6 Tips To Managing Remote Teams Effectively
Remote Working

6 Tips To Managing Remote Teams Effectively

By
Derek Abram
|
CEO of Prio
|
7 min read

With remote working continuing to remain how a lot of teams operate even though the restrictions enforced due to the Covid pandemic have largely been eased, businesses are changing the way they look at hiring. 

Instead of looking for talent locally, a lot of organizations are choosing to hire the best talent from around the globe.  This has made it imperative for people managers and SMB owners to adapt to new strategies and technologies in order to effectively manage their teams.

Leading a remote team involves being able to nurture, inspire and efficiently manage your team irrespective of distance. This means looking at innovative ways to communicate effectively, build team morale, monitor productivity and more.

We spoke to industry leaders about the best practices being followed by managers around the world to collate these tips to managing remote teams effectively. 

Challenges to expect when running a remote team

Before we address management best practices, let’s take a look at some of the challenges you can expect while managing a remote team.

Communication challenges in remote teams

While managing an on-site team, communication is easier, considering you can schedule regular meetings to keep yourself and your team abreast with the latest developments. However, this becomes difficult when your team is spread across the globe. 

One of the biggest hindrances to efficient communication is that different team members may live in different time zones, making it almost impossible to have an overlapping period to schedule meetings.

This makes the chosen modes of communication chat services and emails, be it to relay information or to transfer files. Often, important bits of information can be lost in chat logs. 

Building a team culture

With a team spread across the globe, getting everyone to feel like they belong and are a part of something bigger than themselves can be difficult. While your team members may all contribute towards a common goal, they all work by themselves, with interactions limited to virtual meetings and chats.

Those interactions can hardly be expected to create the same kind of bonhomie and camaraderie that sharing meals in the cafeteria or chatting over a coffee during breaks will.

Productivity

While a lot of data claims that working from home is more productive than coming into the office everyday, it becomes difficult for business owners and managers to actually measure their employees productivity, especially if you cannot justify whether a task requires a certain amount of time or not.

Another flaw some managers find with working from home is that while a team member may be working efficiently on a task, that task may not be what needs to be prioritized. Gaps in communication are most often the cause for this. 

How to manage remote teams effectively

Let’s now take a closer look at how to manage remote teams effectively.

Set boundaries with your remote employees

Setting boundaries is essential while managing remote workers, especially when they all live in different time zones. While interacting with each other is essential to progress, you need to make them aware of each other’s working hours, so intrusions into personal lives do not occur often.

These boundaries will also show your team that you as a business owner or manager actually care about their work-life balance, and will go a long way in building goodwill. 

Set clear expectations

Be sure to always set clear expectations as to what is expected of your team members, both in the near future and in the long run. Small businesses often need employees that are aware of business risks and situations that may need them to stop doing what they were engaged in and take on new tasks without much prior notice.

An unprepared team member could easily become unmotivated and underproductive, especially in a remote situation where face-to-face mentoring and addressing grievances may not be possible. 

While setting expectations, be sure to address working hours, regular communication channels within the organization and with clients, regularly scheduled meetings, project deadlines as well as long term and immediate goals. 

Build communication channels

Effective communication is key to having your entire team on the same page. While this posed a problem when working from home was enforced due to the pandemic, it is now fairly easy to manage.

Tools like Slack, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Google Suite and Microsoft Teams have made chatting with colleagues, sharing files, video conferencing and collaborating with other teams both internally and externally all possible by literally clicking on a couple of buttons.

Boost socialization

Socialization and feel good activities are key to employee morale, but a pizza party or happy hours are hardly possible when your team is spread around the world. However, there are other ways to boost socialization and encourage interactions that aren’t related to work even while managing remote teams.

A good place to start would be to carve some time out occasionally from your working hours to encourage aspects like discussions about life in general, entertainment, recognition programs and celebrating cultural diversity using video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Skype and Zoho.

Encourage transparency

A major concern when working with remote teams is that because your team works from wherever they are, you may not always have the visibility and control to oversee how they function and ensure they’re on track to complete their tasks on schedule. 

Facilitating transparency and accountability will help you impress the importance of strong work etiquettes upon your team. Be sure everyone is aware of their roles, responsibilities and the impact they will have on the projects you are working on. Share with them a calendar that shows common and individual holidays, scheduled meetings and deadlines.

Be sure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to the organization’s work culture and ground rules. Being approachable and available to mentor your team members when they need a nudge in the right direction goes a long way in making them feel like they belong and encouraging productivity.

Most importantly, actively track performance and progress, both of the project and of your team members. That way, you will be able to spot and address gaps before issues escalate. 

Get the right toolstack

Working with remote teams can be challenging as it is, but without the right tools to organize and automate some key functions for you, you may find yourself struggling to keep up. Here are some tools that we think every SMB and remote team manager should have as a part of their toolstack.

HR Management: HRLocker

HRLocker is a one stop shop for all your human resources management needs. From enabling  you to sort out and classify resumes when you’re hiring, tracking employee performance, payroll management and attendance tracking to enabling training and certification programs, HRLocker can help you do it all.

Its API allows for integrations with external websites and applications like Twitter, Facebook, Sage Roll and LinkedIn. Depending on the size of your team and your HR needs, choose from one of their four plans, ranging from a free subscription for upto 4 employees to their HR Professional plan, which costs $6.85 a month per person with a stipulation that you subscribe for a minimum of 15 people.

Time tracking: Prio

Time tracking is essential for you to ensure that your remote employees are actually focused on the task at hand when they need to be, and we at Prio have just the tool for you.

You can share an email link to Prio’s time tracker with your team, and all they need to do is click on start when they start their day, and stop it when they are done. They can also track their breaks, giving you a clear picture of how many hours were spent working on the task assigned to them.

This will allow you to compare the time taken to finish a project against the revenue generated, to see if it is justifiable and to fix any gaps in productivity if you infer that the task could have been completed sooner. You could also share billable hours with your client if it applies. 

Prio’s time tracker is absolutely free, irrespective of the size of your team. Come on board with Prio today and learn more about our easy to use and effective tools.

Project Management: Monday.com

If you’re looking for a tool to help you manage projects and enable collaborations both internally as well as between your team and your clients, Monday.com is the perfect tool for you. Work OS, its intuitive and easy to use UI allows you to assign tasks, track productivity and monitor progress of multiple projects from a single dashboard. 

Collaborations will be a breeze, thanks to its integrations with Slack, Google Drive, Dropbox, Gmail, Google Calendar, Github and a lot of other external applications. Monday.com also has a host of automations designed to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks, so that your team can concentrate on more productive tasks.

You get a 14 day free trial for two people on Monday.com, after which you will need to pay $6 a month for every employee you share access with. 

Final thoughts

With advantages like an endless pool of talent to choose from and a global perspective, remote teams are sure to become popular in the near future. Even though managing a remote team may seem like a lot of work right now, the tips we’ve shared with you are sure to help you streamline that process. 

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