With the recent improvements in technology and online communication, companies have seen a significant rise in remote work. This phenomenon was exacerbated by the pandemic, which led to a 15 percent increase in people working from home in just two years, and that’s just in the US. Even though the pandemic is officially over, remote work and remote teams are here to stay.
According to Forbes, 65 percent of workers prefer remote work. Therefore, it is no surprise that managers seek best practices for building and managing remote teams. But managing remote teams is no easy feat, and in this guide, we will take a closer look at the effective management of remote workers.
What is a Remote Team?
A remote team refers to individuals from various locations, time zones, and skills working together towards a unified goal.
Remote teams may consist of people from different cities, countries, and even continents who may never meet each other. Though the pandemic accelerated the creation of remote teams, the numerous benefits of such a work style make it compelling for both employers and employees. Employers can easily access global talents while reducing business expenses (lease and utility bills). Employees can benefit from a lack of commute and a better work-life balance.
What Are the Challenges of Managing Remote Teams?
Although remote work has many benefits for both parties involved, it also merits its own challenges. There are numerous challenges when leading remote teams, but we think most can be categorized into four main categories. Knowing these challenges can be handy in managing remote teams, so let’s take a quick look at them.
Clear and Easy Communication
Discussing ideas or the agenda is more straightforward when employees come to the office daily and meet in person. These discussions can occur in flash or prescheduled meetings or by the coffee machine. Such communication is impossible in remote teams, which makes creating clear and effective communication between remote workers and their managers and between remote workers themselves a significant challenge.
Creating a Sense of Community and Belonging
Creating a sense of community is one of the principles of team-building. If this feeling exists, coworkers know they can rely on each other when dealing with challenges. Creating such a feeling is hard in non-remote offices and is even more complicated in remote teams. That is why 53 percent of remote workers find it harder to feel connected to their coworkers.
Supervising and managing employees’ productivity in remote teams is one of the main concerns of managers. “How do I know if they’re focused on their work?” they often ask. Although 35 percent of workers say they feel more productive when working remotely, tracking work and managing the productivity of remote teams can be challenging.
Access to Information
When everyone works in the same physical space, it is much easier to ask questions from coworkers or managers. This luxury doesn’t exist in remote teams and can hinder the performance of remote workers, especially if they are part of a hybrid team.
10 Tips for Managing Remote Teams Effectively
Although there is no single best way to manage remote workers, knowing a few tips and following them thoroughly can make the challenging task of managing remote teams much more convenient. These tips are simple, but they are far from easy. They all require consistency, dedication, and time. You can find these tips down below:
Achieving the ideal level of communication is difficult, so it’s better to overcommunicate than to under-communicate. Try to always keep your remote team members up to date with the changes and progress in every related task and project.
Don’t just rely on emails (there is a high chance they will be ignored). In every meeting, try to get everyone on the same page and tell them what has happened or changed. Atwork all in one work solution can help you with it, for more information please take a look at Features page.
Use Scheduled Check-ins
Just like in an office where, from time to time, you follow up with your team members about the task at hand, you should use scheduled check-ins with your remote teammates. These check-ins can be daily or every other day, but they must be there. Make sure these check-ins are scheduled so your remote teammate can plan their day around them.
Create an Inclusive Environment
Imagine you’re in a meeting with on-site and remote coworkers (using video conferencing). There is a high chance that your remote teammates won’t get the opportunity to share their thoughts and add feedback. In such a scenario, you should go out of your way to ensure they have shared their opinion.
Some people might find it harder to speak in a larger meeting; you can ask about their opinion in chat. These provisions ensure inclusion among all teammates.
Clearly Outline Objectives
This rule applies to all teams, on-site or remote, but it’s more critical in managing remote teams. Make sure every employee knows what they must focus on and why. This reduces confusion and time wasted, as your teammates won’t need to keep asking questions regarding their objectives.
Perform Virtual Team Building
When it comes to team-building, remote teams are no different than on-site ones. Team-building exercises help team members understand each other better and reduce interaction friction. Here are a few ideas on team-building for remote teams:
· Playing online games such as Skribbl, Pictionary, Charades, Jackbox Games, etc.
· Having virtual movie sessions
· Creating a virtual break room where teammates can chat during tea or a small break. Just like in an office.
· Having a “good news” chat where teammates share some good news about things that have happened to them.
· Send daily snapshots. For example, pictures of your lunch or pet or…
Chat with your remote team members to get a feel for their overall wellness and whether they feel isolated from others or not. Do they have anything that they want to talk about? How are they dealing with disruptions at home?
Not every single chat or email has to be about work. Even though we don’t have to be friends with our coworkers, showing empathy can go a long way in creating a productive and coherent remote team.
Harness the Power of Technology
From messaging apps to software used for tracking progress on a project, there are numerous tools and technologies that can simplify managing remote teams. Atwork is one of these tools that offers document management, workflow automation, a calendar, working attendance with integration with payroll, and so much more. Additionally, Atwork provides a comprehensive data management tool that results in smart decision-making. These are just some of Atwork’s features that can help you manage your on-site, remote, or hybrid team effectively. Click on the provided link to learn more.
Concentrate on Output
Micromanaging is not helpful for either you or your teammates. It doesn’t matter if your teammate is online for 8 hours every day. Instead of focusing on input, i.e., how much time has been spent on a task, focus on the result and the fact that your teammate has completed their assignment before the deadline.
Yes, you will need some rules for cohesive teamwork, but not everything has to be rigid. For example, it’s okay if one of your remote teammates wants to finish working an hour early but will start the day an hour earlier. Or if a parent needs some time during the day to pick up their child from school, you shouldn’t make it stressful for them and insist on returning to work at an exact time. Remember, offering increased autonomy tends to foster greater commitment and contributions from your team.
Build Coherent Processes
Try to create streamlined processes and procedures for everything, from how to start a specific kind of project to how and when to ask questions from coworkers. The more precise the established processes are, the clearer the minds of your employees will be.