Maintaining long-distance relationships can pose a challenge in our personal and professional lives. The task can be even more daunting if you are in charge of a team.
In this article, we’ll review seven best practices of remote team management. But to fully understand these strategies, we need to learn the basics.
What Is Remote Work?
Working remotely means not working in a physical office together with your workmates. It could also be called “work-from-home.”
However, working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean working at home. You can work anywhere you want to, just as long as you can do your tasks effectively.
There are a lot of mixed reactions when we say “remote work.” Some managers love it, while others think it negatively affects productivity.
On that note, here are five of the most prominent challenges managers face with remote work.
Challenges Of Remote Work
If you manage a remote team, anything can go wrong, and you can’t be there personally to assess and work out the situation. Before creating your team, consider the following:
- Hiring the right people: You can hire people worldwide. With so many options, hiring the right people can be difficult.
- Time Zones: Hiring globally can be challenging due to time zone differences. Scheduling your team’s hours should be considered carefully to ensure productivity.
- Unclear tasks: Your remote team is set for failure if you don’t delegate tasks. This should be looked into right at the start of the onboarding process.
- Tracking key performance indicators: Tracking your team’s performance can be tricky since you’re not with them. The right tools can help with this issue.
- Lack of cohesion within the team: A lack of cohesiveness creates communication, distrust, and coordination issues.
Remote Work Best Practices
Working remotely has its setbacks. However, applying the following best practices ensures these issues are resolved quickly.
Set clear ground rules.
You can’t monitor your remote team as effectively compared to an in-house setting. Your remote team can pretty much do whatever they want with their time.
Setting clear ground rules establishes the type of working environment your team expects. Some examples of ground rules include:
- Team members must join meetings on time.
- After highlighting an issue, you need to offer a solution.
- Everyone must join the scheduled weekly meetings.
- Virtual meetings are limited to 1 hour.
- You must inform management if you can’t work on a particular day.
You can find the right communication channel.
Setting ground rules is only effective when you have the proper communication channels. Your tools must be accessible intuitive, and help optimize your team’s communication. Double-check with your team if you can use your home phone service or other phone systems if you need to use a company-provided communication channel.
You have email, messaging, video conferencing, and more. There are tons of available tools online you can use for these channels. Famous examples are Slack and Gomada.
Conduct Virtual Team Building Activities
Team building helps your team become more cohesive. However, since you’re working remotely, you’ll be limited to conducting virtual team-building activities.
These activities can get your team to know each other better, encourage collaboration, and improve communication. Here are some actions you can try:
- Ridiculous Debates: Split your remote team into two groups—pros and cons. Each group has to debate a ridiculous topic like “Who would win? A Moose or a Camel?”.
- Mad Libs: This is a classic game that many people played in childhood. Have your team make up a story; each has to add a word until it’s finished.
- Trivia & Quizzes: Creating a trivia or quiz can show your team’s competitive side. You can split your team into smaller groups so they can help each other out.
Set clear expectations
Setting well-defined and realistic expectations can be challenging for both remote and in-house. You can start by defining a project’s scope, delegating tasks to members, and setting due dates.
Managers can also set clear expectations for the standard quality of deliverables. More importantly, you must select a clear goal everyone should strive for.
Could you schedule a consistent 1:1 meeting with your team?
Working in an office setting allows you to communicate with your team at a personal level. You can catch up about your lives outside of work, hang out, and more.
These are often lost in a virtual and remote working environment. That’s why scheduling a 1:1 meeting consistently with your team members is essential. Some of the benefits of 1:1 include:
- Improve performance
- Drive development
- Build trust
- Increase team agility
According to a study from Gallop, team members who consistently have 1:1 meetings with managers are three times more likely to be engaged at work.
Make yourself approachable
Instead of striking fear to keep your remote team in line, I want you to be approachable. This will make your 1:1 meetings more effective, conversational, and authentic.
Remote managers need to be pillars of support for their teams. But holding yourself and your team members accountable is also essential.
Prioritize onboarding for new team members.
Statistics from Click Onboarding suggest that 69% of employees will likely stay in a company for three years if they have a good onboarding experience.
According to Apollo Technical, poor onboarding results in one-third of new employees quitting after six months. We don’t want this to happen.
What we do want is to have new team members engaged. Forbes cites that 87% of engaged team members are less likely to leave the company.
But before jumping headfirst into a remote work set-up for your team, consider the following:
- Make sure to set clear ground rules that everybody on your team, even managers, should follow.
- Set clear and defined expectations by delegating tasks effectively, establishing deadlines, and quality of deliverables.
- You can improve communication and engagement by conducting virtual team-building activities.
- Schedule team meetings consistently and have 1:1 meetings.
- Great onboarding impacts the longevity of new employees and increases work engagement.