections that can be used by multiple employees on a first-come, first-served basis.

In addition, departments may consider designating additional workspace on-site to support a hybrid work arrangement:

  • Undesignated space: open space that cannot be reserved and is open and available to those working on-site as needed (e.g. private office for taking Zoom calls, as needed).
  • Reservable space: individual workspace, conference rooms or offices that can be reserved in advance for on-site use.
  • Designated shared workspace: a dedicated space that is shared by two or more people only. The space cannot be reserved by others and the equipment and resources in the space are dedicated to those designated individuals.

Scheduling software can be useful in allowing employees to reserve on-site workspaces as needed to prevent delays in searching for a space upon arrival.

Manager Information Sessions (Videos)

These recorded information session videos for managers will help you navigate the guidelines, processes, technology, and staffing questions related to remote and hybrid working arrangements. Curent topics include: 

Manager Information Sessions (Videos)

Avoid Common Pitfalls

  • Not trusting your people: For remote workers, it can feel difficult to trust well and get to know someone who you might never have actually met in person. Remote managers don't have the luxury of physically checking in on their team members, so trust really has to be learned.
  • Skipping your 1-1s: Finding the time to do 1-1s can feel like an impossibility, but the pay-off can be huge if they're implemented well. It's also one of the best ways to really get to know your team professionally, so we really recommend scheduling them when you can.
  • Focusing on working hours: One of the reasons why people choose to work remotely is in the flexibility it offers for the working day. But, a lot of managers still focus on the hours that someone works and not actually the output. It's a real throwback to normal office working conditions, and it's best not to carry the practice on into the remote world.
  • Not finding time to connect with the team: Connecting with the team requires more effort and time as a remote manager. Without doing it, a lot of the interactions that happen in an office just won't take place with a remote team. Again, it's another example of something that really has to be scheduled into your calendar.
  • Thinking that meetings will solve your problems: What works in the office doesn't always work in the remote world. Meetings are a key example of something that just doesn't translate so well with a remote team. It's a difficult habit to kick, but it will ultimately save you time and get the message across quicker if you avoid remote meetings.
  • Overlooking the personal & professional development of your remote team: In your role as a remote manager, you need to invest time and dedication into the development of your team. Your team members will appreciate it, become more engaged, and are much more likely to stay with you if you show some care.
  • Failing to communicate: Communication really is one of the cornerstones of remote work. For a remote manager, it's even more important to practice the skill as your team members rely on you for guidance and task setting. It can be easier to get away with communicating badly when you're a normal employee, but it just can't happen when leading a virtual team.
  • Not setting the standard for your team: There's nothing worse than being a bad example to your remote team. It's a sure-fire way to make your team members disengaged and also feel like they can do the same too. You have to be a good example in order to have everyone be on their best game.
  • Not setting clear expectations: Improving your overall transparency has a lot of benefits for a remote team, including the setting of clear expectations. We're not all together in the same office space, so everything should be laid out explicitly to avoid any confusion over your team's goals.

*Adapted from remote-how.com “10 Mistakes to Avoid When Managing a Virtual Team”