In today's digital age, remote working has become increasingly commonplace for businesses around the world. With advances in technology and the ever-changing nature of work, managing a remote team has become not only possible, but beneficial for many organisations.
However, managing a remote team comes with its own unique set of challenges. Without the opportunity for face-to-face interaction and physical presence, it is crucial to find alternative ways to foster strong communication, collaboration and team cohesion.
To help organisations navigate the nuances of effectively managing a remote team, we have compiled a list of essential tips. These tips, when implemented, will help promote productivity, engagement, and teamwork within your remote team:
- Make up for the lack of face-to-face interaction: In a remote team, you need to find ways to replace the natural bumping into each other that happens in an office environment. This can be done through regular communication channels and virtual water cooler chats.
- Maintain a virtual water cooler chat: Keep a chat room open where team members can have casual conversations, just like they would around the office water cooler. This helps create a sense of community and allows for more profound insights into each other's lives.
- Avoid email and chat overload: Remote companies tend to have a higher volume of email and chat messages, which can lead to overload. Encourage employees to turn off their chat and email alerts outside of work hours to prevent burnout and promote work-life balance.
- Prioritise communication channels: Video is the most important form of communication, followed by audio, chat, and email. Use video calls as much as possible to ensure clear and efficient communication.
- Use visualisation tools to communicate effectively: If a video call is not possible, use tools such as Capture to take a screenshot of what needs to be done. This will help to provide clear instructions and avoid miscommunication.
- Emphasise video conferencing technology: Video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom, or Google Hangouts are essential for virtual teams. They improve communication and allow for more information-rich interactions.
- Establish a meeting rhythm: Set up daily, weekly or fortnightly meetings with clear goals and KPIs (key performance indicators). These meetings keep everyone focused, accountable and aligned with the team's goals.
- Collaborate effectively on documents and spreadsheets: Use cloud-based collaboration tools such as Google Apps, Apple's alternatives or Microsoft's version to ensure seamless editing, version control and real-time collaboration.
- Implement a project management system: Choose a project management tool such as Asana, Basecamp, or Jira to keep track of tasks, deadlines, and progress. Use the system consistently to document and coordinate work across the team.
- Establish systems and processes: Create standardised processes for tasks and projects to ensure consistency and efficiency. This is critical for remote teams, as communication can be more challenging than in local organisations.
- Allow flexible working hours: Allow people to work when they are most productive, as long as there is consistency in meeting times and reporting. Focus on results and efficiency rather than strict working hours.
- Pay virtual team members well: When recruiting from developing countries, offer competitive salaries that are above the local market rate. This will improve loyalty and motivation among team members, resulting in higher productivity.
- Hire the right people for virtual work: Look for people who are detail-oriented, independent and comfortable working alone. Virtual work requires self-motivation and the ability to work without constant supervision.
- Create overlapping hot zones of communication time: Organise meetings at different times to accommodate different time zones. This ensures that everyone has the opportunity to participate and fosters a sense of community.
- Conduct quarterly reviews: Conduct 360-degree reviews to gather feedback from teammates, managers and self-assessments. This provides insight into individual performance and areas for improvement.
- Conduct effective remote team retreats: Organise annual or periodic team retreats where remote team members can meet face-to-face. This strengthens relationships, builds trust and fosters a sense of community.
- Emphasise the importance of continuous learning and improvement: Encourage employees to continually develop their skills and knowledge. Provide opportunities for training, certification, and career progression within the remote team.
It's important to remember that managing a remote team requires adaptability, flexibility, and a willingness to embrace technology and innovative solutions. With the right strategies in place, organisations can create a cohesive and productive remote workforce.