Need talent from all over the world? Can’t afford a vast office to accommodate every member of the team? Want to keep your employees happy by sparing them the everyday commute? The answer to all these questions is working remotely.
However, working remotely can cause managers a host of problems they might not be equipped to deal with. In this article, we are going to review some tips that can help these managers keep themselves and their employees happy and productive.
Find a project management tool
These days, many online tools have been developed to help teams work together without actually sitting in the same room. These online tools can be websites, web apps, mobile applications, or Windows and Mac software. Some of the most popular of these applications are Trello, AirTable, Microsoft Planner, and so on.
These applications allow managers to lay out the steps of every project carefully and assign one team member to each step. Managers can also set due dates for the tasks and share all the material members need to complete those tasks. These project management tools can make a huge difference in the process of managing your teams remotely.
Clear your expectations
The one and only key to success in managing a team remotely is to communicate with your team members clearly and continuously. The first step in this communication is setting clear rules and expectations from the very beginning. When your employees know exactly what you expect them to do, they can fulfil their duties much more successfully.
On the other hand, as a manager, you have to be careful to have reasonable expectations of your team members. First, you have to know each and every person on your team and understand their capabilities and limitations. Second, you need to adjust your expectations to the realities of remote work. The fact that some people work from home, and some choose a coworking space to work in. some people might not have full equipment to do everything at home, and some might not enjoy the luxury of a stable internet connection. With these in mind, you can pick your expectations more reasonably and communicate them with your team more effectively.
After sharing your expectations with your team members, you need to constantly keep in touch with your employees so they won’t feel left out or isolated. The privilege of working in a team is that you feel like a member of a family, part of a larger community. However, working from home day in and day out can cause extreme loneliness and a sense of isolation.
Thankfully, there are tools that can alleviate these negative feelings remotely. Tools like Google Meet and Zoom can help you talk to your team members or at least chat with them on a regular basis. Daily check-ins with your team members through Zoom or another platform will solve your isolation and communication problems.
One of the important requirements of the age of remote work is that managers should focus on the outcome of the 9 to 5 days rather than making sure that their team members are busy working at their computers all day.
Once upon a time, it was considered a sin to walk away from your desk for anything more than a cup of coffee during working hours. The mark of a “good” employee was one that sat at his/her desk all day and was busy typing away on a keyboard. Today, however, managers should get rid of this misconception.
One of the critical points of managing a team remotely is to focus on the job your employee is supposed to do and when they should do it rather than the act of doing the job. So, for instance, if your team member finishes a project in a couple of hours and spends the rest of the day with his/her family and children, you should consider the day a constructive and productive one.
Be sympathetic and lenient
working from home means that your employees are going to be involved with a certain amount of family drama. When you spend your days at an office, you are away from the day-to-day happenings of the household.
As a manager, you need to understand that and see things from your team members’ perspectives. Having enough flexibility means that you can understand that your employee has to deal with a family emergency.
Have teambuilding sessions
Team building sessions can be held remotely as well. It can be playing online games with your team, inviting them to a café in their own cities and countries, having informal meetings in which everybody talks about themselves and their families, or watching a movie or a play all together.
These team-building sessions are a good opportunity for your team to unwind and get to know each other better. This will, in turn, increase the team morale and help the members feel like family members. The point is that many teams have these team-building sessions in the office, too, and it’s only a small jump from the offline to the online session.
Meet face to face
Anniversaries are always a good chance for all the members of the company to come together in one place. Your company could set a budget for the trips and accommodations. This way, your employees can see each other and socialize at least once a year.
What’s more, having a team come together and have a barbecue on a fine spring day in a location that’s convenient to most of the team members is something else that you can plan to manage your team remotely and give them that sense of loyalty they need to stay with you long term.
Strive for the mental health of your team members
One of the main challenges of staying at home and working all the time remotely is to keep yourself sane and happy. As the leader of a remote team, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your team members are happy and mentally stable.
You can do this by arranging therapy sessions if necessary, paying for gym and art classes, arranging after-work activities your employees can enjoy with their families, and celebrating their birthdays remotely. These simple steps are absolutely necessary if you want to manage a remote team that’s happy, healthy, and productive.
One way to manage a team remotely is to get them to work in groups of two or three. These small collaborations can improve the sense of community among your team members and get the project done more quickly and efficiently.
You can team people up from different departments whose jobs would complement each other. For instance, someone from the content and graphics teams can work together. Or someone from the software development team can help the accounting department to create something new. These collaborations will eventually lead to better relationships among team members. Just remember to switch team members regularly and keep the teams as versatile as possible.
Managing a remote team can be a delicate and different affair. If you have been the manager of a conventional team, there and many adjustments you have to make in your techniques and attitudes. If you are a new manager, it’s better to start your experience in the flexible and open-minded manner that’s required of a manager of a remote team.
These small yet crucial, techniques will allow you to understand your team members from different cities and countries and increase their productivity and job satisfaction. Following these tips will eventually lead to a solid team that will stay together long term.