How to successfully manage remote teams
Most organizations have transitioned to all-remote workforces in recent weeks. Aside from being officially mandated these days, working from home offers many benefits: More flexibility, no time spent in unpleasant commutes, and extra hours for family time, to name a few.
The challenges of managing remote work teams
Working remotely poses challenges – especially for those who are managing remote teams. It’s not easy to get a sense of what employees are working on, or for how long. And in times of uncertainty, it can be difficult to keep people motivated and spirits high.
Here at Speexx, we have years of experience with remote work, being a digital learning provider. With offices around the globe, we’ve had lots of practice collaborating and communicating with one another from a distance. Here are our tips for those just beginning to oversee teams from afar:
Stay in touch while managing remote teams
Communication is vital, but it’s easy to scale back with it when you’re not physically in front of each other on a day to day basis. It’s at this exact moment, however, when your employees really need you, and to hear from you; without your guidance and check-ins, it’s much easier for people to get confused, uncertain of what to be working on, for how long, and why. They can’t just pop on over to your desk to ask a question when they’re working from home.
When managing remote teams, be sure you’re still maintaining constant communication with your colleagues and continue to have a steady rapport. This will keep them informed and engaged while working remotely. Remind them, early and often, that you’re available for any questions or chats despite not being present in the physical, literal sense.
Keep your meetings while managing remote teams
This relates to “staying in touch” – keep all of your meetings while working remotely. With tools like Microsoft Teams and Zoom, meeting virtually has never been easier. Meetings not only allow you and your team to see one another and talk, in a way that most closely resembles a traditional, conference room-based gathering, but meetings add structure to people’s day and help everyone maintain some normalcy.
As you manage a remote team, you might even find that people prefer to have meetings when working from home as it provides an opportunity for community and socialization. In uncertain times like these, when everyone’s forced to stay home for considerable periods of time, it can be really refreshing to see other faces.
Be transparent and keep employees informed
A successful remote manager needs to be able to talk openly and keep employees informed across all levels. Communicate expectations for work performance, deadlines, corporate policies and company goals as often as you can, so everyone begins their work with a clear understanding and trusts in the organization.
Employees might also be confused, and afraid to ask about, things like sick leave or holiday when working remotely. It’s important to maintain honest discussions about things like these so that your workplace culture remains a safe, open space.
Don’t hold back on praise when managing remote teams
Understandably, it’s difficult for workers to know how they’re doing or what value adds they’re bringing if they’re not constantly interacting with their managers, clients, or their colleagues. Acknowledge wins and good work when you see it, and consider sharing individual or team successes with the wider organization to boost morale. Positive feedback often inspires motivation.
And don’t forget to thank your employees for (virtually) showing up, even when working remotely, and staying focused during this trying period. Even a small acknowledgement like that can go a long way.
Be sure you have the right tools for remote work management
Remote work need not be difficult in this era. Tools like Wrike and Trello help individuals, or teams, effectively organize and track work and help you manage projects and tasks. Much of this software can be purchased online, or even used for free. And in addition to Teams and Zoom, Google Hangouts and Webex are good substitutes for in-person interactions.
With so many companies worldwide being thrust into a remote working environment, we know it can be difficult to suddenly, without much preparation, get a team to function together efficiently rather than act as several individuals all doing different tasks. It is our hope that these tips help managers overcome working from home obstacles and rise to the challenge.