Remote teams are on the rise, especially in the IT industry. According to a new study by IWG, about 70% of employees globally work remotely at least once a week and 50% of employees work remotely half the week. Yet many people fear that managing remote teams is difficult. They fear remote teams don’t work or aren’t productive enough.
It’s a common misconception which differs extremely from reality. Because in reality, ⅔ of employers (especially from the IT industry) claims that remote workers are more productive than in-house workers.
Even from my own experience, I can say managing remote teams is much easier.
They are a team of self-motivated individuals who are productive and always finish their work on time. Plus, they are attentive to details and good decision-makers.
Honestly speaking managing remote teams requires some serious work from the management side at first. But once the work culture is set, it is very easy to manage and look over them. Based on my personal experience these are a few of the points you need to pay attention at first:
(In case you need more tips on managing a high-performing virtual team, I suggest you read this blog: 25 Tips to Help You Manage a High-Performing Virtual Team. )
Best practices for managing remote teams:
1. Step up your communication skill
Communication can either make or break your remote teams. Good communication skill is the key to effectively managing remote teams. Whereas, the lack of it can negatively impact your team and overall business. So, it’s crucial for you and your team to have good communication skills.
Don’t expect your remote team to communicate everything well if you cannot do the same. We as a CEO or any other managerial post shouldn’t forget that communication is a two-way process. It can only be effective when we also show an active presence.
You can communicate using various tools like Skype, Slack or Viber. Anything that works for you and your team can be used to communicate. You don’t need to stress over this part. Just focus on communication skills.
You can prepare a list of topics to be discussed and tell your team to do the same. Then after each conversation, you can take notes of activities discussed and decisions taken.
In this way, you can keep track of work progress and easily plan the next step. Also, just think how annoying it will be to give an update about the same thing every day? The remote teams can easily get demotivated if you do that as it feels like you not seeing or valuing their work. So, it’s better to take notes and prepare the points to be discussed beforehand.
2. Set a time schedule
Let’s not forget about the time difference. This is what makes managing remote teams burdensome at first. It is easy to forget it’s night time in their country while the sun is shining right above your forehead, or vice-versa.
The notifications and message you send at such a time can make it difficult for the remote teams. So, it’s better to set a time schedule which works for both parties. In this set time schedule, they should be present online and strictly able to reply anytime. It’s good to maintain a few rules and discipline as long as you also follow them.
Also, don’t forget about national holidays. Expecting your remote team to work on such day is counter-productive. How would you feel if you had to do work on Christmas? It’s the same for them.
So, pay attention while preparing a time schedule. And consider the above-mentioned points.
3. Be clear about your expectation
Each employee has their own individual goals. Similarly, there is a company goal that can only be achieved through a team effort. As much as the company’s goal is yours, it should be your teams too. So, it’s crucial to communicate your company’s main goal and objective to your remote team members. They should be clear why it’s necessary to achieve the said goals. And that a team effort is necessary to achieve them.
You can see your goals being achieved only after you clearly communicate your expectation. Don’t assume they know what you want or your future goals and plans.
Lastly, don’t forget your teams’ individual goal in all this. As much as it’s their goal, it’s yours too. If you really want to retain and motivate them then never forget them.
4. Feedback and Rewards
According to this article published in LinkedIn, 69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts are better recognized. On the same article, it has been stated that 75% of respondents find feedback valuable.
See employees love receiving feedback!
It shows that you care about them and actually take your time to review their work. Plus, your feedback helps them to grow and become better at their work so they want you to provide honest feedback.
That’s why you should timely provide feedback to your remote team member’s work. And reward them accordingly. The reward is to give them an extra dose of motivation. Trust me, I am completely saying this from my experience, they will become more productive and dedicated to their work if you do this.
5. Make them feel like a team member
If you treat them as someone who works for you then they will act like that. But if you make them feel like a team then they will become the team member.
What’s the difference?
Well someone who works for you will just do the work and that’s it. They don’t show any effort to achieve the company’s main goal. As a matter of fact, they don’t even care about it.
But on the other hand, a team member cares about the company’s well-being and puts in extra effort to achieve the goal. They learn and grow their skills just to make sure the company doesn’t suffer or lack in any way.
I have seen many companies managing remote teams as if they are not part of the company. However, they are a crucial part of the company. And they are just like an in-house team and require the same attention and care.
So, you need to focus on making them feel like a team and participate them in team activities. This will increase the team harmony and you can experience a smoother work operation.
Here are some of the ways you can make your remote teams feel more connected:
- Virtual team rooms
- Team activities
- Value their diversity
- Respect and Listen
You can learn about the best team building activities for remote teams by reading this blog:5 Team Building Activities For Remote Teams