The Age of 'Remote': How to Manage a Remote Team
Remote teams are becoming more and more common. In this article, we go over some of the basic things managers can do to overcome the challenges of remote work.
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Businesses working with remote teams are becoming increasingly common. For instance, your company headquarters may be in Sofia while you have remote workers in London, Dublin, and Istanbul. Bringing in remote employees raises several workplace issues which you will need to address. These include:
How do you build trust and communicate effectively?
How can you manage a team which operates in different time zones and multiple countries?
How do team members stay in touch with each other?
How do you develop an effective work routine for the team?
While most employers are aware of these issues, they nonetheless have a hard time getting great work out of their remote teams. We have developed a five-point guide which provides you with simple strategies to help maximize the potential of your remote teams.
1. Regular Calls and Meetings
This first point is a no-brainer. Having regular touch points with your remote workers is equivalent to having workplace meetings with your local employees; the only difference is the mode of communication. To make sure that there is no communication gap between you, your workplace employees, and your remote team members, you need to do the following:
Maintain a schedule of team meetings, using tools such as Skype or GoToMeeting.
Make sure that your workplace employees also use these same apps so that remote
workers don’t feel excluded.
Always set deadlines for replying to communications, so that remote workers feel
an obligation to the organization.
Set up a chat room or a group, e.g. in WhatsApp.
Choose the appropriate form of communication for a particular task. For example,
use email for official work, Skype for meetings, and instant messaging apps for quick
Encourage both your workplace employees and your remote team members to
communicate with each other. To help with this, you can distribute tasks in such a
way that different groups of employees will need to talk to each other to complete a
2. Set Goals, Introduce a Few Basic Rules and Your Way of Work
It is your responsibility, as manager, to set expectations with your team members, whether they are local or remote. This will help you hold your employees accountable for the work they do. You will also need to regularly check in with your remote workforce, just as you would with employees in the workplace. Take care to ensure remote team members feel that there is a level playing field: all procedures and the criteria for success should be the same for everyone, regardless of where they work. This way, no one will feel like a second-class employee or become discouraged.
To make sure everything runs smoothly, you should lay out some basic ground rules. We at Dreamix, being an Angular software development company, use the following rules:
Set time limits for replying to an email.
Make online meeting and video conference call attendance compulsory.
Set clear deadlines and agree upon the scope of work to be completed.
Establish appropriate modes of communication.
Establish workplace points of contact for remote team members.
Depending on the specific needs of your business, you may find you need to develop additional rules and responsibilities.
It is key to make sure that you don’t impose your work habits on your remote team members. Once you have established the tasks, deadlines, and your expectations, allow your team members the freedom to complete the work as they see fit.
3. Tools for Keeping Track of Completed Work
As you are managing a remote team, it is imperative for you to choose good platforms for scheduling, task management, time tracking, etc. For example:
Desktop apps such as Time Doctor to track the work done by your remote team
4. Motivation and Making Remote Workers Feel That They Are Also a Part of the Team
Staying in touch with remote team members takes effort. It can even be hard to know what to talk about! Think about the sorts of conversations you have with your workplace employees: you need to have the same kinds of conversations and develop the same kinds of relationships with your remote employees. The only difference should be in the mode of communication.
A situation could arise where workplace employees and remote employees feel themselves being pitted against one another. It is vital for you to take care of the language you use when talking to remote employees. Don’t dwell on what separates your employees or how they are different. Instead, focus on the common goals which unite you, e.g. organizational growth. You may also find that a remote team member feels underappreciated. Always take care to acknowledge work completed. Remember that recognizing one individual’s achievements with the whole team goes a long way.
5. Learn More About Different Markets, Cultures, and Ways of Thinking
Let’s return to the example we began this article with: a manager in Sofia working with team members in Istanbul, Dublin, and London.
This manager should take the time to talk to his or her remote workers. For example, things are very different in each of those cities. By talking with team members, it is possible to learn a great deal about the business culture, market structure, and ways of thinking for each country. What does this achieve? Not only does it give valuable insights into different markets, but it also helps the manager understand what motivates the employee and gives insight into his or her thought process. It is also a great topic of conversation and can help build rapport between manager and employee.
In conclusion, keep these five things in mind when managing a remote team:
Public recognition and motivation.
Becoming familiar with each employee’s working habits.
Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to learn more about how we
manage our remote teams.
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