The modern workplace has seen an immense transformation in the last few decades with the advent of technology. Organizations are no longer restricted to a centralized location, and remote work has become an essential part of the modern workplace. Remote work has been popularized due to the increasing globalization of businesses and advancements in technology. With the current coronavirus pandemic still taking a toll globally, working remotely is now more popular than ever. Remote work offers numerous benefits including increased productivity, reduced overhead costs, and the ability to hire global talent. However, managing a remote team can be a challenge. Here are some tips for employers to consider while managing remote teams.
Effective communication is the foundation of managing remote teams. Remote employees may feel disconnected and isolated from the office culture, so building trust and keeping open communication channels is essential. Establish communication protocols such as regular check-ins via video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype. Communication should be clear to ensure that everyone understands work timelines, project progress, and objectives.
Without proper communication, misunderstandings may occur, and important information may be missed, resulting in unnecessary mistakes and delays. Ensure that there are adequate communication channels in place for remote workers to express their concerns, and receive any feedback about their work. Encourage team members to have open communication among themselves to improve team dynamics.
Moreover, encourage the use of instant messaging and collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts. This fosters day-to-day communication among team members and provides a platform for sharing information, training materials, and documentation. By establishing reliable communication and collaboration channels, remote employees can work together efficiently and effectively as a team.
Provide Clear Expectations
Remote employees may face more distractions due to working from home, such as family interruptions or household chores. Hence, it can be challenging to understand what is expected of each team member while working remotely. Clear expectations can help reduce confusion and help team members be more productive.
Set clear expectations for deliverables, deadlines, and project milestones. Everyone should understand what is expected from them and what timelines they have to work under. Establish measurable KPIs to evaluate team member progress and provide regular feedback on their work to help improve their performance.
In a remote-working set-up, it is essential to establish accountability. From setting deadlines to tracking progress, both employees and managers must be clear about their responsibilities. It’s essential for managers to ensure that deadlines are realistic and achievable, and provide any necessary guidance for employees to accomplish their tasks.
Build the Right Team
Building the right team is essential to the success of a remote team. While skills and experience are important, it’s essential to look beyond the traditional lens while building the team. Find people who are self-motivated, responsible, and who can work independently.
Hiring team members who support remote work culture and are committed to making it work is paramount. It is essential to look beyond the traditional way of hiring for the sake of diversity as it helps to build a more inclusive work environment.
Moreover, when building a remote team, one must aim for cultural fit instead of just looking at someone’s technical expertise. While hard skills can be trained on the job, cultural alignment holds the utmost importance. Hiring team members who share common values and intentions with the company helps to build a dedicated and motivated team.
Provide Accessible Tools
Remote employees need access to the tools, software, and hardware required to perform their jobs. As the majority of the work is done virtually, having access to these tools is essential to optimize productivity.
Cloud-based tools like G-suite, Microsoft Teams, Asana, or Trello can help remote employees collaborate effectively on projects. Video conferencing tools ensure that employees are able to participate in virtual meetings, catch up with colleagues and communicate face-to-face. Investing in the right technology that enables remote employees to work efficiently and effectively is essential.
Moreover, providing support for hardware and software requirements such as laptops, tablet, and smartphones is vital. It is also helpful to set-up training sessions for team members to become proficient in using new tools and software.
Trust is a crucial element in successfully managing remote teams. When working remotely, managers don’t have the luxury of micromanaging their employees. Rather, building trust and giving autonomy inspires confidence in both the employee and the remote team.
Building trust can be achieved by setting goals and empowering team members to achieve those goals on their own. Trust is also built by keeping open communication channels and providing regular feedback. Holding remote workers accountable for their work helps to build mutual trust.
Moreover, remote work requires a higher degree of trust than traditional office setups. This necessitates managers to have a more hands-off approach to the work and empower their employees to take on additional responsibilities. Ultimately, building trust is essential in ensuring remote employees are happy, productive, and feel valued.
Provide Training & Development
Training and development are essential for remote teams. Without the routine face-to-face interactions that a physical office setup offers, remote teams may miss out on professional development opportunities. Remote workers need to learn new skills to keep up with advances in their field, elevate their performance, and grow their careers.
Investing in online training courses and webinars can help remote employees learn and grow. Encourage team members to take courses or research areas they are interested in, allowing them to develop their professional skills. Moreover, using company resources for training can also help to align team members with the company values and objectives.
By providing adequate training and development opportunities, remote employees can continue to grow and enhance their professional skills, helping them to increase the value they bring to the organization
Build Social Connections
Creating a sense of community within your remote team improves employee satisfaction and productivity. When working remotely, it can be easy to feel isolated or disconnected from colleagues, leading to burn-out and ultimately less productivity.
Activities that focus on remote team building can combat this sense of isolation. Examples of virtual team-building activities include online trivia games, virtual happy hours, and team competitions. These activities help foster team dynamics and create personal connections that help remote employees feel more connected and supported.
Moreover, encourage remote employees to socialize outside of work-related tasks like chatting, engaging in social media, and attending virtual events. By building social connections among employees, there is a potential for healthy collaboration, generating greater productivity in the long run.
One of the key challenges in remote work is to maintain work-life balance. Remote workers may find themselves working for extended hours, leading to burnout and reduced productivity. Managers must ensure that remote employees maintain healthy boundaries between work and personal life.
Encourage employees to establish a routine, set dedicated working hours, and maintain a separate workspace. By establishing healthy boundaries, remote workers can eliminate distractions and focus on their work-life balance. Also, setting clear expectations about after-hours work communication and emergencies can help to avoid burnout.
Moreover, focusing on employee well-being can help remote employees feel more comfortable and supported. Encourage team members to take breaks, prioritize health and well-being, and avoid unhealthy work habits.
Remote work can be challenging, and employees may face unique challenges related to their remote work environment. Some employees may find it difficult to work from home, especially if there are inadequate working conditions, technical issues, or distractions. Therefore, it is essential to provide support for any issues that may arise.
Giving remote employees access to HR and IT support ensures that technical issues and other challenges are addressed effectively. It’s also essential to provide support for mental health and emotional well-being, as feelings of isolation or stress may arise while working remotely. Providing access to counseling or therapy services can go a long way in ensuring employee well-being.
Celebrate Remote Team Achievements
While working remotely, it’s easy to forget to celebrate wins and accomplishments. However, remote workers deserve recognition for their hard work and contributions. Celebrating remote team achievements fosters a sense of team spirit, camaraderie, and contributes to team motivation.
Creating channels for recognizing and rewarding team members for their work helps motivate them to achieve more. Remote employees should feel valued, appreciated, and part of the team even though they’re not physically in the office.
Remote work offers numerous benefits to businesses, including increased productivity, reduced overhead costs, and access to a global talent pool. However, managing remote teams can present unique challenges. Effective communication, setting clear expectations, and empowering employees to be self-motivated are essential to making remote work productive.
Moreover, providing the right tools, training, and opportunities for professional development, building trust, and nurturing a sense of community fosters healthy remote team dynamics. Embracing remote work culture also engages employees in a more inclusive workplace. By following these tips, organizations can successfully manage their remote teams and establish a productive work environment.