Remote working is common across many industries, especially engineering. Between the need for specialist skills from all over the world and the demand for working from home due to COVID-19, many teams have adjusted to remote working.
As a team leader or manager, your job has stayed the same, if not slightly altered in reality. Regardless of physical placement, your team still rely on you for guidance, instruction, work allocation and leadership. You must ensure work is completed in time and to a high standard, while maintaining positive relationships and wellbeing of your team.
BMR Solutions have put together this helpful guide to managing remote teams successfully, specially altered to the engineering sector.
Tips for Managing Remote Engineering Teams
Whether your team is spread across the globe or the pandemic has led to a new style of working, managing a remote engineering team can take some getting used to. If you are new to working remotely, read this blog discussing tips for engineers working from home.
Get Everybody Talking
Make sure to have catch ups and ask how people are, as well as obviously talking about work. It is likely that those who are new to remote working will be missing the office banter and having the occasional chat with their co-workers. Take time at the start of meetings to check in with everybody and get your whole team involved.
If anyone is particularly quiet, it may be a sign that they are struggling. Be sure to pay attention to how your team interact and personally contact those who are more distant than usual.
This is a good way to ensure everybody stays involved and updated. Avoid announcements in one-to-one chats and instead put them in a group message to the whole team. Therefore, nobody is left out or behind.
Find Tools That Work
With a sector as technical as engineering, sometimes it can be an IT feat to get all remote staff working successfully on a software tool. Check in with your team and communicate any IT issues to your IT team to get them quickly resolved. Without working programmes, a remote engineer’s day can easily be wasted.
Central to communication between remote teams are communication platforms such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. Not only do platforms like these helps teams easily communicate as a whole and individually, they often include work planning abilities, whereby teams can assign projects and give deadlines. Having one centralised platform capable of project planning, team communication, file sharing and video calls is beneficial to successful interactions and productivity.
Accept Technical Glitches Happen
Although frustrating, technical glitches often can’t be helped. Remote staff may encounter connectivity issues, verification failures or even slow WIFI, all reducing productivity. Be patient and understanding, especially if you are working remotely too, as you will no doubt encounter technical issues at some point.
Check at the start of calls that everyone is connected, test mics at the beginning of video meetings, or pause after speaking to help those dealing with latency difficulties. Small acts and quick checks can go a long way in reducing distractions and simply solving issues.
Be Mindful of Meetings
When managing a remote team, meetings can become a pressure point, so take care when arranging them.
If you do have team members across the world, be mindful when setting up meetings and negotiating time zones – consider doing a poll and having everyone choose times that are best. Send out meeting invites early and set reminders to ensure all members attend.
Encourage team members to turn on their video cameras to make the call more personal, especially if meeting clients or new employees. However, also be understanding of those who do not want to, because of family members in the background, for example.
Trust Your Team
Those managing teams remotely may struggle initially with the lack of knowing what their team are up to. Going from being able to see computer screens or watch meetings take place to just receiving updates on projects may be disconcerting. However, it is important to trust your team.
Pay attention to output and try to monitor the work done by your team. If you are particularly concerned about one person, drop them a message and ask how things are. Although working remotely and away from a watching eye, employees will still be doing their work, perhaps just in a way that suits them.
As always, communication is key. Don’t be afraid to check in and ask for progress reports. Equally, try to avoid micromanaging and trust your team to do the work they are assigned. Lay out your expectations and time scales so they know exactly what you expect and when.
Engineering Roles with BMR Solutions
Whether you manage a team and are looking for new candidates, or you are searching for engineering jobs, contact BMR Solutions. As leading manufacturing and engineering recruitment specialists in the South West, we help employers find potential candidates in engineering.