8 Tips for Leading a Remote Team with Bryan Miles
By: William Vanderbloemen March 18, 2020
There’s never been a time in our life when churches couldn’t gather for worship.
While we’re finding ways to worship virtually, leaders are still looking to understand how to run their churches, ministries and businesses without the ability to meet in person. As we navigate this new norm, we want to help you by proving some tips on how to run your teams and organizations remotely.
In this interview, William Vanderbloemen speaks with Bryan Miles, Chairman & Co-Founder of BELAY - a leading virtual services company. While this time of operating remotely is new for many, it’s business as usual for Bryan and his team of nearly 100 employees and 1,000+ virtual contractors who have been operating virtually for 10+ years.
Bryan shares how his company successfully operates remotely by offering tips on the best platforms and technology to use, adapting your leadership style, how to maintain collaboration and productivity, and how to offer grace and trust in a virtual environment.
Here are the 8 components of successful remote working that William learned from Bryan.
1 - Have the Right Video Conferencing Tools
Bryan and William discuss the necessity for any business operating virtually to have trustworthy video conferencing tools. While there are many options on the market, such as Skype and Google Hangout, Zoom has taken the lead as the preferred system. Ensuring you have a dependable way to communicate when working remotely is the best way to maintain collaboration, trust, and productivity.
Tip: Use these video conferencing tools to continue or instate morning check-ins with your team or company. This will help you all feel more connected and get a closer look into each other's personal lives, which will build strong bonds of trust between team members.
2 - Ensure You Have Solid Equipment
To maintain daily business operations while remote, it's crucial to have a good computer, high-speed internet connection, a webcam, a good microphone, and any other necessities required to do your job and communicate with your boss and co-workers. This seems like a no-brainer, but these are often things we don't think about until a remote situation arises. It's important to make sure you have access to these necessities at all times.
3 - Maintain Your Routine
When you work from home, it's easy to forget your normal routine. But the best way to show up for work ready and prepared is to continue the same routine you would do on any working day. Whether that's a morning quiet time, going on a walk before work, exercising at lunch, or prayer breaks throughout the day, be sure to keep that going. It's also helpful to have a designated workspace. Ensuring you can work without the distraction of household responsibilities or family members will help your productivity throughout the day.
4 - Create Company-wide Guidelines
William states that you don’t want to create a company policy just for the sake of having guidelines, but setting expectations in a remote environment helps people know where boundaries are, and better sets them up for success. It's good for leadership to set expectations about when people should be online or how to best communicate under these unique circumstances.
Tip: One expectation that will help employees stay focused is to hold calls with mandatory video and audio access. Asking your team to share their workspace on video will ensure they're actually attending the meeting, paying attention, and in a focused-environment.
5 - Ask Your Boss for Clear Expectations
Every boss is facing hard decisions right now, so have grace with your boss and do everything you can to support them. They will be adapting how they lead in this unprecedented time, so have understanding and patience as they navigate. Make sure to maintain open communication as you navigate this space together.
6 - Over-encourage Feedback and Communication
Bryan talks about how on their team, they do “fist to five” system. When the team needs a quick read on how people are feeling about a topic, they ask participants to use their hand to put up a fist (a 0 on the comfort scale) or five fingers (a full-fledged approval) to show their acceptance. If most people are a five, you know things are going pretty well. Easy forms of feedback like this will help monitor morale even during periods of distance.
7 - Extend an Overabundance of Grace
This applies to your bosses, co-workers, and vendors. When remote, you don't have body language to help communication, you can't ask your office-mate for a quick favor, and it probably takes some adapting to work as efficiently as you were in your office. Giving people the benefit of the doubt in these situations will build strong bonds that will transcend this temporary time.
8 - Remember - Culture is Not an Office, it's a Shared Vision
Bryan reminds us that it's not your pool table in the office that creates your exceptional culture, it's how you trust and treat your employees. While it's easy for leaders to micromanage in times of uncertainty, try to allow your team space to prove their competence and drive. Give them freedom to work creatively toward a united goal and vision, rather than creating a list of tasks for them to complete. You can also maintain connection and positivity with virtual prayer times, coffee breaks, or celebrations for birthdays or milestones.