Want to learn how to manage a remote team?
You have come to the right place.
The global pandemic created a sudden need for businesses and their employees to start working from home. As lockdowns or stay-at-home measures came into force, a large portion of the workforce were instructed to work remotely.
However, remote working is not a new concept.
You will be surprised to know that even before the pandemic, 17% of US employees were already working from home.
Well, pandemic or no pandemic, remote work is here to stay.
The faster you learn to manage a remote team, the better it is for your business.
We have compiled 10 super effective tips that will make managing remote teams a breeze.
Let’s dive in.
Why Should You Hire Remote Teams?
For employees, remote work offers more flexibility and better work-life balance.
Companies too can benefit a lot by hiring remote teams.
First, you can save significantly on overhead costs. Maintaining an office can be quite costly. Expenses like rent, electricity, heating, and cooling can easily eat into your profits.
Second, hiring remote teams gives you access to a wider talent pool. Since you are not bound by geographic limits, you can work with talented people from any part of the world.
Because remote working offers better work-life balance, your employees also tend to be happier and more productive. For this exact reason, they also tend to stick around for much longer.
So, remote working is a win-win for both you and your employees.
But how do you manage a remote team?
We give you 10 tried and tested tips on how to manage a remote team.
10 Effective Tips on How to Manage a Remote Team
Managing a remote team is not about implementing strict procedures. It is about creating an environment that sets every individual up for success.
The team gets stronger when individuals thrive.
Here are 10 tips to manage a remote team that can help you create your dream team.
1. Set Clear Expectations for Your Remote Workers
Setting clear expectations right from the beginning is crucial for managing any team, remote or traditional.
Different people may have varied roles in your team. However, you need a set of guidelines that keeps everyone on the same page.
A very effective tip to manage a remote team is setting work rules that your employees must adhere to when they work from home.
For instance, you may want your remote employees to work a certain number of hours a day. Set clear expectations that you want all your employees to clock that many hours a day.
Using a time tracker tool such as Clockify makes it easier to track work hours across projects. It also gives a clear idea to your remote workers about the amount of time they’ve spent on different tasks.
Image source: Clockify
You may have other expectations from your remote team, such as working procedures, project guidelines, communication rules, and more.
Clearly communicate your expectations, and ensure that it is well understood. Encourage your team to voice their concerns and make adjustments accordingly. You must also make sure everyone knows exactly what they should expect from each other.
2. Create Clear Communication Guidelines
We can’t even begin to emphasize the importance of communication when it comes to managing a remote team.
Creating effective communication channels is crucial to keep the flow of information available to everyone and ensure smooth collaboration. Things can get complicated with remote workers as they’ve to collaborate among themselves and also with your in-house workers.
Your remote teams may or may not be in the same timezone as you are too. This is why you need to come up with a communications policy.
For setting clear communication guidelines, consider the following:
- How does your remote team prefer to communicate? Do they prefer emails, chats, video conferencing, or other communication methods?
- What are the preferred timings? Do your remote workers like regular meetings or meetings on certain days of the week? You may need to adjust for time zones too.
- What is the expected turnaround time for emails or other modes of communication?
The answer to these questions will help you implement guidelines and tools that make communication more efficient.
For example, video calls are ideal for complex conversations because an email may not be as explanatory. Likewise, for quick collaboration you may want to use tools such as Slack for faster and efficient communication.
Image Source: Slack
Of course there are other Slack alternatives too that you may consider for your business.
A reliable communication channel will allow you to timely notify remote teams of:
- New resources
- Challenges, and more
3. Invest in Technology
Technology has transformed industries and it can even make it easier for you to manage remote teams.
There are various tools available in the market for managing remote employees, helping them connect with each other and getting things done without personal interaction.
Here are a few tools that can make work easier for your remote employees as well as assist in remote team management.
File Sharing and Document Storage
Your remote employees may be required to share files among themselves. These tools can not only help your remote workers share updated files but also store them securely.
Here are a few examples.
- Google Drive
- Amazon WorkDocs
- Microsoft OneDrive
Image Source: Lighter Capital
Project Management Tools
Spreadsheets may not be the ideal solution if you have a large number of remote workers working on a project. Project Management tools can help you keep everyone on track and working towards the goal.
Here are a few examples:
Image Source: Namaste UI
Managing remote teams requires you to do almost everything online, from hiring to training to paying salaries. HR solutions can help you effectively manage your remote workforce, irrespective of where they’re located.
Here are a few recommendations.
Working remotely means that your team members cannot meet in person. Therefore, it’s important for them to find common times to collaborate or connect.
Here are some great options for managing remote teams:
Video Conferencing Tools
Video conferencing is not only great for team meetings but also to maintain some connection among workers. With video conferencing tools like Zoom, you can bring that same level of connection among your remote team as you would with an in-house team.
Here are some video conferencing tools you may invest in for managing remote team members.
- Microsoft Teams
- Zoho Meeting
Image Source: Cloud Infrastructure Services
Pro Tip: You may also consider investing in webinar software to help in training and development of your remote workforce. On the same lines, you may also consider investing in online course platforms or Thinkific alternatives to train new employees. .
4. Establish Processes and Documentation
One of the downsides of working remotely is that you cannot walk up to another colleague’s desk to ask how something is done.
That’s why establishing processes and proper documentation is a big part of learning to manage a remote team.
For this, you can create a knowledge management database with all documents.
A lot of learning also has to happen remotely for employees. That’s why it helps to create SOPs for individual job roles. For instance, if you have a content marketing team, you may have SOPs for starting a blog or writing content for websites.
Having well-documented SOPs makes effectively managing remote teams a lot easier.
Here are some of the benefits of having SOPs:
- Provide consistency and produce reliable results
- Improve employee training and management
- Find gaps in processes and rectify them
- Improve efficiency and productivity
- Ensure compliance
Below is an example of an SOP.
Image Source: HubSpot
However, you need to ensure that you keep updating these SOPs as things change.
5. Build an Environment of Trust
Building trust increases engagement, efficiency, and productivity. Trust also increases loyalty and an employee’s willingness to stay with the company. And this can be tricky, especially in a remote setting where your employees don’t get to interact with others face-to-face.
Here are some tips to build trust in a remote environment:
- Place value in employee well-being
- Focus on effective communication
- Be transparent
- Avoid micromanagement
- Address employee challenges
- Help people connect
- Make time for non-work-related connections
Pro Tip: Regular communication makes you more approachable, and that helps build trust. Don’t just send emails back and forth. Talk on the phone, schedule regular meetings, and use video chat whenever possible. Make sure you build a personal connection with your employees.
6. Create Opportunities for Social Interaction
According to a study by Buffer, not being able to unplug from work and loneliness were the biggest struggles of working remotely.
Image Source: Buffer
Since remote work can make you feel lonely, a useful tip on managing a remote team is to encourage social interaction. Social interaction staves off feelings of loneliness, and improves your well-being.
Here are a few ideas to help your remote team members connect socially:
- Virtual parties
- Milestone celebrations
- Encourage casual conversations
- Create a virtual water cooler meeting session
- Play online games
- Virtual coffee break
- Team get-togethers
7. Provide Continuous Feedback
Offering timely and relevant feedback is an important part of remote team management. Remote workers don’t get the opportunity to interact with their managers in an office setting.
Things can get even more tricky in an asynchronous setting where the employees may not be online at the same time. That’s why it’s critical that you regularly provide feedback to your employees to help them improve and grow.
Here are a few tips for giving effective feedback to team members working remotely:
- Give timely feedback
- Always give context
- Offer actionable resources
- Pay attention to the way you are delivering feedback
- Be honest in your feedback
- Ensure the feedback is uplifting and not demeaning
8. Recognize High Performance
Whether it’s an in-house or remote team, a good manager always treats every team member the same. You must ensure you do this right, especially if you’ve got a remote and an in-house team.
According to a report by Owl Labs, 62% of workers feel more productive when they are working remotely. However, 1 in 2 workers feel that those working from the office are perceived as more hardworking and trustworthy, which leads to more benefits and pay raises.
That makes it necessary to ensure you appreciate your remote team members just as much as you would praise your in-house team.
So, be deliberate in mentioning great performance during weekly team meetings.
The high performing team members will feel appreciated, and this will motivate them to perform better for the company, while creating healthy competition among other team members.
This is how you should appreciate your top performers:
Image Source: HiFives
9. Help Remote Employees Understand Company Culture
As someone learning to manage a remote team, one of your responsibilities is to help your remote workers understand company values. They need to know what the company culture is like, and what is expected of them.
Your remote team members may be thousands of miles away, but they should feel like a part of the company in every way.
You may even consider involving them in determining your company’s values. When employees feel heard and cared for, employee retention becomes a lot easier. At the same time, employees who feel valued at work have better morale and deliver better results.
Here’s what the Bradsby Group has to say about employees feeling valued.
Image Source: Bradsby Group
10. Be Flexible
One of the best things about remote work is the flexibility it offers. By offering greater flexibility, you may be able to encourage team members to become even more productive. They will be able to deliver much better results during their most productive hours.
For instance, if one of your team members is an early riser and is the most productive during the mornings, give them the flexibility to log in early.
According to Gartner, working hours flexibility is a key driver for increased productivity.
Image Source: Gartner
Q1. What is a remote team?
A. A remote team is a group of people from different locations, cultures, and diverse skills who work together on a unified project. They don’t work from a single location.
Q2. What is the difference between a remote team and a virtual team?
A. A remote team works on the same project or for the same goal under a single manager. A virtual team may also work on the same project but the employees may report to different managers.
Q3. What are the best ways of managing remote workers?
A. Here’s how you can efficiently manage an entire team of remote workers:
- Set expectations
- Provide the right tools
- Communicate clearly and frequently
- Offer flexibility to allow team members cope with their professional and personal life the right way
- Make remote employees feel valued
Q4. What are the challenges of managing a remote team?
A. The challenges of managing employees working remotely are:
- Lack of clear expectations
- No face-to-face supervision
- Low productivity
- Poor communication
- Social isolation
Q5. How to train remote employees?
A. Here are some tips to train remote workers:
- Make sure the training programs are easily accessible
- Ensure training resources are available in one place
- Make the training interactive
- Create a convenient training schedule
- Track employee performance
If you are worried about how you can manage a remote team, you need not be. To be honest, a remote team does not offer very varied management challenges than a traditional team.
Follow the tips mentioned above and you would have created your dream team in no time.
Let us know if you have any questions about the tactics mentioned above to manage a remote team.