Managing Remotely

Having spoken to a few friends, one of the biggest challenges that they face when working from home is time management

This falls into three areas:

  • Too many meetings
  • Late night e-mails
  • Knowing when to stop

Too many meetings

Quite a few of my friends say that they have had video call overload since the lockdown. In fact, they say that they are in so many video meetings that they don’t have time to do their work.

Some of those meetings are useful, the chance to connect and chat, a chance to discuss a problem in detail … but some of them seem to have less value.

What you can do

There are some things that you, as a manager, can do.

  1. Give people permission to decline meetings. Make it clear that people can only join meetings when it has a direct relevance to their role. That may seem silly, but some people feel under pressure to show their face at every meeting to show they are working.
  2. Make sure your task-based meetings are short and to the point. Be the model. Shorten these meetings and put buffers in between each meeting to let people have a break.
  3. For one-to-one/catch up meetings, you can allow a little more time for people to chat and express themselves.
  4. Plan meetings to allow 2 to happen. For each meeting, make sure there is a clear purpose and a set agenda. Be strict on managing time is a tricky balance between letting people say their piece and keeping to time, but it can be done with practice by keeping people on the point and making sure you don’t go round in circles.

Late night e-mails

A lot of people have notifications flash up on their phones or laptops when they get e-mails. And when they flash or ping, it is human nature to check it out.

I mention this because I know of managers who sit in bed at night catching up on e-mails (you know who you are). They bash off a few replies, thinking that people won’t read them until the morning. You even say in the e-mail “don’t respond to this until the morning”. However, they will be read. And they will start their minds working.

What you can do

As a manager, again, set the example. If you must write your e-mails in the evenings or weekends, then save them as drafts and then hit send at 9 am on Monday morning. Where you lead, others will follow.

Knowing when to stop

For some people, working from home is fabulous. They can fit work round their other stuff, such as looking after kids, taking the dog for a walk, going food shopping. It gives you great flexibility. But it also requires self-discipline. Your more conscientious workers will work much more than their allotted hours because they think they have to prove they are busy, or because they want to get things done.

What you can do

Tell your staff that, in the office, you expect them to be there for 35, 37, 40 hours and that is how many hours they should be doing when working from home.

Oh and remember … it is outputs that count not inputs. It isn’t actually about the number of hours they put in, it is about what they get done!


I believe that managing someone remotely means that you have to be more structured in your interactions with your staff and more disciplined with your time. Take time to talk to your staff regularly to check on how they are coping and listen to their concerns. If any of the three problems arise, be responsive and act.

if you think these things chime with you and you want help training your managers, please do get in touch. I deliver fun, interesting and effective online courses that really make a difference.