Remote work is becoming more and more common. More people are working from home, or they may be working in different countries. This often means that you need to manage remote teams. Managing remote teams or virtual assistants can be slightly different than managing teams in the same location. However, the principles are still the same—you just need to adjust them slightly.
The following seven practices will help you ensure that your team communicates effectively, stays focused on their work, and have fun together.
How To Manage Remote Teams Effectively
Here are 8 ways to ensure that your remote teams are productive, engaged and happy:
1. Establish Goals, Roles, And Expectations
The first step to managing a remote team is to ensure that everyone on the team knows what they are supposed to be doing. You can do this by clearly specifying goals, roles, and expectations in an employee handbook or similar document. This will help you avoid miscommunication.
Ensure to give your employees all the information they need to succeed independently. They can figure out what needs to happen next when an issue arises instead of waiting for your approval or input.
Employee guidelines will also help you avoid micromanaging your remote teams. You want your employees to feel like they have a lot of freedom to take the initiative as and when needed.
2. Use The Right Tools and Technology
The right tools and technology are essential for maintaining a high-performing remote team. This includes video conferencing software, chat apps, and project management apps. These tools allow your team to stay connected despite being separated by distance.
New technologies and tools have made managing remote workers easier. Some common kinds of remote techs include:
- Collaboration Tools: Collaboration tools allow remote workers to collaborate on projects, share files, and chat with each other. Examples are Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack, and Microsoft Teams.
- Provisioning Tools: User Provisioning tools manage users, accounts, and permissions. They can also be used to create and administer user groups. These tools help streamline the user onboarding process. They can manage passwords, access privileges and permissions, and audit trails.
- Project Management Tools: Project management tools allow you to manage projects, tasks, deadlines and more. Some standard project management tools are Asana and Trello.
- Communication Tools: Communication tools include video conferencing software and chat apps that allow your team to stay in touch even when they aren’t working together. Some examples are Skype, FaceTime, Google Hangouts and Slack.
- Time Tracking Tools: Time tracking tools allow you to track the time your team members spend on tasks and projects. Typical examples are Toggl and Hubstaff.
Remember to be inclusive when selecting the appropriate tools for your remote teams. Provide flexibility so teams can use tools that are best for them
3. Encourage Collaboration and Socializing
One of the most common complaints from remote employees is feeling isolated and alone.
Managers should encourage team members to collaborate on projects and socialize to combat this. This can be done by organizing group video chats or sending out weekly email updates highlighting what everyone has been working on.
Another way to encourage socializing is to set up a company retreat where everyone can meet in person. This will help team members get to know each other personally and make the remote experience feel less isolating.
4. Keep Communication Transparent and Open
Remote teams communicate even more than traditional teams. So you need to keep communication transparent and open so everybody knows what is happening.
As a manager of remote teams, you should always be available to answer questions and provide timely responses. The best way to do this is by using a unified communication tool like Slack or Microsoft Teams. All team members can access the same information at any time.
The benefit of unified communication for remote teams is that it keeps everyone in the loop and avoids confusion. It also helps you improve productivity and performance by allowing you to address issues and questions as they arise.
5. Give Recognition Where It’s Due, Often And Freely
Remote workers are often forgotten about and underappreciated. They don’t get to hear the “way to go” and “great job!” as much as their office-bound counterparts do, so make a point of giving them recognition when it’s due.
However, the key to motivating your remote team is to give them recognition for their work. Credit can take many forms, including public praise from management, an email or a video from leadership thanking them for a job well done. Or even simply acknowledging them in a meeting where they are present.
Recognition doesn’t have to be grand or extravagant, but it does need to happen often. The more visible your appreciation of remote teams’ efforts are, the more likely they will be motivated to working hard.
6. Track The Team’s Progress Regularly
Regularly check the progress of each team member, and keep track of it in a spreadsheet. This will give you a clear picture of where each person is at in their tasks and allow you to identify any potential roadblocks before they become significant issues.
Automated software solutions such as Teamwork and Asana can help you manage your remote teams. These will allow you to track the progress of each task and communicate with your team members in real-time.
Another benefit of tracking is generating insight on improving your remote team’s efficiency and communication. You can use this information to determine what works well and what doesn’t work so that you can course correct accordingly.
7. Accommodate Flexible Work Schedules
Remote work is not a 9-to-5 job. If your employees are based in different time zones, allowing them to work when they are most productive is essential. This means you need to be flexible with hours—even if some employees have different schedules than others.
For example, if your team is based in the United States and Europe, there may be times when it makes sense for them to work at different hours.
You can still have scheduled meetings with all employees, but you should also allow flexibility in their work days. This will help you to avoid burnout and keep your team motivated.
8. Reinforce Company Culture
A remote team is no different than a regular office team. It must have a strong sense of connection, purpose, and vision. The only difference is that you won’t be able to rely on face-to-face communication to reinforce these things. Instead, you’ll have to rely on other forms of communication.
This could mean setting up regular meetings with your team, hosting virtual town halls and webinars, or even sending periodic emails offering updates on projects and milestones.
Here are other ways to reinforce company culture remotely:
- Involve remote employees in brainstorming
- Make feedback a permanent part of your process
- Request their input on new opportunities and products
- Delegate responsibility for culture-related tasks
- Create social interaction between locations
- Create a buddy system for support
- Establish accountability
- Encourage trust-building exercises
- Keep communication open and regular
- Agree-on workplace expectations
The most successful distributed companies offer their employees the benefit of working remotely, but with so much freedom and flexibility also come some challenges. That’s why it’s crucial to set up remote work effectively to ensure that your staff can work comfortably and happily. It’s about building the proper infrastructure and processes to support your remote team.
Remember to track progress to get insight into how well your remote team is performing. You can use this insight to make adjustments and continue building the best remote team possible.