Chris Biggs, Managing Director of Theta Financial Reporting explains how the accountancy industry may manage a team remotely by instilling a culture of trust

"This pandemic has created many challenges for businesses, and while working at home may not stand out as an exceptionally important one, it has thrown organisational management and productivity questions into the air. This means that giving trust to your team, relying on their work ethic and relinquishing control as a leader are key aspects to maintaining output when working remotely, comments

The first thing to do when building a team is to employ people you can trust and then trust them – after all, that’s why you hired them! It may feel natural to micro-manage a dispersed team but cannot and should not try to – its demotivating for everyone and won't give the team the chance to stretch, learn and grow. Trust them to do the right thing and encourage them to make decisions. 

Secondly, you must be accessible and create a culture where anyone can come to you for help. You should be striving for a virtual head-around-a-door situation, but make sure to strike the balance between being accessible and being accessible 24/7. The latter will likely make the team feel like they should also be accessible 24/7 and live flexible working by example. It is fine to clock off, just let your team know in advance.

Another important aspect of trusting your team is letting them control their work. There’s no point in having a flexible environment and then telling people how to manage their hours, what to do and when to do it.  Yes, ask to be kept updated on key deadlines or progress on major issues etc, but don’t schedule their day around their personal commitments and challenges – you will only get it wrong and irritate them in the process. 

And while this last one can be the most challenging, particularly during these tough times, be positive. If you are feeling worried, stressed or uncertain, then your team will feel this equally, if not more so. Being remote can amplify this worry and stress. Your team look to you for leadership and during this time, be honest and realistic, but provide the inspiration, confidence and comfort they need. If you have imposter syndrome, put that to one side and recognise you are running your business because you are a leader and this is your time to lead and to trust." 

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