5 Essentials for Managing a Remote Team
Working remotely is becoming increasingly popular as companies begin to realize that in many situations they can grow their business by going virtual.
There are many benefits to being able to work from anywhere. Employees usually enjoy the sense of freedom and generally report being more productive. Companies also reduce their overhead and can expand to accommodate talent that would previously have been out of their reach.
With all of the positive aspects of working remotely, there are also coinciding challenges. Managing a team can become more difficult since there is no longer a traditional way of managing in a virtual space.
How can managers who direct remote teams ensure success? Here are the 5 essentials:
Trust is the most important factor in managing a remote team. If there are members of the team who aren’t trustworthy - it’s time to seriously reconsider their positions.
Being able to have complete confidence in your team and their abilities to manage their own time and productivity is crucial.
Knowing that the entire team can rely on one another is also key in a remote working environment. If one person isn’t consistently pulling their weight - it will become even more apparent to other members of the team.
Being able to know with full confidence that they’ll stay productive without you or anyone else peering over their shoulder in the office is one of the most important pieces of making the situation work for everyone.
With trust, your team will begin to appreciate their freedom with the ability to work from anywhere and as the manager, you will have peace of mind knowing that it’s not necessary to micromanage and overextend yourself into their work.
Have you ever had an in-person meeting where it seems as though everyone’s speaking a different language since apparently no one understands one another?
Working remotely can easily magnify that feeling.
However, if mutual trust exists in the team and everyone is consistently putting in a concerted effort into communicating with each other, then communication shouldn’t be an issue.
As a manager, it’s imperative you take initiative in being transparent with your communication and expecting team members to do the same.
You never want anyone to feel as though they’re out of the loop, since that’s one of the quickest ways to have them disengage from their work.
To keep the communication personal, make sure it’s not only via email, chat, or phone. Throw a couple of face-to-face video calls in during the week to keep the human interaction element high.
Finally, don’t focus all the communication on business matters - take the time to really connect with members of your team on a human level and provide everyone with a sense of an office culture where it’s acceptable to discuss sports scores or share new recipes by the virtual water cooler.
With new technology popping up each day, there’s an endless array of tools to help remote workers collaborate and communicate.
By using tools that seamlessly fit into an efficient work process, meetings and collaboration can start to become even more successful than those in a traditional office setting.
Keeping a routine and encouraging your team to do the same is an important way to keep your productivity levels high.
It’s always easy to connect with someone when you know they’re already at their computer by a certain time or that they have a set hour everyday when they’re not available.
It’s also crucial for your own sanity to institute some kind of schedule so that you’re not spending too much time each day simply figuring out what to work on.
Ensuring there are check-in calls planned on the calendar is a great way to stay in touch with the team and set expectations about making meetings productive.
As important as it is to have a routine, it’s also necessary to stay flexible. One of the biggest joys of working from home is the freedom.
It’s to be expected that things will pop up once in a while that will change your plans.
Make sure your own schedule isn’t completely rigid and that you have time to accommodate for things that come up. Don’t shy away from the concept of spontaneous meetings.
Situations will arise when everyone needs to jump on a brainstorm session or potentially a meeting to put out a fire. Being adaptable and utilizing all the tools at your disposal will keep everyone on their toes and feeling fresh.
Working remotely is an entirely different experience than working in a traditional office environment. It can be more freeing and productive, but has the potential to get disorganized or disengaging.
However, managing a remote team successfully boils down to trust, communication, tools, routine, and flexibility.