Remote team management can be a challenge, especially when you didn’t started as a remote based company and your team was used to work physically at the same location: How can you ensure your remote team is productive? How do you make remote workers feel like they are part of your team? How can you balance office management and remote work management at the same time?
These 5 remote management tips will help you effectively manage your team of remote workers:
1. Set clear expectations for your team
Because you won’t be able to walk over to a remote worker’s desk and check in with them, it’s even more important to set clear expectations. Let your remote team know what you expect them to be working on and when. Set reminders so that you remember to chat with your team regularly to get a progress update and make sure everyone is on the same page.
You might also choose to show examples of what you want done, or share a calendar so that everyone understands the desired progress and deadlines for projects. Using a task or project management tool that facilitates ongoing work updates can help you to coordinate much more easily.
2. Focus on communication and prioritize video chat
Communication is key when managing remote workers. If your remote team feels cut off from the rest of the office, they could be less productive, less collaborative, and less happy in their job.
People working in the office with you have access to you in the halls, at lunch, and can stop by your office to talk to you. Successful remote team management requires you give equal opportunities to your remote team. Respond to them as quickly as possible, and make time for casual conversation as well. Encouraging “small talk” about weekend plans and families will form friendships and make your team feel valued.
Stay in touch daily with some form of instant messaging system. Having a chat room for everyone that is kept open will encourage all staff members to have both work and casual conversations. If you are in different time zones, make sure you have a work period that overlaps where everyone is able to have a virtual meeting. Remote workers typically enjoy some flexibility with their hours, but prioritizing the time when everyone is available and online will help your office team and your remote team collaborate.
Video calls are important because you can make eye contact and give feedback about how your remote team is doing. Video chats will let your office staff and remote workers put faces to names, encouraging friendships and cooperation. It also prevents team members from trying to multitask while on a conference call.
3. Hire the right people and provide them with the necessary training and technology
Not everyone is capable of doing remote work. Some people may struggle with staying focused and on-task when they don’t have immediate access or accountability to coworkers or a manager. Others may find that remote work can be isolating and lonely.
When hiring remote workers, conduct at least one video interview. Doing this has two benefits. First, it will show you if your potential employee is able to use the collaboration tools they will need to use as part of the job. Second, you can get a look at the workspace they are in. If it seems cluttered or noisy, it might not be an ideal work environment for productive, focused work from a new employee.
Having the right tools and technology in place first will make it easier to ensure productivity in your remote team. If they can’t hear on conference calls, or can’t access the files they need, it will cause problems with productivity and job satisfaction. Find reliable tools, train your remote workers on how to use them, and your team will remain productive.
4. Meet face-to-face at least once per year
Instant messaging and video chat will help your remote team feel connected, but nothing beats face-to-face communication. To really strengthen your team and build strong relationships, plan to meet once a year, at the very least.
Remote workers could be invited to get together in a specific location for one week a few times per year, or if you have a few remote workers in one location you could plan on visiting them and doing smaller meetups too. If you do visit your remote workers and you yourself work remotely while there, you can experience firsthand any challenges they may experience. Your whole team could also meet up at remote work conferences or other types of company retreats.
5. Trust your remote team to reach their goals, while also holding them accountable
It can be hard to trust that your remote workers are actually working when you can’t walk past their desk and check up on them. Good remote work management involves trust and a focus on goals rather than activity. Concentrate on what your remote team is accomplishing. Set measurable goals with your team and give them deadlines.
If your remote workers are unable to achieve them, re-evaluate the goals or determine where things got off track. Decide on and communicate what the key indicators of success are for each position. How do you know if someone is doing their job well? Make sure each employee knows what these performance indicators are.
If you are paying your team hourly, investing in time-tracking software may be beneficial in order to keep staff on task. This way, you will be able to monitor how many hours were worked, and what was worked on. Regularly scheduled meetings also help hold everyone accountable. Daily or weekly meetings can keep small teams focused, and monthly meetings between all staff members will keep everyone on the same page.
Improve your team management by going remote
For effective remote team management, you need to hire the right people and provide them with both the appropriate training and the tools they will need to succeed as a remote worker as well as in their job position. By setting clear expectations, trusting your team, and prioritizing communication, you can have a productive remote team, and take this opportunity to improve your management skills and your company’s protocols and processes.
Making time to get your whole team together face-to-face will strengthen friendships and improve collaboration. With these remote management tips, your whole team will be productive, efficient, and happy in their work… more than when working physically together at the same location.