How To Properly Manage a Remote Team

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The new decade seems to have transformed our work habits overnight. Up until a few months ago, remote work was merely a trend practised by those who made a choice to establish global teams – be it for reduced costs or greater pool of talented candidates.  

Now, it seems that remote work may become a necessity for startups and businesses of all sizes, worldwide. 

Of course, there were those who already had the chance to get a taste of remote work in the past. And while they agree the benefits are countless, they warn that it is easier said than done. 

Continually work on bettering communication

Emails, Slack chats and phone calls can only go so far. The communication tools should be chosen wisely to keep everyone engaged and minimise chances of misunderstanding. Video calls and conferences mimic the real-life situation, allowing you to interpret the other person’s gesticulation and facial expressions.

Keep your employees close (to you and each other)

And it is not just about better handling the professional aspect of the day – utilising video conferencing tools on a regular basis helps you maintain a healthy work environment and strong interpersonal relationships. 

When the team works remotely, you eliminate the “watercooler effect” from the equation. Your employees are deprived of the time when they get to get up from their chairs and gather with their colleagues to discuss… well, whatever. The fact is – the time spent chit-chatting is a time well spent because, sometimes, if it weren’t for a short break and change of environment, we wouldn’t be able to continue with our work as efficiently. 

Implement project management tools

When there are multiple people working on the same project, especially if you outsource in more than one country, live discussions are imperative to further elaborate on the details and keep track of the team’s progress. Without them, things tend to get out of hand.

This is where we come to learn the practical side of project management software. It allows you to keep track of project progress, set deadlines, upload all the necessary info in one place, and more.

Which ones to choose? We know, there must be like a thousand project management tools out there, but the truth is – you will decide on the best one by trial and error. Each software comes with a unique interface and set of options, and it is up to you and your team to vote on the one that helps you get the job done.

Clearly define priorities

Remote work means greater freedom, which is why managers are in constant fear of meeting the deadlines. The challenge becomes even greater when you hire a global team where a person’s culture plays a huge role in their approach to work, work habits, and expectations.

That’s right – cultural background can significantly affect the way a person perceives certain tasks and what is expected from them to deliver. In this case, it is a remote manager’s obligation to first delegate project roles and responsibilities, define goals and metrics that need to be tracked, as well as set clear deadlines. Such an approach leaves less room for mistakes and free interpretation, increasing the chances of success.

Choose your people wisely

But most importantly, in order for all your efforts to yield positive results, it is crucial to select the right team. In the case of remote work, you are free to look literally anywhere for top talent. However, the process requires a lot of time and careful planning to ensure the ultimate team collaboration is seamless and productive. 

A different time zone, cultural differences, lack of in-person communication which results in miscommunication are just some of the greatest challenges managers face when working with remote teams. 

Your HR team is in for a real treat, trying to define the target market and reduce the number of potential candidates. Their job now goes way beyond deciding on the right set of skills. Their location, work hours, and habits are thrown into the mix as well.

Manage your expectations

Ultimately, it is crucial to remain as flexible as possible. The 8-hour workday is a thing of the past for many and the notion of productivity needs to be redefined. Do define the work hours they should respect and during which they should remain available, but leave them with enough freedom to organise their time however it best suits them. As long as the goals are reached and deliverables are on time, micromanagement is unnecessary. 

How can you know that your team is trustworthy? Well, that’s up to an HR team, to hand-pick the most suitable candidates. No pressure, right?