Get to know the common challenges of managing a remote team and learn the step-by-step guide you can use to cultivate a successful and happy remote workforce
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, companies have remodeled their operations to allow their employees to work from home. This change has made managing employees difficult as managers are more accustomed to traditional, in-office practices. By knowing how to manage their remote teams better, managers can overcome this difficulty. More importantly, since remote work is more than a trend - that is, it’s here to stay - managers can tap into this practice now.
Effectively managing your remote workforce will deliver real benefits for everyone involved. It will improve productivity, lead to higher profitability, and lead to an overall happier remote workforce.
To help you capitalize on this situation, we have researched and come up with ways you can successfully manage your remote team. To better understand these ways, we will start by talking about the common issues of managing a team remotely.
What are the common challenges of managing a remote team?
- Communication: Communication is vital to the success of a remote team. A member of the team may have difficulties passing information or sharing ideas with another member. As a result, team morale drops, and interaction between employees lessens thereby leading to lower productivity.
- Tracking work: In an in-office situation, it is easier to keep track of your employees’ progress and productivity. In remote team management, a lot of what happens depends on members’ dedication to work. A manager may not be able to tell if the employees are putting in as much work or taking the right approach towards projects.
- Lack of engagement: Daily face-to-face interactions create trust and bond in an in-office setting. Most managers fail to replicate this in their remote team. One implication of this is that some members of the team may begin to feel left out and isolated. As a result, such members become disengaged and are likely to want to quit their jobs.
- Distraction: An employee working from home may face distractions from family, children, and other work unrelated activities. Consequently, there may be a delay in such an employee’s response to responsibilities. This would be detrimental to the team goals, especially if members rely on each other to get work done.
- Scheduling: Another difficult challenge with managing a remote team is that there may be conflict in schedules among team members. A remote employee may not be available to collaborate when another member is. This would result in delays in achieving results.
To overcome these challenges, you need to know how to manage your remote team better. This leads to the question:
How can you successfully manage your remote team?
Here is a step-by-step guide you can use to manage a successful and happy remote workforce:
Prepare your employees for remote work life. Have work from home guidelines to ease their transition to remote work. This would guide them on how to avoid the common pitfalls that affect other remote workers. Also, provide them with information on how they can communicate with HR, IT, and their team leaders when in need of their assistance during the remote period.
2. Set expectations
Your remote team should know what is expected of them from the very beginning. To make that happen, have everyone set their weekly or monthly OKRs and make them public. Also, allow your employees their own time by letting them set their work hours and break time. This way, they will be able to conveniently work towards achieving their set goals while you focus on the result.
3. Empower your remote team
Your employees will need a lot of company’s support while they work from home. It is essential that you empower them to do this effectively. For instance, your employees should have access to change their personal details via the HR management software.
Also, they should be given (or told to download) the necessary software needed to excel while working from their home. Especially, the companies that have adopted the BYOD management model, need to ensure that their employees gain secure access to all corporate resources for seamless work continuity, even when working remotely.
4. Communicate frequently
First, lay down the rules for communication such as time-to-response, time-to-online, etc. Next, endeavor to communicate as much as possible with your team. Regular communication will also reduce the chances of misunderstanding regarding duties and expectations.
Utilize free software like Slack, Skype or Google Hangouts to start conversations instantly. Another traditional way is to pick up the phone and call them directly (if phone numbers of your team are not available, you can install the Employee App to access the company directory).
5. Enhance collaboration through virtual meetings
Some employees need to collaborate to get things done. As a result, their productivity may suffer when working from home. To remedy this, have them use collaborative tools like GitHub, Trello, or Google Docs. In addition, organize regular virtual meetings to help your remote team keep up with each other’s priorities, problems, and data.
6. Engage your remote team
Employees, when not in a traditional in-office setting, might get disengaged quickly. To help them stay engaged and motivated, you can set time aside for fun team building activities or use the gamification of strategies to engage them. You can also adopt the use of a mobile app like Sprynkl, a free-forever, private workplace social network for team members to stay connected.
7. Support and trust your team
Emotional intelligence is crucial to getting the best out of your remote team. Trust your employees to do their work outside of your supervision and provide them with the needed support when asked. Track and focus the team productivity but allow each member to have ownership of their time.
Get started with our free checklist for managers
Ready to lead a remote team? You can download our free Work from home checklist for managers right here. This free checklist template will help you successfully manage your remote team. It includes sections set aside for the preparation, communication, and collaboration of your remote team. It also contains professional tips on how to keep your remote team engaged. You can easily customize each section to match your company’s criteria.