Companies and businesses worldwide are either partially or completely remote. Companies and employees have leaned toward remote teams and remote working culture. Thanks to the advancement in technology, this isn’t as impossible as it seemed a decade ago.
Like traditional on-site work, remote working has its challenges and obstacles as well. To manage a remote team, an entirely different approach is taken, why? Because remote working is an entirely different thing from on-site work.
We understand the challenges and difficulties that come with remote working. This, however, is not the case in a traditional work environment where you’re surrounded by physical meetings, colleagues and meetings, the challenge to be productive is relatively lower.
In this article, you’re going to learn effective strategies that will come in handy when managing a remote team.
While this article will be encompassing, managing a remote team would be extremely difficult if members of your team aren’t determined, self-driven and disciplined. There are challenges that remote workers face that you have to be aware of as a manager, and you should know how to deal with these challenges and spot them in advance.
How to Best ways to Manage a Remote Team.
1. Have a Remote Work Policy.
Like with traditional in-house policies, you need to have one for your remote team as well.
This is useful for several reasons.
Firstly, it sets a standard that employees both new and existing should follow. This keeps the work environment balanced and eliminates any united special treatment.
A remote work policy is important for your remote team to know what’s expected and required of them.
With a new remote policy tailored to suit running a remote team, everything will run as efficiently as it should, like a well-oiled machine.
A remote working policy saves your remote team from confusion, surprises and discrepancies.
2. Cultivate Effective Communication
Effective and frequent communication is the key to successfully managing your remote team.
If you’re fond of disappearing for days on end only to resurface and point out mistakes, you’re going to create a disgruntled remote team and this would greatly affect productivity.
To avoid this, you need to cultivate the act of regularly communicating with your team, not only when things go off the rails.
This doesn’t mean constantly bombarding your remote team with messages on slack or other communication tools. Know when to draw the line so you don’t become an overbearing manager.
To communicate effectively with your remote team, you need to set daily, weekly and monthly meeting with your team. And if you’re not handling a lot of people, a one-on-one would be equally ideal.
To do this correctly, set daily, weekly, and monthly check-ins with your team. Your daily check-ins do not have to be elaborate full-on meetings, it could be a simple “Good morning” message, before proceeding to remind everyone of their pending tasks, deliverables and deadlines.
These regular check-ins keep your remote team on track and motivated to complete their tasks. Effective communication also helps you manage projects more productively and combat inefficiencies before they become serious problems.
It is also advisable to weave in occasional video chats to keep the human connection going. Remote teams don’t want to be on the camera every day, but seldom video chats are achievable.
Using these communication steps helps foster team bonding and even with everyone working in their respective locations. It makes your remote team feel like they’re a part of a joint unit working towards a collective goal.
Do not neglect to mention these communication rules in your remote policy.
3. Have a centralized project management tool
Project management (PM) tools are an incredibly vital part of remote teams and remote working. Here, members have access to all the pending and future tasks at a given time.
As a remote manager, PM tools help you keep track of what your remote team should be doing or are doing, and you’re also able to keep track of their deadlines.
PM tools let you comment, add additional information or resources to tasks in a centralized platform.
PM tools must be used by every member of the remote team. If a PM tool is set up and only a select few use it, tasks start to slip through the cracks and this could affect the efficiency at which the jobs are done.
So, instead of waiting for things to deteriorate to that point, choose an efficient project management software.
Update projects, and tasks constantly on the PM tool to keep members aware of any and all changes. Whenever you notice a team member may have missed an update, tag them to make sure they check it out.
Lastly, make sure the project management tools you’ll be using is included in the policy and every one of your team is aware of the information.
4. Flexible work schedules
According to Buffer, 40% of remote workers feel the flexible work hours associated with remote work is the best perk of working remotely. As a remote manager, you should be aware that different people in your team have different time zones and different work hours. You should be compassionate, accommodating and understanding to your remote team members with regards to their time zones and flexible work hours.
That said, as a remote team leader, setting up schedules for your remote team members could be a little counterproductive
5. Have the right expectations
If you handle on-site teams and are transitioning to managing remote teams, it is important to be aware of your different expectations. Managing expectations is important both from the employee’s perspective and the remote worker’s perspective.
These expectations range from regarding work hours, availability, meeting schedules, e-mail correspondence, availability should be discussed and clarified from the on-set.
This greatly overcomes the challenges of miscommunication, scheduling and daily interactions in a remote environment.
Getting past these challenges from the get-go as a remote manager makes working more productive and generally smoother.
6. Be constructive and motivating with your feedback
Employees grow with constructive criticism and feedback. As a remote manager, commenting constructively at the right time is key to managing your remote team. Motivating your remote team with feedback is a great factor towards getting the best out of them. This also adds a personal touch to a working system that has everything but personal connection.
For most remote employees, it quickly shifts from being part of a team and working in an organization to becoming a one-man show. To overcome this, you need to schedule chats and review meetings for employees while going through their work. This gives them a sense of belonging and fosters a healthy work relationship.
7. Invite remote team members to meetings and events.
What other things can you do to make remote members feel like part of the team? Invite them to all meetings. Make sure to emphasize that they do not need to attend if they don’t wish (unless it’s crucial to their tasks and the company)
Inviting your remote team to meetings and events keeps them in the loop about the company and reinforces their sense of belonging and will also motivate them to share their ideas more in brainstorming sessions.
In conclusion, managing a remote team is not an easy task. It’s not just your task, it a joint task comprising of everyone you’re managing.
However, with the steps laid out in this article, you’ll be able to build an effective remote team. The benefits of remote working cannot be overshadowed by the hurdles and pitfalls that are attached to it.
To make a remote team work, you need respect, communication and consistency.