Remote employees are on the rise. For some, this might be a temporary change in response to the Novel Coronavirus. Other's the increase in remote workers is an ongoing shift in direction, reaching for the advantages of a remote team.
Regardless of your reason to utilize remote teams, you'll need to prepare for the challenges that come with managing a remote team.
The Benefits of a Remote Team
There're many benefits that come with utilizing our ability to have remote teams.
The flexibility that comes with remote working often allows for a more personally tailored work-life balance that improves overall job satisfaction. This flexibility sees engagement, motivation, and satisfaction increase 64%, 65% and 73% of the time, respectively.
Studies show 45% of workers were able to increase productivity, doing more in less time. The same studies noted 90% of the managers noticed an increase in productivity when their remote workers were allowed flexibility.
Remote work also opens the door for an increase in transparent communication. While many may think it's the opposite, remote working doesn't succeed without it. Plus, you can more quickly identify problems with communication without the distraction of daily workplace nuances.
Additionally, remote teams can give managers greater access to higher levels of talent since the talent pool isn't limited to the local area.
The Challenges You Face
However, you can't ignore the challenges you'll face and will need to navigate them before you can reach any real benefits.
For example, it can be more difficult to establish personal connections and trust with employees. Communication methods can be hard to establish, and there's less insight into your team's day-to-day tasks. Ultimately, you'll need to allow time and some experimentation into how to best manage your exact team of employees.
How to Manage Your Remote Team for Success
Set Clear Expectations
Managing remote teams is about breaking down to the basics of good management. When you've multiple people working potentially from around the world, you need clear expectations.
Working remotely can offer individuals with flexibility. This is a huge benefit. However, this isn't the time to be nonchalant about what really needs to get done and when. Using a project management service is always helpful.
Focus on Output
Keep in mind, setting clear expectations isn't the same as attempting to enforce and office environment and schedule into each remote workers home. Employees need to feel respected and trusted to do their job.
Thus, instead, you're clear about what benchmarks need to be reached. Then, allow your workers to adapt their schedule to make that happen with their best judgment.
You need to focus on output in order for your remote team to operate successfully. Successful remote team managers may set hours in the day their team needs to be immediately responsive. However, they don't try to manage how long they're at their desk working.
The goal is to accomplish tasks in the time your team agreed upon. It doesn't matter if they worked 9-5 or 11-3 during the workday to get it done.
Create Easy to Use Channels of Communication
When you're used to popping into an office asking questions or gathering in the conference room, the shift to remote working can be hard. Or rather, it WILL be hard.
One of the greatest challenges you'll face is establishing consistent and clear communication. Zoom and Google Hangouts are both great tools for face to face meetings and screen sharing. And there are many more different methods for group chats, shared project management tools, and more.
Don't Over Do It
The problem that can happen with remote teams is there are actually too many modes of communication. Thus, if someone thinks your notes will come in an email, but it's in a chat group, it can easily be missed.
Take a look at the different options and decide on what you'll be using as a team. The input of your remote workers is invaluable. Make transitions slowly if something isn't working and not until everyone understands the new method.
Again, this is about being clear in your expectations to ensure you're keeping everyone on the same page.
Remember, you won't be able to actually see your team's workload the same as if you were all in the office together. You might know what your team is working on, but it can be easy to underestimate what kind of workload that turns into.
So, make time to check in with your team members one on one, preferably in a face to face call. You're not looking to ensure they're doing their work, but rather you're making sure no team member is overworked or over-committed.
These kinds of check-ins foster open communication. It also allows you to better evaluate any adjustments needed or how realistic your team objectives are in the given timeline.
A Remote Leadership Team
Just like a brick-and-motor office space, you'll need to have leadership teams. In large companies - especially those temporarily moving to remote teams due to the current climate - it's vital you establish a leadership team. The core of this team is to identify any concerns, prioritize the challenges, and then designate who'll work to rectify the issue.
You might feel overwhelmed when you begin to manage a remote team for the first time. When it comes down to it, managing a remote team simply means getting really really good at management fundamentals. Establish clear goals, engaging meetings, clear communication, and leveraging strengths are at the forefront of remote team success.
Don't be afraid to reach out when the task remains daunting. Even before the Novel Coronavirus, StellaPop's been working with companies in management consulting driving towards success.