Managing a virtual workforce can be challenging in the best of times, and the skills we use with our on-site teams don’t always work well when staff is at home. Now is a good time as managers to educate ourselves about how we can be effective managing when our staff are working at home. 

We have some great resources that can help you keep your teams productive, as well as some tips that we hope you will put to good use. Check out this video, just ignore the annoying music:

How to maintain communication

  1. Schedule daily “standup” meetings with your teams over Zoom to keep engaged with staff, and require staff to use webcams to show engagement. Try to keep these meetings to 15 minutes. Have each staff member engaged by asking what they did since the last meeting, what they will be doing today, and any obstacles they’ve had, and share any information or questions they think would be relevant for the team.
  2. Utilize chat tools like Skype for Business and Zoom to keep in constant communication with teams. You can mix and match to suit your needs.
  3. Invite multiple participants to a single Skype chat to create a collaboration space that keeps teams connected with each other and with supervisors. Keep that chat open throughout the day to create a “water cooler” environment for the team. Skype will also show you everyone’s availability.
  4. Strive to be a “video first” team for all communications. Be aware of the limitations of email – slow answers and confused tone. Use video chat and phone before e-mail, always! 
  5. Have regular 1:1 with staff via Zoom 
  6. Keep your phone on at all times and have the volume on loud

Set expectations

  1. Set expectations for the frequency, means, and ideal timing of communication for teams, such as “we use Zoom for daily check-in meetings, but we use Skype for Business or the Phone when something is urgent.”
  2. Let staff know when good times of the day are for you to be reachable
  3. Keep an eye on communication between team members.
  4. Establish “normal” working hours with each other
  5. Agree about how long it will take to respond to each other and how to ask questions
  6. Don’t obsess about how staff is spending every minute – set goals and make sure they are met before worrying so much about how they are accomplishing those goals
  7. Trust your team. Just because they are working at home doesn’t mean they aren’t working as hard as they are in the office – they are probably working harder.

Provide opportunities for social interaction

  1. Leave time at the beginning of team calls for non-work items
  2. Have virtual “pizza parties” or lunches
  3. 8 tips to make working from home fun:
  4. Listen to workers’ anxieties and concerns
  5. Ask how they are doing and how remote work is going
  6. Practice good listening skills.

Feel free to share these tips and others from your own experience with other Park managers!

Additional resources: