How to Manage a Remote Team: A Complete Guide
In recent months – due to growing health concerns in conjunction with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic – phrases like ‘remote work’ and ‘work from home’ have dominated the subject matter of casual conversations.
While nearly 80% of employees have always expressed the desire to work from home for at least part of the workweek, only about a tenth of workers in the United States actually do so.
It is only when stay-at-home orders first went into effect around mid-March employers truly encouraged and/or plainly required their employees to work from home. Now, about a third of Americans are working from home.
Many companies are adapting entire teams to a remote model of work and hoping the best. Just as many businesses have relied on remote work for the better part of their existence and were fortunate to be prepared for what lied ahead.
Whether you are new to remote work or quite familiar with the concept, knowing how to manage remote teams should be one of your main priorities. So, stay with us to learn more about how to manage a remote team in your company!
What Are the Advantages of Working With Remote Teams?
Though managing remote teams may at first be difficult, there are no doubt many advantages to having a remote team.
For a number of reasons, remote work can be beneficial to both you and your workers. Such as:
Working remotely allows businesses and workers to be flexible with their workspaces.
With a remote team, a company can save significant costs on travel, infrastructure, and any onsite services.
It is estimated that a remote worker saves up to $11,000 a year just by telecommuting for half of their total hours.
Despite rumors of employees slacking off at home, remote work leads to increased productivity.
Compared to office workers, remote teams are approximately 40% more productive, with an increased output to add. In the same vein, remote teams see better quality in their work overall.
The flexibility of remote work is widely coveted. Research on the topic found that 42% of surveyed employees noted that they would take a salary cut in favor of more flexible work.
Even with high unemployment rates terrorizing those between the ages of 18-34, they were still willing to reduce their salaries by 10% in order to work remotely.
These days staying green is an important consideration both for the planet and companies who pride themselves on their reputation.
Remote work helps the environment tremendously by reducing the carbon footprint usually associated with business development of all kinds. Just by not commuting to work, remote teams can prevent several million tons of greenhouse gases from breaking into the atmosphere.
Though working is a must, working at work is not. Especially in the technology industry, you almost always have the option to work from home.
Your capacity to manage remote teams directly fuels the autonomy of your workers, leading to more work being done and greater satisfaction all across the board. In the process, you will also be saving the planet as well as your budget.
What Are the Biggest Challenges of Managing a Remote Team?
Though most people prefer to work from home, managing remote teams still comes with some challenges.
In theory, remote work should be as simple as re-locating your work to a home laptop.
But in actuality, home environments can present some adversities when it comes to workers managing themselves and in turn your capacity to manage your remote team.
Face-to-face interactions from managers to employees in an office space might involve daily check-ups and constant exchanges between one another.
If you want to manage a remote team, you must make sure to give them the space they need to do their work effectively.
By doing this, you will have to trust that your employees work just as hard in lieu of direct monitoring.
Those managing remote teams have noted these concerns often; in reality, evidence shows that remote workers can be even more productive than their counterparts.
Given the remote environment, your employees have to work quite independently. The result of this is less contact with other coworkers and the inside information that they can usually offer.
There are many examples of how team efforts have been successful in a remote environment.
At the same time, there is a lack of mutual understanding between coworkers, whether that understanding is related to work affairs or personal troubles.
When there is less contact, there is more alienation. Social isolation is not unheard of in the remote world.
Many people use work as their primary initiative to interact and socialize with others. This is not to say that people are unable to make friends outside of work but that work is a big part of everyday life.
Managing remote teams should not be limited to executive performance. You have a responsibility to help build social relationships as well.
Related read: What you need to know about cybersecurity in remote work
Largely because of the home workspace, many remote workers struggle to compartmentalize their home lives from their work lives.
Parents with young children especially may use remote work as an opportunity to care for their children at home. Frankly, this does not result in the best outcomes.
Those who endeavor to manage remote teams should warn their employees to have appropriate childcare in place as well as an optimal workspace that is advantageous to their productivity.
In other scenarios, remote employees become bored. Without social interaction, they may seek out other distractions to quell their boredom. This can include scrolling through social media or watching television outside of breaks.
It’s a good idea when managing remote teams to offer advice on staying focused.
Altogether, in spite of the desirable characteristics of remote work, there are drawbacks that should be accounted for. Managers who oversee remote teams should be acquainted with these challenges and be creative in alleviating them.
What Is the Role of the Manager for Remote Teams?
To manage a remote team, you need a thorough comprehension of your role as manager.
The job title of manager is reserved for those who can lead and/or guide the teams they manage to do their best work, and efficiently at that.
Essentially, your objective is to be a direct contributor to the ongoing function of your company.
With remote work, you want to make certain operations run parallel to how they would in an onsite team.
For example, meetings tend to be a crucial element of how businesses operate. As the manager of a remote team, one of the many pivotal roles you have is to find a way in which an effective means of communication can be facilitated virtually.
Using remote work tools for chat and video would ensure a platform where important company matters can be discussed.
A synchronized calendar would also be helpful in organizing your remote team around deadlines, vacations, meetings, or group activities.
Similarly important is an online document management system or digital organization tool to gather all the team’s work.
How to Motivate a Remote Team?
Keeping employees on task is another duty of a remote team manager. But more than mere performance, managing a remote team involves keeping employees motivated.
Possessing strong communication skills is pertinent. Managing remote teams entails being the chief liaison between your employees and a well-done finished project. Be clear about project requests and details.
And though remote schedules may be a bit more flexible, you should check-in with your employees about the status of your project. Employees work most aptly when they know what needs to be done.
Given that your team works well, give positive feedback. Employees want to feel recognized for their work and a little gratitude never goes too far, Something as small as an email expressing thanks is all that’s needed.
Perks and benefits are another way to garner enthused interest from remote employees.
Even if remote employees are at home, benefits like a vacation time help employees know that you prioritize their wellbeing.
Altogether, remote employees feel the most motivated when they are being treated in accordance with reasonable expectations. Think of their needs as your own.
8 Best Practices to Manage a Remote Team
Of course, managing remote teams will look a little different for each company depending on your specific business goals and the people you choose to employ.
That said, there are basic guidelines for managing any remote teams. Below are eight best practices for managing remote teams.
1. Use Tools to Improve Communication
Relying on remote work tools to manage your team can enhance communication between you and your employees for the better.
There are a couple of go-to tools that every remote manager should know:
- Slack: Slack is more or less a virtual office. It offers channels to categorize different work-related content, a feed, and instant messaging.
- Zoom: Zoom is a tool for video chatting. Many find Zoom to be the most reliable for conferences as it works best for large meeting groups.
- GitHub: Most software developers are more than likely familiar with GitHub. Formally called a repository, it stores programming projects and allows users to pull and push changes, in effect saving new code.
2. Incentivize Daily Talks
This goes hand-in-hand with checking in with your remote team. Management requires a constructive relationship with the people you are working with.
Make sure your employees feel comfortable talking to you about any problems that arrive and that their anxieties are relieved following a talk.
3. Manage Expectations on Both Sides
Putting yourself in your employees’ shoes is a useful way to manage your expectations.
Have a realistic idea of what you can expect from your remote team and when you can expect it.
Hold yourself accountable too. Your employees should have their own expectations related to your role and it is up to you to deliver them.
4. Create a Culture of Outcomes and Accountability
After building expectations, manage them by defining standards for your team.
Examples of relevant standards are deliverables, or the results you want from the project, or the scope of the project, which relates to goal-setting.
5. Establish Clear and Direct Goals
Goal-setting is key to being triumphant in the workplace. A 2015 study showed that those who wrote down their goals were 33% more successful than those who did not.
Strong and intentional goals have a substantial impact on growing businesses.
Utilize SMART or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based goals to hone in on your goal-making.
6. Promote Social Interactions
Developing a rapport with those you work with is considered to be a worthwhile adjustment.
Part of developing rapport is associating with coworkers and other employees on a social level in addition to the context of the workplace.
You can arrange gatherings and light-hearted activities for team-building purposes, like online group-based games or icebreakers.
Being truly collaborative in this way strengthens engagement between yourself and the employees working together as a unit.
Companies with high engagement make twice as much annual revenue as companies with little to no engagement.
7. Automate Tasks Whenever Possible
It goes without saying that automation speeds up the workflow. There are a number of tasks that can be automatized to make managing remote teams easier for you.
For instance, with Slack you can set auto-reminders for your remote workers and manage Google Calendar events in a database.
8. Offer Your Teams Ways to Avoid Distractions
Managing remote teams also makes you the task manager. Give tips to your remote team to help them work faster and with fewer distractions. Taking breaks is one thing, but there is a limit.
Pomodoro timers are a method of staying proactive via 25-minute working blocks divided by short break times.
You can also advise your remote team to put their phone on silent to avoid responding to messages and notifications immediately.
Keeping these best practices in mind, you can capitalize on the advantages of remote work and mitigate the disadvantages.
With proficient management skills, you can manage your remote team to work towards your business goals.
Every business model has its pros and cons. But given their trendiness, it might be worth it to give remote teams a try.
Remote work has many pros including work flexibility, financial savviness, and environmental preservation.
The cons of remote work include dealing with distractions and social isolation. However, these can be placated with a capable remote team manager.
Fortunately, Trio has the resources you need to hire a remote team of developers to help your company thrive. We can guarantee that your deadlines will be met and well-received.
Take a look at how you can hire a remote developer now.