5 Remote Management Strategies That Work, According to Remotely Managed Workers
If you are a manager who had to rapidly transition to remote work and then learn how to sustain virtual work for an indeterminate amount of time, you’ve likely felt some pressure and uncertainty. How do you keep your team on track during a pandemic? How do you let them know that they really can take time to care for themselves and loved ones? How can you make sure that you know what your team is working on without micromanaging them?
We’ve shared management advice from managers on the Fractured Atlas team because we feel that it is important for people in management to work with one another to share knowledge, best practices, and strategies that have worked for them and their teams.
But when we think about how to manage effectively, we need to make space for the voices of people who are being managed. What might sound good to managers brainstorming amongst themselves might sound disruptive and frustrating to someone who they are managing. When thinking about developing better management techniques, especially remotely, we need to hear perspectives both from managers and the people they manage.
We all certainly have cautionary tales about being mismanaged, but we don’t often hear positive stories about management. That’s why members of the Fractured Atlas team are sharing successful ways that their managers have encouraged healthy forms of communication and boundaries, so that they can be happier at work and more effective in their responsibilities.
Demonstrate your own boundaries
When I was adjusting to working virtually at a job before I came to Fractured Atlas, I had a hard time really feeling comfortable logging off at the end of the day. But I saw that my manager had her Slack notifications snoozed from 5pm until 9am the next day. She set boundaries around her working hours that I could see, which made me feel more comfortable truly logging off at the end of the day and not responding to work messages after hours. By modeling boundaries even without an office, my manager demonstrated that she didn’t expect anyone (herself included) to work around the clock.
- Nina Berman, Content Specialist
Model healthy breaks
One thing I appreciate in our department is seeing managers use their breaks for exercise and errands. It lets me know that I can use my break time for things other than just eating lunch, and gives me more freedom in structuring my day.
- Colleen Hughes, Program Operations Coordinator
Communicate openly, even if it’s critical
A great manager, to me, is great at being radically candid. This essentially means if there's ever a problem, they communicate and deal with it as immediately and sincerely as possible. Any critique or compliment comes from a place of real caring and desire to see me succeed. It also helps if they also use emoji as superfluously as I do.
- Michelle Martir, UX Engineer
It's not really a particular incident, but my manager always tells me to take the time I need off, go on that run, recharge and refuel. They're small comments here and there, but it reminds me that I am more than my job and my manager reminds me of that if I ever forget. It also says, “I trust you to get the work done without me looking over your shoulder.” This verbalization makes me happier at work, and I can concentrate on the work that needs to be done.
- Sophia Park, External Relations Associate
Build systems collaboratively
When developing a rapport with a new manager, it can be challenging to establish forms of communication that work for everyone, especially if you can’t build that rapport in person. As I was settling into the rhythm of running this blog that you’re reading right now, Courtney Harge and I talked through the best way to make sure she could see the pieces I was working on and fit them into her list of priorities. We landed on shared calendar notifications. When I have a piece that’s ready for her final approval, I create an event on her calendar so that we both know what work needs to get done and when it’s due. This system works for me because it provides clarity and accountability without me having to ping my manager to remind her about something that’s on the top of my priority list, but not hers.
- Nina Berman, Content Specialist
There’s no foolproof set of tips to manage teams remotely, especially not during a global pandemic. The best way to build successful working relationships, with or without a physical office, is to communicate. Ask your team what they need from you and how they work best. Daily check-ins or written reports might make one person feel connected and on-task. It might make another person feel micromanaged and mistrusted. Everyone is different and will respond best to different management strategies.
Without careful attention to building successful and mutually respectful working relationships with your team, you run the risk of replicating features of a toxic workplace.
About Nina Berman
Nina Berman is an arts industry worker and ceramicist based in New York City, currently working as Content Specialist at Fractured Atlas. She holds an MA in English from Loyola University Chicago. At Fractured Atlas, she shares tips and strategies for navigating the art world, interviews artists, and writes about creating a more equitable arts ecosystem. Before joining Fractured Atlas, she covered the book publishing industry for an audience of publishers at NetGalley. When she's not writing, she's making ceramics at Centerpoint Ceramics in Brooklyn.