Even before the pandemic, the possibility of remote work had been a hot topic for years. The 2020 Buffer report on the state of remote work showed that more than 95% of employees preferred to work part-time remotely for the rest of their working years.
Today, remote work has skyrocketed as more and more companies establish remote teams.
According to research done by Stanford, at least 42% of the American labor force now works full time from their homes or remote locations.
Allowing employees to work remotely makes them better performers and happier employees. There are many benefits associated with remote work arrangements. This includes improved employee productivity, work-life balance, and access to a larger talent pool.
A pole by Gartner showed that more than 90% of human resource leaders confirmed that most of their remote employees would be allowed to continue working remotely post-pandemic. For this to be possible, management teams need to adopt new management practices to have seamless working relations between the remote workers and the company.
Here are the best practices you can follow when managing a remote team.
Best Practices to Manage Remote Employees Find The Right People
While everyone would love the possibility of working remotely, not everyone can be productive while working from a remote environment. Also, not all managers have what it takes to manage remote teams. Therefore, organizations need to pick the right team and team leader for their remote team.
When working remotely, every team member must understand the importance of meeting their goals and deliverables. While they will still need guidance and direction, they need to possess the ability to get work done with no excuses. Thus, it is important to pick team members who can be trusted to deliver with minimal supervision.
The best way to ensure you choose the right team is to start by hiring a few short-term for a project to see how they perform. You can pick employees to keep long-term based on performance from this list.
Determine Their Responsibilities
As a manager, it is paramount to set out responsibilities for every remote worker. Setting clear guidelines of what is excepted from every remote worker will ensure everyone knows their responsibility as far as the project goes. This also helps the employees to understand how their task is interconnected and how they contribute to the overall project.
Once the responsibilities are clear, the manager should ensure that the employees have access to all the WFH items and resources to meet their expectations.
These resources can include:
How productive a remote team is dependent on the structures out in place and predictability. It is easy for employees to disconnect when working remotely, which can be mitigated by creating a working team rhythm.
As a team manager, you should create clear timetables for group meetings and a work schedule to show what every team member is working on and who need to collaborate on projects. This gives them a clear working structure while showing how they contribute to the overall end product.
When coming up with these structures, consider the different time zones of team members from other parts of the world. The structures should match the extra work hours to avoid burdening the employee with the inconvenience. Consider rotating meetings to ensure they are not scheduled too early or late for any remote team member.
Focus on Communication
When working in a shared office, communication is always easy since employees can walk into the manager’s office at any time during working hours to ask questions or get feedback. This is not the case with remote team management.
With remote work, team members cannot track the manager’s whereabouts at all times, which can strain communication. To mitigate communication issues when managing a remote team, the manager should create an open line of communication to remove any barriers.
To manage communication effectively, a manager can create short sessions with the employees where they are available for uninterrupted meeting times. For even better planning, the manager can create a timetable where meetings can be blocked out once booked to make scheduling more manageable.
It also helps to have a communication strategy to clarify effective communication methods to all team members. With a communication strategy, the manager can determine the number of meetings they prefer having with their team.
Avoid Overloading Employees
When working in a co-located office, it becomes easy for management to see when an employee is overloaded with work and tasks, making it easy to delegate and balance out the tasks for better productivity and employee satisfaction. This is not always the case when managing a remote team.
It is easy to overload an employee with work without knowing when managing a remote workforce. The best way to ensure this does not happen is to inquire with the employees about the current tasks before assigning more tasks to them.
The manager should also ensure employees do not burden their colleagues with tasks or emails in the same strength. For instance, employees should check that they only send emails to relevant parties instead of addressing them to all. This will save time used opening and filtering emails that may not concern an employee’s task in the project.
Create Team-Building Activities
Advancements in technology have made it possible for remote teams to participate in team-building activities virtually. Remote team building is an excellent way of catching up with remote employees and checking in with each other while having some fun. This helps to prevent loneliness and stress that can occur when working remotely.
Virtual team building is an excellent way of reminding individual remote workers that they work in a team, boosting productivity and connections between team members.
Some of the benefits of remote team building include:
Some of the best virtual team-building activities include a scavenger hunt, mystery round, food or task round, virtual karaoke, and one truth and one lie, among other games.
Track the Progress
Tracking progress is an essential part of managing a remote team. Every remote team manager should schedule a time for one-on-one meetings with the employees to discuss their projects and how far they have come. They can be scheduled daily, weekly, bi-weekly, depending on the project and the company’s needs. These one-on-one progress meetings are essential for ensuring the project is on track, adjusting deliverables, and keeping the workforce motivated and engaged in their work.
Managing a remote team comes with its share of challenges and benefits. With the right practices in place, a remote team can be just as productive as an office-managed team. By following the tips highlighted in this article, managing a remote team can be fun, engaging, and easy for any manager,
Lidia S. Hovhan is Digital Marketing expert and SEO guru. She contributes articles about how to integrate digital marketing strategy with traditional marketing to help business owners to meet their online goals. You can find really professional insights in her writings.
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