Managing tension in remote teams

Jan 25, 2021


By Esmée Hardwick-Slack

Remote working presents its own unique set of challenges, such as miscommunication, which can lead to friction between team members. These issues tend to be avoidable when physical face to face communication is possible but things can easily be misconstrued when said in an email.

Recency bias

When managing a remote team, it’s important to look out for recency bias – the tendency to place more importance on things that have been seen more recently. Some people are better than others at overcoming this bias and keeping themselves front of mind with their colleagues. Managers need to think about the whole team rather than those that they may have spoken with more recently.

Out of sight – not out of mind

In remote teams there is always the danger that quieter, more introverted team members could feel that they are “out of sight and out of mind”. Managers need to ensure that everyone, regardless of their location or timezone, has a sense of belonging and of being “in the loop” on day to day matters. When choosing who gets to work on a new project or opportunity, managers must think about their whole team and tap into the full pool of talent, regardless of how visible they are in the organisation.

Regular communication

Most firms have had to change quickly in order to adapt to remote working. The culture and in-person relationships from the office tended to carry over to remote teams, at least initially. However, over a period of a few months, that social capital tends to run out. As teams adapt to working in remote environments, managers need to be deliberate and intentional about establishing team culture.

Culture and the feeling of being part of a team will not establish itself so it is down to the manager to drive this. Regular communication is key and managers can drive this through setting up weekly team meetings as well as structured monthly one-to-one meetings for team members. These regular meetings also give team members an opportunity to discuss any challenges or difficulties that they are facing. This can help to reduce tension between team members as any difficulties are discussed and actions to resolve the issues can be agreed in order to nip any problems in the bud.

Have you run into any issues during lockdown? How have you eased the tension? Let us know in the comments or via our LinkedIn.

Related articles:

Having difficult conversations remotely

How to avoid becomong a micro-manager

Managing staff stress levels

Other posts you might like:

Get a helping hand for your business.