Remote work is an ever-growing trend in the workplace with its benefits taking center stage. Many entrepreneurs, employees, and businesses of all kinds are adopting a remote work model due to its flexibility and work-life balance. Remote work, however, presents unique challenges for managers when compared to traditional office settings. Remote management, including communication, productivity, teamwork, and employee well-being, requires careful planning and management to build trust, accountability, and a strong sense of community among remote teams.
This long-form blog post will explore in great detail the proven methods and strategies that managers can employ to successfully manage remote teams. The post will expand on the seven points highlighted in the introductory section of communication, result-orientation, creating a virtual shared space, empowering and supporting your team, setting working hours and boundaries, prioritizing employee well-being, and encouraging team-building activities. The expanded section, covering each of these points in detail, will provide better insight into how, when employed together, these strategies can create an environment where remote teams thrive.
One of the most significant challenges for remote teams is maintaining a high level of communication. When team members are not physically present in the same space, communication can quickly break down, leading to misunderstandings and miscommunication that will affect productivity and quality of work. Therefore, establishing a clear communication plan that outlines the preferred channels of communication and expected response times is essential.
The communication plan should indicate the types of communication tools that team members will use, from email to video conferencing to chat software, and emphasize their frequency of use. Many communication tools support real-time collaboration, which can foster a sense of community among team members. As a manager, it is important to establish regular check-ins with your team members, which should occur daily or weekly, depending on the work requirements. These check-ins can be formalized and scheduled such as a daily video call at a set time or informal and spontaneous, depending on the needs of the team members.
Additionally, managers should emphasize the importance of clear communication channels when it comes to feedback, including both positive and constructive feedback. Employees need to know what they are doing well and where they need to improve, leading to tangible benefits such as increased motivation and better-quality work output.
One of the most significant advantages of remote work is the ability to focus on outcomes and not process. Remote teams tend to be more results-oriented than on-site teams as managers cannot see remote team members working in real-time. However, managing the outcome of remote team work can be challenging.
Managers should establish clear goals for each team member and unit that relate to the overall company objectives. It is essential to emphasize the importance of meeting these goals and how each team member’s work contributes to the team’s success. When teams are focused on outcomes, they may be more productive as each team member understands their role in delivering the final product. Additionally, when team members understand how their work matters to the company’s success, they may become more innovative, satisfied with their work, and motivated to perform.
Creating a Virtual Shared Space
Remote work can feel lonely and disconnected, lacking the personal interactions common in physical offices, leading to low team morale and motivation. Therefore, creating a virtual shared space where remote team members can engage, share ideas, and work together is essential.
A virtual shared space can be any platform that the team decides to use, including chat rooms, video conferencing software such as Zoom or Google Meet, or project management software such as Asana or Trello. This shared space should be open to all team members, fostering a sense of community and collaboration where team members can share ideas, and seek support.
When creating a virtual shared space, be proactive in making sure that team members can easily access and navigate the platform. For instance, guidelines on how to use the communication tools should be provided to remote team members, emphasizing the expected level of participation and the types of conversations that should occur.
Empowering and Supporting Your Team
Remote teams require autonomy, compared to traditional office settings where day-to-day management is more visible. Therefore, managers should provide their remote team members with the tools and support needed to deliver quality work that meets expectations. Empowering remote team members is essential to establishing trust, accountability, and a strong sense of community among remote teams.
One way to empower your team is to set clear performance expectations and objectives that align with the company’s overall goals. Employees must understand what is expected of them, and how their performance will be evaluated. It may be useful to establish regular performance reviews that ensure employees are on track, may require further support to achieve their objectives, and to celebrate successes.
To support remote team members, managers need to be available for their employees when they need assistance or guidance, but also empower team members to find solutions to problems independently. Teams should also be provided with the necessary resources, tools, and equipment required for their work, ensuring the highest level of productivity and quality.
Managers should also recognize each team member’s contribution proactively, regardless of their position in the company. By creating a sense of inclusion, respect, and trust, managers can foster an atmosphere of innovation, job satisfaction, and deep, meaningful work.
Setting Working Hours and Boundaries
Remote work offers flexibility in scheduling, allowing work to be managed around other commitments. However, managers need to emphasize to their teams the importance of setting fixed working hours to maintain a work-life balance. The flexibility that remote work offers can quickly turn into long working hours, contributing to employee burnout.
It is crucial to set defined working hours and boundaries for remote team members, emphasizing that work should not be allowed to intrude on personal time. Managers should also ensure that team members take breaks throughout the day to recharge, have lunch, stretch, rest, or maybe even step outside for fresh air. Working for extended periods without any break can lead to negative effects on productivity.
Prioritizing Employee Well-being
Managing remote teams can be challenging, and managers must prioritize employee well-being. Remote work can feel isolating, leading to stress, anxiety, or even depression. Managers need to prioritize team members’ emotional and cognitive health by checking in regularly, providing access to online counseling, fitness classes, and other wellness programs that support employee well-being.
An open-door policy and an empathetic approach to team members can help reduce the feeling of isolation and a lack of belonging. Managers should be proactive; they need to note signs of stress, anxiety, and burnout and provide support to team members who require it. It is essential to encourage team members to share their feeling and provide them with the necessary support, increasing overall productivity and job satisfaction.
Encouraging Team-Building Activities
Remote work can make it difficult for team members to build relationships and connect on a personal level. Therefore, managers need to be proactive with team-building activities, which foster a sense of community, create a positive corporate culture and drive innovation and productivity.
There are many virtual team-building activities, including virtual book clubs, online team-building games or escape rooms, virtual team lunches, and happy hours. These activities allow team members to get to know each other on a deeper level, outside of work-related interactions, fostering camaraderie and teamwork.
Managing remote teams successfully requires careful planning and management, emphasizing communication, result-orientation, creating a virtual shared space, empowering and supporting your team, setting working hours and boundaries, prioritizing employee well-being, and encouraging team-building activities. Managers should be proactive when supporting remote teams, establishing open communication channels, fostering an environment of innovation, and inclusion. Building a strong remote team culture requires time, investment, and trust, and when done right, the outcome can be an engaged and productive team that consistently meets and exceeds expectations.