A Champion’s Guide to Managing Remote Teams
Hey managers, are you finding managing remote teams difficult? It’s completely understandable that you don’t trust remote work. As soon as people start working from home in their PJs, they will skip the working part. Right?
Wrong! Now that the world as we know it has dramatically changed, you’ll have to revisit this opinion. Hopefully, this remote work management guide will help a little bit.
Frequent and clear communication is fundamental to managing remote teams. The importance of communication bears repeating, especially when it concerns remote work. Being consistent with these two actions helps establish open forms of communication, better connect with team members and improve team cohesion. Indeed, let’s think of communication as time invested in cultivating something valuable for productivity in the workplace.
The more frequent the interaction with colleagues (and managers), the more likely we move toward a better understanding of each other. In turn, frequent and clear communication help eliminate many counterproductive and toxic elements in the work environment like unnecessary stressful situations, confusion, misinterpretations, destructive gossip, team conflicts, individual frustrations, and social alienation. As an example, consider implementing the regular practice of daily check-ins combined with clear and concise messages (information, instructions, deadlines, follow-ups, assignments, warnings, call-to-actions, etc.).
Furthermore, managing remote teams requires a bit of patience and a capacity for adapting our ways of doing things to a variety of realities we are facing: different time zones, work styles, collaborative approaches, methods and tools, data, metrics, people, team sizes, etc. Be open to changes, learning opportunities, learning curves, new strategies and developments, and willing to follow or discover novel ideas. However, there is no one way to do great work, and figuring out what works best for team members as a collaborative effort can be particularly rewarding as it has an impact on an overall project and its final results.
By flexibility, we also mean managing expectations when it comes to managing remote teams. With deadlines, for example, it’s important to set up realistic deadlines by taking into consideration the implications of teleworking, as well as respecting them.
With our willingness for flexibility, we implicitly understand workers’ and managers’ need to manage their own workload, and schedule but also other responsibilities and obligations outside of work. Voicing these issues will help coworkers and managers set expectations on delivering actions. One excellent way to manage expectations is to keep a detailed calendar of your scheduled activities and items. Then, share them with the team.
Doing so will let any team member be aware of your whereabouts at discretion without interrupting your team with daily announcement emails. Another great way is to create specific email signatures. Something like: “I’m attending a conference this week with limited access to my email but will try to respond as soon as I possibly can. For a more immediate response, feel free to contact X.”
However, managing remote teams also requires a bit of effort with technology literacy. More and more tools and services are made more and more available. They are also more accessible and affordable to use, thanks to user-friendly interfaces and ongoing UX improvements on existing apps, programs, and platforms. But in a remote team, we don’t all use the same tools the same way. In addition, knowing more about the tools used by your team can also help raise questions as to whether they are optimal for your organization’s goals and projects, remove redundancy in terms of resources, or replace tools with better or more affordable solutions.
So, it’s important to feel more comfortable and familiarize ourselves with a variety of technological means. Thankfully, you can get a lot of assistance remotely! So many free resources at the tip of our fingers occupy so much of the online space to show us glorious step-by-step how-tos – blogs, video tutorials, devoted YouTube channels, TikTok accounts, specialized magazines… the list goes on! If you feel technologically challenged or inadequate, knowing how to look for information to learn new technology is just as (if not more) important.
Anyone can learn to do anything! Nevertheless, look for reliable sources. For example, manufacturer’s or SaaS’s websites, FAQs and help desk, consumers and products e-magazines, or application stores offer relevant keyword searches and reach out to a more tech-savvy coworker for help, it will be worth the effort.
Ah, time management, the ultimate pursuit of a lifetime! We all know how precious time is, so the intricate challenge of allocating coworkers’ time and resources on various projects and tasks easily gets elevated to an art form! Time management on remote collaborative projects makes a difference in team morale and performance. Who is best at doing what? And who is available to do it? Who is willing to tackle it? What is the best use of each team member’s time? How can things be prioritized or rearranged differently to accommodate which team members?
However, these questions could help better manage your remote team’s time allocation on different pressing projects. Another added level of complication is when some of the coworkers are away or on vacation. Who will be able to pick up the slack in the meantime?
Speaking of time off management, one simple solution is Vacation Tracker! No more complicated paperwork and forms! Replace heavy HR admin work with just a few clicks to manage your team’s time off! It is easy to set up and use for both managers and employees. Moreover, managing anything related to time off is a breeze. Easily request and approve leaves, track leaves and leave types remaining, leave history, calendar details, custom reporting, and archive.
Shirley is a Vacation Tracker occasional contributor. She’s held a few positions in communications, marketing and copywriting. When she’s not at her laptop, you can find her daydreaming about her laptop and chasing the sun while people watching.