Remote working at the UOC is here to stay, a situation that opens up new work challenges, such as those faced by team leaders. We are now spread out, both in space and in time, and team leaders have new skills to practise and develop.
According to the HR specialist, leaders must be aware of the “activities and circumstances” of each person on the team, setting a “clear mission” for each member. It’s very important for each person to have a set of functions assigned to them, and “coordination sessions” with all team members could be held for this purpose.
Rimbau’s recommendation is that “every team member should know what they’re doing, what the others are doing, and what is expected of each person”. In her opinion, goals and outcomes to be achieved together should be set. You also need to know how to provide tools to stay up to date with the files and documents created by other team members.
According to this UOC member of teaching staff, videoconferencing can provide a good way to “minimize the misunderstandings and misrepresentations” that can arise in emails or other messages, but with the warning that “they should not be overused”. She specified that you must choose the most appropriate technology for each team and each task.
Training for everyone
Training is necessary for all team members, not just the team leader but everyone else too. And, although it’s crucial that you learn how to use the tools, you must also learn about other matters that are key to working without seeing each other’s faces, such as “communication skills, time management and digital disconnection”. Once everyone has had their training, remember that you must monitor its application.
“Trust leads to greater efficiency, productivity, optimism, information sharing and the ability to ask for help more easily,” summed up the UOC faculty member, with the warning that trust develops “more slowly” when working in a virtual environment. She therefore recommends that face-to-face meetings, for people to get to know each other, be prioritized, but also that people show their trust with positive reinforcement and avoid conflicts by means of a clear division of tasks.
The expert proposes giving team members greater autonomy tailored to each person, based on their wishes or abilities. In addition to “reducing conflict,” according to Rimbau “a certain degree of autonomy is key to the success of teleworking”. She added that this competency requires you to “avoid micro-managing” each team member and allow them to resolve any problems that arise when doing their work.
Social and emotional support
Although leaders in the new teleworking environment must stand by their team, they must also treat its members as individuals, monitoring each of them individually. Rimbau suggested that “individual problems must be dealt with individually through active listening,” and mentioned fear and stress, among others, as key matters to be taken into account.
In spite of working remotely, teams must have a virtual place for two-way communications in which they can make their own “contributions and assessments”. Communication is key to good remote working although, according to the expert, it must be established “calmly and recognizing everyone’s efforts”.
Room for innovation
Unplanned conversations can lead to new ideas. According to Rimbau, this means that, in spite of not sharing a physical space, opportunities for “informal exchanges of ideas” should not be ignored, and collaborative work tools that encourage innovation must be promoted.
Improving the system
The member of the Faculty of Economics and Business pointed out that “teleworking is not the same as working online” and that, once teleworking has been established, the system must keep moving forward. “It’s a process, not a state,” she explained.
The New Way of Working will therefore transform some activities that have traditionally been carried out in person, such as team leadership, which will become digital processes. “Good dispersed team management can provide a great opportunity to acquire and manage talent, increase efficiency, move towards digital transformation and reduce operating and environmental costs,” explained Eva Rimbau.