Remote work has many benefits, such as increased productivity, a better work-life balance for workers, and lower operations expenses for employers. However, it can be very challenging to manage remote workers effectively.
Competently managing teams through Zoom or other online communication platforms is a common pain point for many managers. It can be very difficult to track productivity and maintain morale when you’re only talking to a screen.
Fortunately, there are ways to make everything easier for employees and management teams alike. This article explores some of the best practices for managing remote teams.
Create a Clear and Concise Vision for the Team
It’s essential to have a clear and concise vision for your team. This is the core of your management strategy and will help ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely (SMART) goals can be broken down into smaller Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that team members can focus on in the short-term and long-term.
With a clear vision of your goals and how to achieve them, you’ll be able to better manage your remote team and take concrete steps to complete every milestone.
Define Roles and Responsibilities for Each Team Member
Defining specific roles and responsibilities clarifies what each team member must achieve daily. When employees know exactly what is expected of them, they are more likely to be productive throughout the work week.
Schedule one-on-one meetings to lay out general and specific responsibilities and use software to keep track of everyone’s progress. Make sure that these roles align with the goals that you have previously set for your team.
Communicate Regularly With Team Members
Keep your remote team members engaged and motivated through regular communication. This means more than just sending them a weekly email update; you should also make an effort to connect with them on a personal level.
One way to do this is to set up regular video or audio calls, even if it’s just for a quick catch-up. You can also use social media to stay in touch and share news and updates.
Whatever method you choose, make sure you are consistent with your communication, so everyone feels like they are contributing to the team’s goals.
Provide Feedback and Support to Team Members
Providing feedback and support to remote team members is crucial, so they feel valued and appreciated. This will also help you recognize when your team members are showing signs of stress, dissatisfaction, and low morale.
Feedback and support will help build trust and mutual respect between team members, ultimately leading to a more productive and cohesive team.
Managers can provide feedback and support to team members who are not in the same physical location through the following:
1. Schedule Regular Check-ins
Whether you check in weekly, biweekly, or monthly, touch base with each team member on a regular basis. This will give you a chance to see how they are doing and determine what support they need to remain happy and productive.
Use open-ended questions, like the ones below, to get more information about what they are doing or feeling, for example:
- How do you…?
- What can we… ?
- What do you think…?
- What do you think are the best/worst case scenarios?
- What does the timeline look like?
- What do you need?
- How can I help you
2. Always Be Available for Questions and Concerns
Let your team know they can reach out to you with any questions or concerns. Make yourself available via email, chat, or video conference to answer their questions and address any concerns.
This is especially important for your new team members who will need more support and guidance in the first few months joining the company.
3. Give Feedback Regularly
Provide specific and actionable feedback on each team member’s performance regularly. Encouraging your team members with constructive criticism and personalized support will help them focus on what they can do to improve their performance.
Focus on the Output, Not the Process
When employees are in the same office, it is easy to see how they are working and to provide feedback and guidance if necessary. But when employees work remotely, it can be more challenging to monitor their progress and give them the support they need.
It can be easy to get caught up in the details of how employees are working rather than what they’re actually accomplishing. The key is to trust your team and give them the freedom to work in the way they think is best.
Of course, you will still need to set goals and deadlines, but focusing on the results you want to achieve instead of micromanaging each step your employees take is one way of building employee trust.
As long as your team is getting the work done within the deadline, it shouldn’t matter too much how or when they are doing it.
Maintain Clear Boundaries When Working Remotely
When you work remotely, it can be difficult to create clear boundaries between work life and personal life. This can lead to burnout, a condition characterized by physical and emotional exhaustion.
Ask your team members to set up a dedicated workspace in their homes that is separate from the rest of their living space. This will help them mentally transition into work mode when they sit in their workspace.
Encourage your team members to set a daily work schedule, too. This will help them develop a productive routine and avoid working long hours. Finally, mandate break periods during the day so they won’t sit at their desk for extended periods. Managers can help protect the mental health of their employees with these simple strategies. Maintaining a healthy work-life balance when working remotely is a goal businesses should want to achieve if they want to keep their employees productive and happy
The Workplace is Changing
Many businesses are now experiencing a profound transformation of the workplace, thanks to the internet, social media, and even the global challenge that was the COVID-19 pandemic. Managing teams remotely is one byproduct of these changes, and employers must adjust their processes and mindsets to meet business goals while retaining talent.
There must be a foundation of trust between staff and management. While technology makes it possible to manage people remotely, it is only a tool for communicating ideas. Building strong bonds between teams and leaders still requires a ton of effort and techniques to ensure clear lines of communication.
Leaders must understand that managing employees is more than ensuring everyone is doing their work, and employee well-being doesn’t end with basic benefits. It’s about helping people grow and maintain a healthy attitude towards work and life. And in a remote working environment, the core of that is trust.
Trust is possible if you provide clarity, transparency, and support to your staff. Once that trust is built within your team structure, remote workers will remain motivated to achieve the company’s objectives and goals.