Remote work indeed provides many benefits, but it also presents unique challenges for managers who must learn to manage their remote teams effectively.
The main reason you need to manage remote teams is to ensure that they are meeting their goals and deadlines. Your remote team may face different distractions and work environments that can impact productivity, and you must be able to identify and address these issues to ensure that work is being completed on time and to a high standard.
Additionally, as a manager, you need to ensure that remote team members feel connected and engaged with the company and their colleagues. Remote work can be isolating; therefore, you must make a conscious effort to foster a sense of community and teamwork among your remote team members.
For remote teams, good team management is a magic formula to boost output and harmony. But how do you maintain a healthy remote working relationship with your staff? What are some of the most potent practices for managing remote teams? Let's find out!
Challenges in managing remote teams
Communication: Communication can become a significant challenge when managing remote teams. It's essential to have effective communication channels and to establish regular check-ins and updates.
Trust: When team members are not in the same physical location, it can be harder to build trust. Due to this, remote work management becomes more difficult.
Technology: Technology is critical for managing remote teams, but it can also be hazardous when misused. If used wisely, it can help you support your team immensely.
Time Zones: Managing remote teams spread across different time zones can be difficult, especially when scheduling meetings or establishing deadlines.
Isolation: Remote workers feel isolated and disconnected from the team when they are not physically present in the same space. The distance can make your team members feel distant, which is why it is essential to support your remote team.
Accountability: It can be harder to monitor and track the work of remote team members as you can't see what they are doing.
Culture: Maintaining a strong team culture can be challenging when team members are spread out across different locations. It is difficult to avoid misunderstandings when you are not under the same roof.
Here are the best practices for managing remote teams
Managing remote teams requires a different approach than managing traditional in-person teams. Here are some best practices for managing remote teams effectively:
1. Schedule daily check-ins
Daily check-ins are an effective way to support and manage your remote team. Here are some tips for implementing daily check-ins:
Set a consistent time: Establish a constant time for daily check-ins that works for everyone on the team. It helps to ensure that everyone is available and can attend the check-ins.
Use video conferencing: Use video conferencing or other communication tools to facilitate the daily check-ins. It will help you create a sense of connection and allow your remote team members to see and hear each other.
Keep it brief: Keep the daily check-ins brief and focused. Discuss any urgent issues or updates and allow team members to ask questions or provide feedback.
Review progress: Use the daily check-ins to review progress on projects and tasks. It helps to ensure that everyone is on track and can identify any issues or roadblocks.
Provide support: Use the daily check-ins to support and guide team members as needed. It helps to ensure that everyone has the resources they need to be successful.
Show appreciation: Use the daily check-ins to show appreciation for your team members and their hard work. A simple 'thank you' note can do wonders in boosting morale and motivation.
2. Communicate regularly
Establish regular check-ins with your remote team members to ensure that all your remote team members are on the same page. Use multiple communication channels to reach your team, including email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and phone calls. It ensures that everyone has access to the information they need.
When communicating with your team, be clear and concise. Avoid the use of jargon or other technical terms that may be confusing, and provide clear instructions and expectations. Respond to your team members promptly.
3. Set clear expectations
Define clear expectations for your remote team members regarding work hours, deadlines, deliverables, and communication.
Establish clear goals for each team member and the team as a whole. Ensure everyone in your team understands how their work contributes to the project's success.
Create standard operating procedures (SOPs) for your team. SOPs provide step-by-step instructions for completing tasks and help to ensure consistency and quality.
Use project management tools, collaboration software, and other technology to manage remote teams. This helps to track progress, share documents, and ensure that everyone has access to the information they need.
Here are some of the most promising ways in which you can use technology to support and manage your remote team:
Video conferencing: Use video conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype to conduct team meetings, one-on-one meetings, and other forms of communication. Video conferencing can help to foster a sense of community and collaboration among remote team members.
Project management tools: Use project management tools like Trello, Asana, and Basecamp to manage tasks, deadlines, and project progress. These tools can help to improve organization and efficiency for remote teams.
Time tracking software: Use time tracking software like Toggl and Harvest to track time spent on projects and tasks. This can help to ensure that team members are using their time effectively and efficiently.
Instant messaging: Use instant messaging tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams to facilitate quick communication and collaboration among team members. These tools can help to reduce email clutter and improve overall communication.
Cloud storage: Use cloud storage tools like Google Drive and Dropbox to store and share files among team members. This can help to improve collaboration and ensure that every team member has access to the information they need.
Virtual private networks (VPNs): Use VPNs to provide secure access to company systems and data for remote team members. VPNs can help to ensure that sensitive information is protected and secure.
5. Focus on results, not the activity
Focusing on results, not activity, is an essential mindset for managing a remote team. When team members work remotely, monitoring their activity and ensuring that they are working efficiently can be difficult. Instead of focusing on activity, focus on the results that your team members are producing.
Measure progress regularly and track results against goals. This can help to identify areas for improvement and ensure that your team members are on track to achieve their goals.
6. Define the purpose of your endeavor
Once more, defining the WHY is essential for energizing people about the purpose. The fundamental principle of high performance for remote teams is ensuring everyone understands the overall mission and their part in achieving success on a new battlefield.
7. Provide resources
Providing opportunities for team members to learn new skills, attend conferences or workshops, or participate in job shadowing programs can help them grow professionally and become more effective at their jobs.
Give your team the necessary tools, equipment, and technology they need to perform their jobs effectively. It will make a big difference in their productivity and job satisfaction.
Removing obstacles is the potent answer to how to support your team at the workplace. It's crucial to emphasize some of the recent, unanticipated challenges that remote workers encounter, such as their isolation on a physical and emotional level, diversions at home that draw them in many directions, children who are homeschooled, and Amazon's hourly doorbell.
This may soon lead to organizations confronting additional challenges that put undue pressure on teams. Protecting the team so they can stay concentrated on their present obligations is one of the many roles of leadership in command i.e the manager. Remove as many barriers as you possibly can!
9. Encourage your employees to have remote social interactions
Schedule regular virtual coffee breaks or team lunches where team members can socialize and catch up with each other in a relaxed setting.
Create Slack channels or other chat groups where team members can discuss non-work related topics like hobbies, sports, or TV shows.
Organize virtual group exercise classes like yoga or pilates where team members can participate together, promoting healthy habits and a sense of team unity.
To support your team at the workplace, we advise you not to demand too many Zoom meetings and instead allocate time during existing meetings for extracurricular activities and conversations. Then, on occasion, schedule that happy hour or pizza party!
Embracing diversity is one of the best practices for managing remote teams. It is not surprising to encounter cultural barriers when leading remote teams. Misunderstandings and conflicts drive the teams apart. They are the main issues with multicultural teams. It gets pretty challenging to manage people of diverse ethnicities, embracing cultural diversity to facilitate team formation.
An easy solution is to find how different people from different locations are receptive to taking input, develop an attitude of celebrating diversity, be considerate about national holidays for your global staff, and respect every cultural variation.
More than just "managing," the best managers also mentor and coach. Just because you are dealing with instability, complexity, and ambiguity in your environment, doesn't mean you should stop working to improve your teams.
Invest your time, resources, and knowledge in mentoring your employees. Teach them what you learned the hard way. Share the wealth of your experience with them. That is how they will relate to you.
12. Provide feedback
Provide regular feedback to your remote team members to help them improve their skills and performance.
Be specific: When giving feedback, be clear about what you're addressing. Use examples to illustrate your points, so your team members understand exactly what you're referring to.
Be timely: Provide feedback as soon as possible after the incident or behavior you're addressing occurs. Waiting too long to provide feedback can reduce the effectiveness of the input and make it less actionable.
Be objective: If you genuinely want to support your team at the workplace, then provide them feedback based on observable behaviors, not subjective opinions. Focus on what the team member did or said, not on their character or personality.
Be constructive: Feedback should be aimed at helping the team member improve, not tearing them down. Frame feedback positively and constructively that encourages growth and development.
Be collaborative: Work with your team members to set goals and develop action plans based on the feedback you provide. Encourage them to ask questions, offer suggestions, and take ownership of their development.
Be consistent: Provide feedback regularly, not just during annual reviews. Consistent feedback can help team members stay on track and make progress toward their goals.
Be open to feedback: Encourage your team members to provide feedback to you as well. Be open to their suggestions and willing to make changes based on their input.
13. Be flexible
Recognize that remote team members may have different work styles and schedules. To support your team at the workplace:
Be flexible and accommodating to ensure that everyone can work effectively.
Recognize that your team members have different personalities, work styles, and needs. Be willing to adjust your management style to fit each individual's unique requirements.
Be willing to adapt your strategies and plans as the situation requires. Encourage your team members to offer suggestions for improvement and be open to trying new approaches.
Ensure that your team members feel included and valued. Encourage diversity and inclusivity, and make sure that everyone has an equal opportunity to contribute.
Recognize that change takes time and that not all team members will adapt to new approaches at the same pace. Be patient and supportive as they adjust to new expectations.