3 Challenges of Managing Remote Teams (And How to Overcome Them)

In the age of globalization, it's hard to imagine a company that hasn't considered hiring remote employees. We can go back and forth about the pros and cons of remote team management. Still, one thing remains true; more businesses are choosing to trust in remote work practices thanks to the flexibility and reduced costs of outsourcing.

A remote team usually consists of a team leader or a team manager who is responsible for the project and its development. Team members are often in different geographic regions. Still, a recent trend shows that companies prefer to assemble the teams with professionals located within +/-2 hour timezone difference to ensure enough time for communication. 

Hiring remote employees come with some challenges that managers must overcome to create a productive environment. Things such as communication, training, onboarding, and culture are some of the issues managers can face when hiring outsourced or remote workers, and today we'll provide you with some tips and insight on how to overcome these challenges.

Challenge 1: Communication

How often do people in the same room struggle to understand each other? Now imagine needing to communicate with someone hundreds of miles away. Communication is arguably is the biggest problem when it comes to remote team management.

Even with all the technology that allows us to communicate instantly, team collaboration can be affected negatively by a lack of face-to-face meetings and discussions. Misunderstandings appear more often in emails, rather than in regular dialogue.

Teamwork heavily relies on collaboration, which means that ongoing communication is the foundation of successful project implementation. Correspondence between both the team members that contribute to the software development process (team leaders/product managers) and the customer help to achieve a better understanding of end-user needs.

Solution: Find the best way to stay in touch with your team. It's hard not to find yourself micromanaging your team, so it requires a certain degree of trust between you and the team. Talk through everything and don't leave any details undiscussed with the expectation that someone else will figure out it.

Communication is key to a thriving work environment for any team, independent of being remote or not. Finding the right balance of clear communication with concise information is essential to making sure that you're creating a productive work environment. The more time you invest in communicating with your team throughout the project, the better your results will be, which will also serve you better in future projects.

Challenge 2: Training and Onboarding

Hiring new developers to work on your project can be a long and challenging process. When you are working with a remote team, it can be harder for the team members to learn new procedures because they aren't able to watch and learn, unlike their in-house counterparts. 

Getting familiar with the company's practices usually requires some time and guidance. It can be frustrating to rely only on emails or phone calls when you need to onboard new employees. Often new hires will have tons of questions that you will need to answer. Currently, digital communication is not an ideal option for the onboarding process.

Solution: Creating documentation and guidelines for all of the processes in the company can do wonders when onboarding new developers. There will always be questions, but you need to be able to provide as much information as possible to save everyone some time.

When it comes to remote teams, creating a foundation based on clarity and understanding will benefit your organization in the long-run.

When onboarding a new team member, the team lead should always make sure that the newcomer understands their role, expectations, and general company policies and procedures. 

It often happens that, upon joining a new company, people are initially only familiar with their direct manager and HR representative and might feel insecure about reaching out to others in the company for advice or if something is needed. If such a thing even occurs in your organization, it's worth questioning the quality of your culture and making the necessary improvements to facilitate communication and collaboration between employees.

Challenge 3: Company culture

Having a well-established culture is an indisputable advantage in business. When people believe in what they are doing, and feel united over a mutual cause, they tend to show better results and increased performance.

For the companies that have remote employees, creating and maintaining company culture can become a little tricky. Without the physical presence, management can find it hard to get the company ideas across to the remote teams, and, as a result, they may experience a significant drop in motivation and momentum.

Professionals who are actively involved in the company life feel more appreciated and valued, which helps them to associate themselves with the company more and transit from "working for a company" to "being a part of something greater." Ideally, you want to create employee advocacy that can also benefit the company's reputation.

Solution: Involve remote employees using creative means to connect them and facilitate team building. Maintaining constant contact and including them in the decision-making process can help to establish a trustworthy and inclusive environment that will help team members to feel more like a part of the company even though they are working remotely.

Making an effort to create activities and causes that will interest remote software engineers in taking part can be incredibly beneficial in the long run, not only increasing productivity but also lifting the team’s morale and creating real momentum. 

Conclusion

Managing a remote team can be challenging. New systems and workflows need time to implement, so you'll need to be prepared for that. Even if you have created a plan on how to manage a remote team, there may still be challenges in the beginning. Being open to changes, constructive criticism, and trusting your team can help you find the optimal solution as well as the best way to manage it. You can read more about the seven problems of remote management here.

Creating trust between managers and remote teams can be much harder, given that in-person meetings aren't possible. Just as you need to trust the team, the team needs trust you and know that they can always come to you if there are obstacles.

As a fully remote company, Trio knows about the challenges of remote team management firsthand. Over the years, we've perfected our daily operations and procedures to minimize the risks of miscommunication and software engineers feeling left out once they join Trio. As a result, we have a fantastic team of software engineering professionals who have years of collaborative experience with each other and are driven by the work that we do to create excellent products for our clients.

Managing a remote team doesn't have to be complicated. At Trio, we help small and mid-sized companies to develop custom software by providing them with software engineering teams on demand. By handling all of the processes of selection and hiring, we strive to help you build solid software engineering teams that match your company's needs. Do you want to know more about working with Trio? Tell us about your project.

Daniel Alcanja

CTO

About

Co-Founder & CTO of Trio. With more than 17 years of programming experience

Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the challenges of managing remote teams?

The most common challenges are communication, training and onboarding, company culture.

How do you overcome team challenges?

Managing a remote team can be challenging but can benefit a company immensely it takes a lot of patience, practice, and time to work out the best practices. New systems and workflow need time for implementation, so you’ll need to be prepared that, even if you have created a plan on how to manage a remote team, there may still be challenges in the beginning. Being open to changes, constructive criticism, and trusting your team can help you find the optimal solution and the best way to manage it.