Tips For Managing A Remote Team
Remote work is everywhere, literally and figuratively. Most likely your company already has some aspect of remote work— whether it’s full time remote employees, freelancers and consultants, or simply offering employees the ability to work from home every once in a while.
Managing a remote team requires a digital toolset as well as an understanding of how the individuals on your team operate. It can be tough, but it can also be extremely productive considering normal office distractions aren’t around, and individuals can more easily get “in the zone.”
You probably ask yourself questions like, How often should we have meetings? How much facetime is right? How can tools help (and not hinder) the creative process? How do you deal with a deficit of behavioral clues when something isn’t going well?
The goal is to make sure everyone on the team feels connected and is productive. Just because employees are “remote” doesn’t mean they’re meant to feel like they’re on a deserted island.
Here are some tips to keep your remote team from yelling S.O.S.:
Remote First Mentality
If you have a distributed team where some people are in the office and some people work remotely, or even one person is remote for a day, it’s important to assume a “remote first” attitude.
The “remote first” mentality means that even if one team member is remote and the rest are in the office, everyone will default to a video conference. That way, remote workers don’t feel left out. It’s also important from a management standpoint to make sure crucial information isn’t lost between colleagues.
Meetings can be a timesuck, but they are critical for maintaining a team that feels connected. Meetings serve dual purposes on remote teams: talking about work, and also reminding everyone that they are on a team. Think of it as making sure we’re on the same ship, rather than stranded on our own desert isles, trying to yell to each other for help. Even if meetings are extremely brief, they still help remote workers battle feelings of isolation.
Avoid Information Asymmetry
On remote teams, you can’t walk into an office and give a brief about what was just decided in another meeting. This disconnect can lead to informational asymmetry. As a manager, it’s important to keep the flow of information about what’s happening individually, on a team, and in the company transparent and available for everyone to see. We do this by using Trello and Slack with many different boards.
An updated Trello board means information is disseminated evenly because everyone has access to the same updates, no matter where they are.
Key Communication Platforms
Keeping track of projects requires effective use of digital tools on a remote team. Tools can serve different purposes when everyone on the team understands their purpose. Here’s what we use:
Knowing where to store documents and standardizing what goes where across the team ensures no one is stranded on their remote island.
As a manager, you have to be in tune with each individual on your remote team in less obvious ways than working in an office. Without micromanaging, it’s important to keep the team motivated, connected, and moving towards common goals. Communication is key in managing remote teams, but so is understanding what each individual needs.
Conclusion: Don’t Jump Ship
When done right, managing a remote team is deeply rewarding. It presents a different set of challenges for a new type of manager who understands the pros and cons of remote work, but is able to get a team productive and happy.
With persistent communication, trial and error, and a little help from technology, we are able to bring our remote team together seamlessly. No white flags or S.O.S. flares necessary.