“Ok, but how do you do this new ‘remote’ thing?”
Managing a remote team for the first time and don’t know where to start? Transitioning your team to remote? Are you in a remote-first company?
We hear you: it’s not easy to bring deadlines, tasks, people and resources all in one place… when they’re in fact all over the place!
In this article, we’ll summarize the best practices for managing remote teams.
Let’s dive in!
6 Best Practices For Managing Remote Teams
At this point, companies have learned quickly to adapt to remote work. The 2020 pandemic has shown that companies can rely on people working from home effectively, despite not being in a physical office.
So, how do you manage a remote team effectively?
The 6 best practices illustrated below will serve as the pillars for the team’s success. For each, you’ll learn why they are important, and how to do it practically.
#1: Clear Communication
Communication should be a pillar in any successful work environment. And it’s even more crucial in a remote setting.
That is because, when a team member cannot discuss issues and doubts in person, the risk of misunderstanding and delays grows exponentially.
If you establish clear communication rules earlier on, and you make sure to keep the lines open, then the team will be able to communicate effectively even if far apart.
Good communication leads to fewer mistakes, more efficiency, and a better allocation of time and resources.
How Do You Communicate In A Remote Team?
- Implement asynchronous communication;
- Use the right tools like chat and communication apps (more about this later on);
- Don’t forget human connection: don’t just talk about work.
Collaboration is essential for any team. But again, just like communication, it becomes even more crucial when you’re in a remote team.
Effective teams run like clockwork, but that doesn’t happen if all the pieces are not working as they should. And with those pieces are scattered across different towns, states, or even timezones, well, everything risks falling into pieces at the first bump.
Building a culture of collaboration means assigning clear priorities, responsibilities, and promote accountability.
How Do You Collaborate In A Remote Team
- Empower everybody to do their job with the right information, guidelines, and tools;
- Make the expectations and responsibilities clear right from the start;
- Assign tasks and priorities;
- Don’t forget to check in now and then (but not too often);
# 3 Give The Team the Right Tools
The physical distance between remote teams also means that the regular tools used in an office would not work.
No passing papers or dropping in memos or doodle a whiteboard, no Kanban board to look at to update the progression of the work.
Well, at least not physical ones because, in fact, remote teams can rely on the digital versions of all these tools.
I’m talking about apps, software, and cloud solutions targeted to remote teams. With these tools “office” is moved to a virtual space that’s accessible to everybody with an Internet connection.
What Basic Tools Does A Remote Team Need?
- A project management tool;
- Chat software/ video conferencing software;
- A time tracking tool;
- Cloud storage for documents;
- A goal tracking software.
Email is not really mentioned in this list, not because remote teams don’t need email, but only because email alone cannot be the sole way of communicating and sharing information. The more complicated a project gets, the more difficult it is to manage it using email alone. So email should be reserved for basic communication only.
#4 Set And Track Goals
Speaking of goals and goal tracking, you can’t expect your team to work effectively if they don’t know the goal they’re working towards.
Without clear goals, not only will the team risk not completing projects, but managers won’t have any way of measuring and evaluating performance.
This is why not only it is good practice to establish and share goals, and also track them in the context of a remote team.
How Do You Track Goals In A Remote Team?
#5 Stay Connected (And Human)
In the 2020 State of Remote Work survey by Buffer, the vast majority of workers said that one of the biggest struggles they faced were isolation and being disconnected from the team.
Just because you’re not in the office and cannot meet by the water cooler that doesn’t mean you cannot build camaraderie and connection with colleagues and make friends while remote.
Something as simple as “Good morning” and “How are you doing?” and “How are you feeling?” are enough for team members to feel connected and appreciated.
How Do You Stay Connected While Remote?
- Start a “Virtual water cooler” chat in your communication app and use it for chit-chat;
- Hold virtual happy hours from time to time with the whole team;
- Try some fun virtual team building games.
#6: Keep The Team Engaged
Understanding the drives and motivations of your team members helps you build a strong connection, and learn how to help team members work better.
Employees who work in an engaging environment are more effective at their jobs. In fact, a workplace culture survey conducted by Gallup found that highly engaged teams are up to 21% more profitable.
Not to mention all the benefits in terms of employee retention, work-life balance, and general wellbeing of the team.
How Do You Build An Engaged Remote Team?
- Respect a team member’s time off;
- Offer some remote work benefits for employees (for example: covering Internet connection costs, offer vouchers for purchasing workstation items, pay for subscriptions to software and entertainment, and so on)
- Acknowledge a job well done and celebrate the team’s achievements.
The best practices for managing remote teams have to be based on communication and collaboration. Also, give the team the tools to do their jobs and reach their goals, and don’t forget about building human connection, even if you’re far apart.
By following these best practices, remote teams can and will be successful in 2021 and beyond!