Working remotely isn’t exactly a novelty in the 21st century. Since the emergence of the IT industry, this business model has slowly started to gain traction. Still, many businesses prefer to conduct the majority of their operations with their employees being physically present in an office. This changed drastically when the pandemic hit in 2020. Nowadays, working from home has become a norm rather than an exception.
Some would argue that working remotely has been a blessing, while others would heartily disagree. Regardless of whose side you are on, one thing is indisputable. From the executive standpoint, it has become increasingly difficult to manage remote teams and ensure that the highest productivity standards are met.
What Are the Challenges of Managing a Remote Team?
You are probably aware that there are plenty of issues you will need to deal with when managing a remote team. No doubt, it’s difficult to be in charge of people you rarely or never see in person. As a result, many problems might arise in such a work setting.
One of the common problems people face is failing to accept that remote work is not the same as traditional office work. While working online, both managers and employees need to have better time management skills. Unlike office work, where there is more supervision, remote work requires independence in order to achieve and meet deadlines.
Another issue that often arises is a lack of communication and trust. Time and again, employers fall into the trap of thinking that their employees aren’t actually working unless they are in the office. Such misguided beliefs can lead to unnecessary friction within the team.
Finally, not setting clear and achievable goals as well as expectations can lead to lower team productivity. In addition to having understandable objectives, if you want to boost productivity, make sure your goals are attainable. Everybody needs to know exactly what you expect from them and to be able to reach these objectives within a reasonable time.
Also, if you want to discover some ways you can improve the culture, productivity, and some more of the common problems for remote workers, Toptal has a great playbook on what you can do right now to help your teams.
How to Best Manage Your Remote Team
Those business owners who hoped working remotely would be a thing of the past are in for a surprise. Statistics show that 4.7 million people in the United States work remotely at least half of the time. There are also 62% of employees who report occasionally working online. Undoubtedly, remote work is here to stay; the only question is: how do you use it to your advantage?
If you are managing a remote team, you will want to ensure team productivity is at its peak. This means adopting the best policies when it comes to communicating with remote team members, following the values of your company culture, and boosting productivity.
There are a few steps to follow if you want to manage your team successfully.
Understand Your Responsibilities
Unless you are completely aware of your tasks, it will be hard to manage others. In most cases, your role is to apply the company’s rules and policies impartially and in line with the company culture.
If possible, a good start would be ensuring your employees are right for your organization. Then, make sure your online communication skills serve as an example to others. This is crucial for connecting with your team and avoiding misunderstandings. Finally, make certain your focus is on clear and trackable goals.
Find the Right Team Members
Not everyone is cut out to deliver top results without much supervision. You’ll want your remote team members to be able to cope with the deadlines and work independently as much as possible. Of course, they will sometimes require guidance, but you want someone with a clear grasp of how important deliverables and goals are.
Communication Is the Key
Your employees are unable to pop into your office and ask for clarifications or guidance like before. That is why it’s crucial to ensure that there is an open line of communication between the managers and the employees. Your team members need to know when you’re available and how they can reach you.
Besides your own availability, you should set clear expectations about:
- working hours,
- meeting times,
- important deadlines,
- and when your employees should be available for any work-related questions.
Focus on the Output, Not the Process
If you want to boost productivity, you should pay attention to what the final product is. When you have people in the office, you keep an eye on them, and you probably think they are working hard. However, this is not always the case. You shouldn’t worry about how much time your team members spend on their tasks, as long as they are meeting the deadlines and quality guidelines.
What Tools Are Essential for Productive Virtual Teams?
When it comes to communication, it is crucial to stay connected and convey information clearly and without breaks. This is where technology comes into the picture. It has become close to impossible to operate a business without being connected online. This means remote project management systems have become indispensable for managing a productive team.
Nowadays, technology provides tools for video meetings, task management, document sharing, instant messaging, etc. Your job is to decide which collaboration platform will best suit your company’s needs and make communication easier.
A great place to start is through a VoIP Call Center – it serves as a communication method between your employees and customers. It’s also very important for all team members to understand how these tools work and be able to use them efficiently.
Which Platforms Should You Choose?
There are many communication tools that improve team collaboration and increase productivity. Some companies opt for platforms such as Zoom, Skype, or Microsoft Office in combination with Google Drive or OneDrive for sharing documents. Others choose Slack, which is undoubtedly one of the most popular collaboration platforms at the moment.
Although different in appearance and interface, all these platforms have one common goal — to help you assign tasks, create schedules, and set deadlines for the projects you are working on. Also, there are some tools that have remote capabilities, with automation completely built in. Ultimately, you’ll want to choose a remote collaboration tool that best fits your company culture and needs.
The communication platform you opt for should be easy to use, efficient, and have everything you require under one roof. Besides the platforms we mentioned, there’s a variety of available tools you can use to ensure productivity and quality communication within your team.
How to Effectively Engage Your Remote Team?
As we said, you may face many challenges managing your remote team and increasing productivity. What helps remote teams boost productivity is staying connected, communicating effortlessly, and making sure your employees are motivated.
Engaging your employees and managing performance can be done in several ways. We mentioned some, such as developing clear expectations and choosing the most appropriate channel of communication. Additionally, what can help you boost productivity is monitoring the performance of each remote team member and motivating them accordingly.
Tracking Team’s Performance
To increase your team’s productivity, you will want to track their performance and provide feedback. By doing so, people will have a clear picture of where they stand. Receiving constructive feedback will help workers see their mistakes and improve their future work.
Management software, such as Harvest or Patriot, can help you track performance. In addition, you can use programs such as Slack or Asana to provide the team with detailed, weekly feedback. Such channels can also encourage your employees to tell you about the difficulties and problems they might be facing. This way, you are making sure your team feels appreciated and valued.
Finally, recognize your employees’ efforts. When your team members do well on a task, make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed. You can send out a circular email praising the team’s achievements or organize a meeting where you will give due recognition. This will boost both the team’s morale, and in the long run, it will further motivate them toward greater achievements.
The other thing you can do to increase morale is by incorporating some kind of night or activity outside of work. This includes Yoga, Tai Chi, bowling, and more!
To Sum Up
Managing your remote team can be quite challenging unless you approach it responsibly and with a healthy level of curiosity. For best results, make sure your remote employees know exactly what they need to do and how to reach you.
Also, you want to be up to date with the latest team management tech. These collaboration tools will help you stay connected with the team and facilitate your day-to-day operations. Finally, to increase overall productivity and team engagement, be generous with feedback and try to motivate your workers to do the same.
How do you manage your remote teams? We love hearing new ideas! Drop us a note at email@example.com