Managing a remote team is very different from managing them in-house. The lines of communication are not the same, the potential for people feeling left out is ever-present and ensuring high-performance is totally different too.
To help out managers of remote teams, here are 5 tips to review.
1. Create Bonds with the Team
What’s significant with remote workers is that they feel like part of the team. It’s been found that roughly two-thirds haven’t had a session of team building with their current employer. While employees may regularly dismiss the benefits of getting together as a group, it does play a meaningful part in successful group thinking and dynamics. That doesn’t change just because people are remote workers.
There are different ways of creating meaningful bonds between the office and the remote team. This might include a group chat on a video app like Zoom to let people chat together as a group in an open format. Showing genuine interest in team members also matters to people. This doesn’t have to get overly personal, but going beyond just touching base is important.
2. Use Appropriate Communication Tools Each Time
There are predominantly text-based tools – they may include extra image, video, or video call features – to discuss matters one-on-one. Apps like Skype, Slack or Messenger come to mind here.
Getting on a video call between two colleagues might be practical using Skype. However, if several other people may join the video call later, then group video conferencing tools are better. Again, Zoom is currently popular for this purpose.
Ultimately, when it’s either a sensitive conversion or one where seeing the facial expressions and body language is likely to be beneficial (either for you or for them), then video calls are a better medium. It also avoids misunderstandings that are sometimes derived purely from text-based conversations.
3. Have Employee Information Readily to Hand
Sometimes, information is stored in Outlook that would be better used elsewhere. When talking with remote workers about their hours, it helps to have their timesheets up on the screen. It shows as a manager that you’re connected to the workers and are in the know.
Employee information is better visualized when it’s in Excel instead of Outlook. Thankfully, to help with exporting your Outlook calendar, TimeTackle has a solution for that. The spreadsheet can then be augmented with other useful bits of relevant information too.
4. Switch to Bite-size Projects
The more complex a project becomes, the easier it is for details to get confused. It becomes more difficult to clear up any confusion when someone is working remotely.
Breaking projects down into bite-size chunks with the specifics listed point-by-point proves to be clearer for everyone. While the work may be complicated, the instructions must have clarity behind them. Otherwise, time is lost re-explaining what needs to be done or because of an unnecessary do-over.
5. Factor in Unknown Challenges
Performance from a remote worker may decline from time to time. Few employees are truly consistent in their work – they all have off-days – but this is accounted for when someone knows the root cause of it. Perhaps they’re upset because a relative recently passed away, their young child is sick at home, or for some other reason.
With a remote member of your team, unless you’ve taken the time to bond, you’ll be unaware of outside factors affecting them on their “off-day.” Before reacting to a decline in performance, it’s a good idea to check in with them. Maybe there is an explanation for their emails being a little terse today or causing them to be less patient than normal.
Learning to manage remote teams better is a process. The newer it is, the greater amount of time is required to iron out the kinks for smoother running.