Remote Work: Employees love it, while managers dread it. The popularity of working from home has exponentially risen over the past few years, leaving employees with more freedom and flexibility in their work. However, transitioning to a fully remote company is anything but easy and a real challenge for those in leadership positions. So, how and where to start? We compiled 5 important beginner’s tips for effective remote teams management.
From building trust and communication to setting clear expectations and leveraging technology, this list will equip you with the essential tools and strategies to thrive in the remote work landscape. Whether you are transitioning to remote work or are a new leader navigating the world of virtual teams, we’ve got you covered. So, let’s dive in and discover the essential steps for managing virtual teams! (Interesting read: HubSpot says remote employees are more engaged)
Effective communication is the cornerstone of successfully managing remote workers. When working with a team that is dispersed geographically, communication becomes even more critical as there are no in-person cues to rely on. Therefore, it is essential to establish clear communication channels and protocols to ensure that everyone is on the same page. This could involve setting up regular virtual team meetings, using video conferencing tools, or instant messaging apps to keep everyone connected.
Moreover, communication plays a crucial role in building trust and maintaining healthy working relationships. In virtual teams management, building trust is a slow process, that you can only achieve by communicating clearly. Virtual team building can help you to break down walls and encourage communication. By prioritizing effective communication, you can build strong relationships with your remote team and create a positive work culture that supports your business goals.
Our top tips:
- Regular team meetings: Seeing some real faces on the regular when working remotely is vital, even if it is just once a day. We come together with the whole team every day for our Daily Meeting, where we briefly discuss the previous workday and today’s tasks. We noticed that this had a massive impact on our remote collaboration and team spirit, since we feel much more connected to our colleagues.
- Make communication efficient: Regular contact with colleagues is important to build trust and form a strong company culture. However, overdoing it with online meetings can negatively influence productivity. Try to figure out which meetings are really necessary, and when a quick message also gets the job done. Also, try to avoid unnecessarily long meeting times. Each meeting should have a clear goal and limited time.
- Discuss nonwork related topics: When working remotely, the classic water-cooler conversations are hard to recreate, so employees can go weeks without having a single personal conversation. However, these personal chats are so important for your remote culture, so prioritizing them will work in your favor. At the end of our weekly Joure Fixe, we always have a personal question that each employee answers. We also introduced a new Get2know format, where schedule 15 minutes a month with a random team member to have a personal conversation.
If you like it or not, technology is essential when working remotely. Using the right tools is vital for managing a remote team effectively. With the right tools for your team, you can streamline communication, project management, and collaboration, making it easier to manage your team and ensure that everyone is working towards the same goals. There are a variety of tools available that can help you manage your remote team, from video conferencing software like Zoom and Google Meet to project management platforms like Trello, Asana or Slack.
In addition to improving communication and collaboration, using the right tools can also help you track progress, meet deadlines and manage your time better. By having a clear overview of your team’s progress, you can quickly identify any issues or bottlenecks and take action to resolve them. Additionally, you can share files and documents securely, making it easy for your team to access the information they need to do their jobs effectively. Overall, investing in the right tools can save you time and effort, improve team collaboration and communication, and help your remote team achieve success.
Our top tips:
- Virtual workspaces: MS Teams and Skype meetings are fine, and work well, especially when you transition to remote work. However, implementing your very own remote workspace can do wonders for your culture when working in a remote environment. We work together in our virtual office every day, which makes communication and collaboration just so much easier.
- Give every tool a purpose: We get it, there is a myriad of tools out there that feel super necessary to make working remotely successful. Reality is, you don’t need all of them. Using too many tools can be counter-productive and hinder your team from finding the right workflow. We recommend to start with one video conferencing tool (or remote workspace), one tool for written communication (e.g. Slack), and one for storing information (e.g. Notion).
- Get rid of e-mail communication: E-Mails are for contacting clients, not for internal communication. There are way better tools out there, that make internal messaging really easy and convenient. Personally, we like to use Slack, as it allows creating channels and groups, so everyone can easily receive the information they really need.
3. Create frameworks for goals, responsibilities and roles
When working from the office, team roles and responsibilities tend to “fall into place” automatically during the workday. Without clear goals and responsibilities, remote employees may lack direction and focus, leading to missed deadlines, reduced productivity, and poor morale. By setting specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals, you can create a roadmap for your remote team to follow, which helps to keep them motivated and engaged.
Getting these aspects straight will make it much easier to track progress and measure success. Regular check-ins and progress updates can help to keep team members aligned and accountable, and ensure that the project stays on schedule. Celebrating achievements and milestones along the way can also boost morale and motivation, encouraging your remote team to continue working towards the goals you have set.
Our top tips:
- Performance measurement: How many hours remote employees spend at work does not say anything about their performance. Make sure that your performance measurement is focused on the actual work output. Setting KPIs for every role can be an efficient way to measure the success of your team in the long run. Find processes and systems that work for you and are transparent for your team members.
- Make responsibilities clear: When working from home, many employees struggle to clearly know their roles and responsibilities. Our event managers, for example, have a clear guideline on the whole event process (documented in our shared Notion account), from first client contact to event and location organizational tasks. A clear roadmap like that shows people what to do and when.
- Set individual goals: Finding the sweet spot where company goals align with those of the individuals in your team can be a game changer for your productivity. We set company-OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) for every quarter, e.g: “We want to attract XY visitors to our website”. Then we think about how team members could individually contribute to the company goal, and set their own individual OKRs according to it.
4. Effectively managing remote teams and team development
Without the right leadership, working remotely can become a nightmare for you as well as your employees. As a manager, you need to create an environment that allows team members to take ownership of their work. One way to do this is to provide your team with clear guidance and direction, while also giving them the autonomy to make decisions and solve problems on their own. This is a continuous process, closely linked to team development. Encourage your team members to take initiative and be proactive, and provide them with the support they need to succeed.
Demonstrate the qualities you want to see in your team, such as accountability, transparency, and collaboration. Encourage your team to provide feedback, and take it into account when making decisions. This will help your team members feel valued and invested in their work. Foster this process by utilizing virtual team building and team development solutions. Finally, provide your team members with opportunities to develop their own individual, professional skills. This may include mentoring, coaching, or training programs that focus on leadership development.
Our top tips:
- Take advantage of your talent pool: Remote work does not only bring advantages for employees, but also for you as an employer and manager. One of the most evident is the vast talent pool you can recruit from. The candidate that complements your team best may not live in your city, state, or even your country. So don’t be afraid to hire remotely!
- Actively work on your culture: Your remote employees can only be their best selves when your company culture and leadership style is working in their favor. Conflicts and misunderstandings can arise easily in a remote setting. We recommend team development measures like a virtual communication workshop or seminar.
- Foster personal development: Your employees are your most important asset. Giving them a chance to express themselves through their work will be a huge win for all parties involved. Through internal or external training programs and coaching, they have a chance to develop new skills that may also work in your favor.
- Practice situational leadership: There is not one perfect leadership style that will help your remote team to thrive. Rather, we recommend to practice situational leadership, which can help you adapt the way you lead to the situation at hand. This will help you to become more agile and flexible when making everyday decisions.
5. Set clear rules
When it comes to managing remote employees, it’s important to have a set of rules and frameworks in place right from the start. Having clear guidelines helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals. Creating rules and frameworks can help to establish expectations around aspects like communication, task management, and productivity.
We recommend establishing these guidelines early on in your remote journey, as it will help your team to settle in more seamlessly. You can help to prevent miscommunications and ensure that everyone is working effectively and efficiently. Overall, creating rules and frameworks is an essential step when starting out with remote work, as it helps to establish a clear path for everyone involved.
Our top tips:
- Availability: Working remotely often comes with a flexible timetable. This is great, but constant availability can take a toll on work-life-balance. Set clear times when employees should be available, and clear cut-off points. You can also encourage your employees to turn off their notifications when not working, which can be easily done when using apps like Slack.
- Equipment: The right equipment can make or break the way you work remotely. Make sure your employees are equipped with everything they need to successfully do their job, the basics including a laptop, ergonomic desks, chairs as well as stable and safe Wi-Fi.
- Place: Working from home and working remotely does not necessarily mean the same thing. Remote work can also happen from a coffee shop, the train or even another country. Establish clear rules around these aspects, since it can save you a lot of troubles concerning labor laws.
In conclusion, managing remote employees can be a challenge, but by following our top tips, you can ensure that your team stays productive, engaged, and connected. Remember to communicate effectively, establish clear expectations, foster a sense of community, provide opportunities for growth, and prioritize work-life balance. By implementing these strategies, you can build a strong and successful remote team that thrives in today’s ever-changing work landscape. Best of luck in your remote management endeavors!
VIDEO: 21 rules for managing remote teams
FAQs Remote Teams Management
What are the benefits of managing remote teams?
Managing a remote team can be a challenge, but it’s worth the effort. A well-oiled remote team is diverse, agile and has high employee satisfaction. Operating remotely also saves a lot of costs for office buildings and the commute of your employees.
What are the best tools for remote teams management?
There are many great tools for remote teams management out there. Over the course of the last years, the selection of tools has gotten better and better. However, what tools you use is up to you and your team’s unique needs. Our tip: Be selective with the tools you use. Using too much can hinder your productivity rather than help it.