Tips for effectively managing remote teams

Remote working is a trend that’s here to stay, requiring businesses to finetune their usual team management techniques. Whether you’re new to managing remote teams or looking for new ways to inspire your at-home workforce, here are seven tips to help you get started. 

1. Schedule regular check-ins.

Remote working offers plenty of benefits, from a better work-life balance to increased flexibility and responsibility. However, one of the primary challenges to overcome when looking at how to manage a remote team is daily interaction. Some of the best business ideas come from spontaneous chats in the office, which can be quite hard to replicate at home. Spark a conversation with regular, scheduled check-ins with your team. Your team needs the chance to ask questions and share ideas, ideally every day. It gives you a chance to touch base with the team at a distance, setting goals and providing necessary feedback.

2. Manage team expectations.

Give each team member a clear idea of what company expectations are. A major component of managing remote teams involves delegating tasks. Each employee should know what’s expected of them, both on a short-term daily level as well as in relation to long-term goals. During your daily check-ins, make sure you’ve outlined the scope and deadlines of each project. Regular deadlines ensure the whole team meets its targets when you go remote.

3. Choose the best way to communicate.

Non-verbal cues play a large role in communication. These are missing from emails, meaning a straightforward message might sound unnecessarily curt. In most cases, face-to-face communication is always best. This is particularly key if you’re discussing problems with someone’s work or delivering constructive criticism. When you need to communicate with team members, think about the best way to deliver your message. A quick phone call can often be more efficient than a drawn-out back-and-forth over email.

4. Use technology to your advantage.

Technology plays a central role in determining how to manage a remote team today. As manager, your function is to connect the team so that each member can perform their very best. Aside from email, text messaging, and phone calls, there are also plenty of platforms designed for collaboration. Apps like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, and Microsoft Teams serve as virtual office spaces, where your remote team can interact through a variety of audio and video channels.

Another component of managing remote teams is ensuring each team member has the electronic equipment they need to get the job done. This means outfitting your team with software, mobile devices, laptops, and Wi-Fi as needed.

5. Avoid micromanaging.

The flexibility of remote work is one of its greatest strengths, so don’t take this away from your team. As a manager, you need to hire team members you can trust to get the job done, and be willing to leave them to it. After you’ve set the agenda and provided all necessary materials, there should be no need to monitor minute-by-minute activity. Instead, focus on the outcomes.

6. Make time for remote team building activities.

Part of building a strong company culture is making time to get to know one another as individuals. This is no less true when it comes to remote team building. To begin with, make time for small talk with your employees. Rather than simply discussing deadlines and company objectives, build a stronger relationship by chatting about weekend plans or fun facts about themselves. You might need to get a little more creative when it comes to group activities. Remote team building activities could involve everything from a synchronised dinner party to streaming concert, trivia quiz, or online gaming session. Corporate gifts can also be an effective way to reward hard work.

7. Offer a career development plan.

Finally, don’t forget about career development and training initiatives. Employees today want to learn new skills and visualize career progression, whether or not they’re working remotely. Boost employee retention by maintaining a remote mentoring program. You can buddy up team members into pairs, where skills are traded and shared. As part of your one-on-one video calls, you can take time to discuss development plans. This is likely to improve morale, encouraging your remote team to stick with it for the long term.

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