Managing remote teams is an art form, it really is. There are challenges to deal with that just don't exist with in-office employees. But there are plenty of strengths that make a remote employee attractive to any company. Accessing better skills by tapping into a global talent pool of skilled candidates, not just candidates in your local vicinity, can reap big rewards. And it’s totally possible to scale a remote company, just consider companies such as Zapier and Buffer that have grown substantially despite only hiring remote.
With working practices set to change following the pandemic, remote working has gone mainstream.
So, how can you effectively manage a remote team? We’re going to break the essentials down in this article from the team to the tools, but first, let’s look at what challenges you and your team face.
Challenges of remote working
A remote team faces unique challenges including:
- lack of face-to-face supervision
- reduced access to managers and support
- reduced access to information
Some of these you will need to find solutions to help plug the gap while others will depend on the remote employee themselves.
Where do you start?
Hiring tech talent
The most important part of a company is the team and getting this right is essential. Not everyone works well when remote and not everyone can manage remote employees effectively.
Hire a remote team with a positive can-do attitude. Doers are the ones who will get things done and are the backbone of any remote working company. They are proactive and productive when it comes to their work and the wider company, spotting opportunities, issues and offering solutions to fix them - a great remote employee to have. Opening up your talent pool to a global one will help you find doers and help your company grow.
Trust your staff. No one likes to be micromanaged. If you’re worrying about what your team is doing and constantly asking them for updates, then it’s going to negatively impact your staff and their productivity. Trust them to do their job and do it well, and you’ll get significant results.
The right tools for the job
The list above shows some of the issues that can arise with remote working, and there are solutions to help with these. Your team needs a manager who can support them to do their very best and ensure they’re productive. Remote working shouldn’t affect your team’s output.
Think how to:
- provide options to communicate with the team
- provide opportunities for the team to chat socially
- offer encouragement and emotional support.
When managing a remote team, there are tools to help you track the progress and productivity of your employees:
- track hours worked
- organise a system to combat the different time zones
- encourage staff to talk using platforms where they can see each other
- collaborate using online documents and spreadsheets
- use email sparingly.
Replicate an office
Slack is often used as a virtual office, with work and play streamlined into different channels. Clients, projects, departments, and office banter can all have their own channel, depending on how you want to split the usage.
Keep a channel open for informal chats and swapping GIFs, but monitor how it’s used. Fun within the team is welcome until the channel is overused and abused.
Don’t let security slip because of the team being remote, ensure everything is secure and stay protected.
Define how tools are to be used, for example, use team communication tools such as Basecamp or similar to keep project chats together, Slack for quick interactions or queries, emails for in-depth chats, and project management tools like Monday.com, Asana or Trello to keep files together and track of projects.
Talk to your team to find out how they want to work, it’s important they are on board with the tools as they will be the one using them daily.
Don’t forget to create opportunities for the team to meet, crack open their drink of choice and relax with each other. Informal meetings are just as important as formal meetings for your employees to create synergy.
The work day
You can’t see someone clock in and clock out. Use a time management platform like Clockify or similar to see how long they spend on a task. This will help you plan and schedule work. It’s easier to track work output with your remote team.
Creating a productive team
Your remote team is still a team and your staff will want to feel supported and valued by you and the wider company. Having processes in place will streamline communications and project work, while having a team that is productive with a good output.
Let's #manageremote together!