The Ultimate Guide to Managing A Remote Team
Let’s face it — managing a remote team is no easy feat.
Sometimes, managing a remote team can feel like you are flying blind because it’s hard to make sure everyone is on schedule. After all, that green button on Slack or Teams can only tell you so much about how much someone’s working. Because you can’t see your employees in person, it’s easy to assume that they’re not working as hard as they would in the office. Are they really doing work or are they just swiping right on Tinder and taking an extra-long lunch?
But here’s the good news: studies have shown that workers are happier and more productive when they work remotely or have flexibility in where and when they work. But how do you make sure you’re getting the most out of your remote workers without compromising their productivity or morale?
Let us break it all down for you. Whether you’re a manager or an employee working remotely, this guide will help you become productive and make sure your productivity is accurately measured.
Schedule daily check-ins
A daily check-in is your opportunity to give your team a sense of what they can expect in the coming day.
Think of check-ins as an everyday online version of morning standup meetings. They help keep your team members on track and let them know what to expect in the upcoming hours. By doing so, not only will both parties have a clear idea of what they have to do, but they will also feel more involved and connected to their work. This is essential when managing a remote team!
You may choose to use Slack or whatever app your team likes for this, or you could just schedule a time in your calendar every day when everyone is available and make sure that each person knows they are expected to be on call during that time frame. It’s also important not to go overboard with these meetings—make sure they are short and efficient so that you don’t waste anyone’s time with an unnecessary discussion about tasks for which there’s no solution at hand yet (or ever).
Offer your team flexibility
A little bit of flexibility goes a long way when managing a remote team.
Flexibility is undoubtedly a key component of any successful remote work environment. You need to give your employees the freedom to work when they are most productive, and this may mean that they have a different schedule than you have in mind. Since you can’t always rely on employees to stay out late and come in early to the office, be prepared to adjust your expectations accordingly.
As a manager of remote employees, it is vital that you have the flexibility to adjust their schedules as needed. This means allowing them to rotate in and out of meetings or take time off during the day when there are no meetings. It’s important that they know they can take time off when they need it—even if it means working inconvenient hours (such as out of the standard 9-5).
Clearly dictate & delegate responsibilities
When it comes to managing a remote team, you’ll need plenty of patience, dedication, and a clear set of goalposts to keep track of when everyone is on-target. Delegation is a necessary part of management — whether you are managing a remote team, or not.
Dictating and delegating responsibilities among your team is one of your primary responsibilities, regardless of whether you manage the entire organization or just a team. Hence, it’s important to dictate exactly what each of your employees is working towards at your company. Outlining everyone’s work responsibilities is essential to help keep everyone on track, get work done, and hit those deadlines.
Here are a few things you can do to help define those deliverables:
- Identify the work that needs to be done
This might seem obvious, but ensure that your employees understand the task at hand, whether it be a single project or a series of upcoming tasks
- Breakdown each goal
Set clear expectations for what constitutes a completed task by breaking any work into smaller tasks or jobs.
- Monitor tasks and track progress
Make it easy for your employees to generate reports and keep track of how things are going using some analytics. Daily check-ins will help you get there too!
Get your remote team together physically when possible
The best managers in the world are those who know when to get everyone together. And even though you’re managing a remote team, there’s still a time and a place to make it happen.
As your company grows and you have more employees, it is important to gather everyone together physically once in a while. Of course, there’s plenty of value in those office-catered meals and impromptu take-your-dog-to-work day surprises, but getting the team together for a day of bonding can be invaluable for building relationships, sharing ideas, and keeping everyone on the same page.
You should schedule a time to get all of your remote workers together at least once every quarter—or more often if possible. The best option is to pick one location that’s easy for everyone and hold these meetings there as often as possible. You could also choose different locations every few months, which could help with getting more people involved with each meeting.
Give people space to work on their own
When you’re managing a team of remote workers, it’s important to give them the space they need to work effectively.
Even though you might not notice it immediately, every remote employee has a different home/work environment. Some employees may choose to work from a home office. Others might work from their living room couch, their bed, or even their basement. Or they might work from a new cafe every day. The point is, no two remote employees are the same — and neither are their workspaces. Hence, it’s essential to give your remote team the space to work at their own pace.
Focus on outcomes, not activity
The key to managing a remote team successfully is to focus on what really matters: the outcomes.
As a manager, you’ll want to focus on outcomes, not activity. It’s easy to get caught up in the details and lose track of what needs to be done. Instead, set goals and measure progress toward those goals. Make sure everyone on your team knows the outcome they’re working toward and how they fit into helping you achieve that outcome.
However, it’s also important to make sure you don’t micromanage or worry about things that are outside of your control. You can do so by setting clear expectations for everyone involved in meeting those outcomes—both your team members’ responsibilities and role within the company overall—through employee handbooks, job descriptions, and performance reviews (if applicable).
Pay attention to work-life balance
Having a good work-life balance is a win-win for everyone involved.
On one hand, it makes your employees better at their jobs and happier with their lives. And on the other hand, meeting those deadlines and targets will ensure your company’s success and your success in managing a remote team.
So, it’s crucial to make sure your remote team members are getting the adequate work-life balance they need in their lives. It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day of running a business, but it’s important to take time out and just be with family and friends. Make sure your employees know that you care about their well-being, whether it’s by scheduling regular mental health check-ins or planning events like afternoon yoga sessions or happy hours on Fridays.
Make sure everyone feels supported and connected
Here’s the thing: without that connection to the outside world, remote workers can tend to fall into a rut. Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end with only a blinking cursor as company is bound to cause harm at some point. That’s why it’s important to take time out to go on a hike, grab lunch with friends, or work from your favorite cafe — even if it means spending $8 on a coffee.
When you’re managing a remote team, it’s easy to feel like you’re alone. You need to make sure that your team feels supported and connected. That’s why as managers, it is important to address stress, listen to employees’ worries, and empathize with them. Don’t be afraid to talk about stuff—you should be transparent with your employees and approachable. This will help them feel like they can talk to you whenever they have anything on their minds. Communication is key for good work between both parties!
Establish a culture of trust
It’s safe to say that having a good company culture goes a long way in managing a remote team effectively.
The first part of this is making sure that you have a good relationship with your team. You should be transparent with them and approachable—people work better when they trust their manager, so don’t hide behind an email or Slack channel. Be approachable and friendly to your employees.
The second part is being a good listener. If someone has an issue or question, don’t avoid them—talk it through. Make sure they don’t have any questions or concerns regarding anything.
Then, the next part is being happy to help at any time of day; be available in case there’s an emergency (but know when not to answer). Lastly, be clear about communication methods so people know how best to contact each other for different purposes.
Foster employee collaboration
You know what’s better than having a remote team? Having a team that feels like they aren’t remote!
Collaboration is the cornerstone of all great remote teams. It’s not just about working together, but about sharing ideas, knowledge, and experience. When people can collaborate effectively on a team or across teams, you get better results because everyone is working towards a common goal and helping each other achieve it simultaneously.
Talking to your remote colleagues regularly will help you identify any issues or concerns they might have at work so that you can help resolve them before they affect their productivity or performance in general. Doing so also helps to build trust between everyone involved so there are no surprises when it comes time for something major like a salary review or promotion opportunity!
Remote work is definitely the future—and the future is very much here.
However, not everyone is fully ready to embrace it. But as with every new development, there are always some tips you can use to make the transition easier. We’ve put together a toolkit that can help you manage your remote team in a way that will make you feel more organized and confident in your role as a manager. Our only hope is that you find this emerging approach to managing a remote team refreshing and useful!