Today the question of managing a remote team is, for many, a must. Even though the current pandemic won’t, with any luck, last forever, the realities of an increasingly remote workplace are likely here to stay.
Luckily, there are simple ways of managing a remote team that can lead to more productivity while maintaining high morale and group camaraderie.
We’ve been living the experience of working in distributed workforces (that is, workforces that are physically separated) and managing remote teams. This is what we’ve found.
How to manage remote employees
Remote employees face a plethora of problems that traditional in-office employees simply don’t. For one, remote employees often face more pressure to perform and, though studies show that the remote workplace is in many cases more productive. It can also feel unsustainable (read: burnout).
Challenges of managing remote employees
Remote employees, stuck at home, often face the problem of isolation. They may feel they are unable to escape the workplace and find there is no support from others.
Furthermore, the question of how much work to ask for and when to ask for it can lead many employees to feel overworked. This, again, can lead to burnout.
Finally, remote employees will face a good deal more distractions, which is one of the main factors that affect productivity. Working parents, especially, have a lot going on.
Tips for managing a remote team
When managing a remote team, communication is critical. Your team needs to feel seen and heard: if they think they have support from you and their colleagues, their work will inevitably improve.
Remember the 5 C’s of team management and encourage them within the cohort that is your team. For the uninitiated, the 5 C’s are clarity, concreteness, conciseness, completeness, and courteousness.
Especially in a world of disembodied zoom communication, being highly conscientious about adherence to the 5 C’s can make the difference between a burnt-out and highly inspired team.
How do you collaborate effectively if your team is remote?
It’s important enough that we’ll say it again: the number one most crucial element in remote team collaboration is communication.
Every member of your team needs to be on the same page at the same time. After the whole corporate world went virtual in March of 2020, reports found that successful teams spent 10% more time in conferences.
In a traditional business, conversations happen in the hallways; you can pop over to your subordinate’s desk if you forgot something. This isn’t possible in a remote workplace. You’ll need to have highly organized meetings in a remote workplace, use any number of the many remote team management tools, and plenty of emails.
Performance management for remote workers
If you’re more of a hands-off team leader, you may need to become more hands-on. Because of the isolation that can come with remote work, feeling seen and heard can be important for individual employees.
Gauge morale by one-on-one zoom calls. If your subordinate feels their team leader is watching with care and understanding, their work will inevitably improve.
Remote team management tools
As we’ve hinted at above, you’ll need to up your team-wide communication skills. Use Google Docs and Google Sheets. Try Google Jamboard as well: this is a very effective team management tool.
Furthermore, be sure to check in with your employees via email and Zoom regularly. Aim to be more flexible with deadlines to give your employees a chance to adjust to remote work.
Building your own remote team
Managing a remote team is difficult, but it doesn’t need to be akin to inventing the wheel. Even though the remote work arrangement has been going on for a while, it is still considered a new territory for most companies.
There’s no secret formula to perfectly managing and collaborating with a remote team. It takes more effort to handle a team that is miles apart from each other compared to handling one inside an office. Several challenges arise in remote working that could greatly affect the performance of the employees, such as distractions and poor connection. In some cases, the equipment they use can also become a burden.
To be four steps closer to perfect remote team management, they should prioritize better communication, a bit of flexibility, good tools, and a resilient workforce. Moreover, developing empathy and teamwork is essential in strengthening the relationship of the team, so they will be ready to face tougher challenges ahead.