Remote work has become an essential aspect of business operations in the modern world. The implementation of remote work over the past few years saw an increase in employee satisfaction, increased productivity, and a surge in overall employee happiness. In early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of businesses across the globe to shift to remote work much faster than planned. However, the advantages of remote work have been overshadowed by the difficulties of maintaining a connected and supportive team. Remote workers face distinct challenges that differ from in-office work. To thrive in these circumstances, managers must be equipped with the right tools, training, and knowledge.
This article will explain how to manage a remote team effectively at length. We’ll cover various strategies that can help overcome the challenges of remote working and build a supportive and connected team.
The Importance of a Cohesive Team
Managing a remote team requires a manager to take a different approach than managing an office-based team. When working remotely, employees often feel isolated, disconnected, and alone. As such, remote teams need cohesion more than ever before. Cohesion requires understanding the strengths, weaknesses, and preferences of each employee you’re managing. To foster a sense of cohesion, remote team-building activities include virtual happy hours, online brainstorming sessions, games, virtual lunches, and even free online courses as a team. Such activities can break bread between team members and build trust and cohesion.
When all team members feel cohesive, they work better and are more productive. Working on projects as a team is more effective in such an environment. It is, therefore, important to make time for team-building activities whether your remote team is a new one or has been working together for a long time.
Establish Clear Goals and Expectations
In any work environment, it is important to establish clear goals and expectations. If you have purposeful and well-defined goals, you’ll establish an organized working environment that can boost remote team performance. Ensure that each employee’s roles, responsibilities, and deadlines are clearly established from the onset. This will ensure that everyone is working for common goals and the same end result.
The expectation of delivering quality work and meeting deadlines should always be clear. Break down how you want work done in a concise and effective manner. Create a proactive and dynamic process that makes completing tasks easier for the team. Having set goals and expectations makes it easy to keep a remote team accountable.
Foster Communication and Collaboration
Since remote work deprives employees of real-life interactions, communication and collaboration are even more crucial in this case. Promoting an efficient communication network is critical to the success of remote work. All members should know how to use the communication tools to enable consistent communication between remote teams.
Regular meetings of all members through video conferences, online chats and messaging, and feedback sessions should be scheduled to increase team interaction. Technology has made remote work more convenient, with tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, and others enabling employees to communicate and engage in their unique ways.
Team communication issues often arise due to a lack of trust or clarity, which can be significantly improved by establishing regular communication channels. Open and honest communication is vital to ensuring all employees have a clear understanding of their roles, responsibilities, and expectations.
Remote work enables employees to work from anywhere they please, giving them the freedom to explore what works best for them. Allow remote employees to work around their personal schedules as long as they deliver well and on time. Establish work policies that are mindful of how remote employees take on tasks and handle assignments. This flexibility can help soothe tensions caused by restricted work conditions, such as social distancing and the inability to work in a preferred environment.
By being flexible, you can also cater to individual needs, which can improve employee morale and productivity. Employees that can work when they’re most productive tend to be more content and deliver higher quality work in a shorter amount of time.
Managing a remote team requires building trust among the team members. Managers of remote teams must trust that the team can work without physical supervision, as is often the case in traditional office arrangements. Remote work doesn’t provide an adequate platform for micromanagement, so trust is critical.
Trust inspires motivation from the employees and stimulates productive work. Build up a trusting relationship through feedback, transparency in communication, and recognition of exceptional achievements. A good manager will allow remote teams to be independent while providing collaborative support to aid in achieving their set goals.
Remote workers may find it challenging to remain productive and concentrated while working at home, away from the office. The absence of managers and colleagues to keep them in check can prove detrimental to the quality and timeliness of work. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to foster your team’s well-being by providing them with the support they need, such as access to mental health support services, performance coaching, educational resources, and administrative assistance.
It’s a manager’s responsibility to take the initiative to monitor progress, provide constructive feedback and emotional support, and establish open communication channels. Remote workers go through unique challenges, including distractions from family, health challenges, techno-difficulties, and more. By providing support, you’ll increase their focus, speed up delivery times, and enhance their psychological well-being.
Set Expectations for the Team’s Daily Schedule
To handle effectively the schedule of a remote team, establish a universal system that outlines employees’ work hours, project deadlines, and availability on days off. There should be a standardized checklist that emphasizes the importance of taking breaks, attending virtual meetings, and learning opportunities during this time. This helps to create a work-life balance within the remote team and to assign tasks to those who are fit and able.
In addition, establish guidelines on how you want to communicate, how to handle any problems, and how to handle conflicts. By doing so, you’ll help employees prioritize their time, help managers allocate tasks accordingly and keep the timelines in check.
Encourage Growth and Development
Encourage remote employees to keep learning and growing by providing them with opportunities for career development. This makes them stay engaged, up-to-date with the latest trends and developments, and helps them contribute better to the productivity of the remote team. Promote further educational resources that will help employees improve their skill set and contribute to the team’s overall success.
Also, providing feedback and engaging in regular performance appraisals can indicate areas where the employee needs development and where the manager can provide additional support. When employees feel supported and know that there is a plan for their career growth, they are more likely to stay motivated and loyal to the company.
Managing a remote team can prove challenging, but it’s an important part of modern business operations. Cohesion, clear goals, and communication are crucial elements that form the foundation of a supportive and connected team. As a manager, providing support, setting expectations, and encouraging growth and development are essential steps to achieving successful remote work teams. Remote work encourages employees to be innovative and creative in their approaches, enabling them to thrive in a virtual environment. By following these tips and identifying the ones that work best for your team, you can build and manage a successful remote team that is both productive and happy.