It doesn’t look like remote work is going away anytime soon.
It’s actually quite the opposite, since a whopping 97% of employees prefer remote work — which means that managers have to adapt their processes to fit the new requirements.
What makes managing teams so much more difficult in remote work conditions?
What challenges do team leaders and managers face when working remotely, and how can they overcome these challenges?
In this article, we will answer the questions above and give you 11 tips to help you effectively manage remote teams.
What are the challenges of managing a remote team?
Managing a successful team is far from easy as it is — and, with remote work, you have to add a layer of distance and disconnection to the equation.
Let’s take a closer look at the main challenges remote teams face and the best way to solve them.
Challenge #1: It’s difficult to stay in the loop
Staying in the loop and getting notified of all the updates can become a major challenge, thanks to factors such as:
- Different time zones,
- Different schedules, and
- Not having a unified channel of communication.
A tip to help you stay in the loop
Choose the right communication tool.
If you aim for fast and frequent communication, team messaging apps such as Pumble might be the right fit for you.
Challenge #2: Your team may feel lonely and isolated
When teams stop regularly seeing each other in person, it becomes increasingly harder to communicate and maintain relationships.
As a result, people can start feeling lonely and isolated from other team members.
A tip to help you feel less lonely and isolated
Research different ways you can help your remote team feel more connected — for example, you can try to work at the same time or organize a virtual team-building.
Challenge #3: Juggling between time zones
Global workplaces are increasingly common, and coordination across different time zones represents a serious obstacle to efficient team communication.
A tip to help you juggle between time zones
Some of the best team practices when working across time zones are:
- Keep detailed written records of all the processes and projects to increase efficiency.
- Clearly define roles, responsibilities, and goals.
- When scheduling meetings, make sure you find a time slot that works for everyone. Determine if the meeting is even necessary or if a message or email would suffice.
Challenge #4: Maintaining a healthy work culture
Working remotely can be fertile soil for micromanaging and poor work-life boundaries if you’re not careful.
A tip to help you maintain a healthy work culture
Managers need to take a leap of faith and make a conscious decision to trust their employees — they’re hired for a reason, aren’t they?
Challenge #5: The distance that makes it hard to track individual and group achievements
Since they’re not seeing their employees, managers might find it difficult to keep track of all their employees’ achievements and give objective performance reviews.
A tip to help you track individual and group achievements
Use software to help you — such as:
- Time-tracking software to keep up with everyone’s current projects, and
- Project management software to measure progress on project completion.
How do you manage and lead remote teams effectively?
We’ve established that managing remote teams is both important and challenging — so, here are 11 more detailed tips to help you effectively lead your remote team.
Tip #1: Use efficient communication tools
According to statistics, up to 32% of employees cite a lack of communication as the reason behind their burnout — so, you need an efficient communication tool to overcome this issue.
Some of these tools may be:
- Team messaging apps
- Video conference tools
- Phone calls
These communication tools are designed to make communication more streamlined, quick, and simple.
Tip #2: Work on becoming a better manager
Managers should lead by example.
So, work on improving yourself and becoming a better manager.
Invest in your education, training, and personal development by taking online courses and researching tips and advice specifically on this matter.
Tip #3: Stay aware of personal biases
Personal biases exist in all of us, but they are unconscious — and thus hard to take notice of.
For example, you may be guilty of recency bias, where you judge an employee based on their most recent work instead of their entire output.
If we educate ourselves about these biases, we are more likely to be aware of them and not let them affect our behavior.
Tip #4: Provide structure to your employees’ workday
As a manager, you should provide structure to help your employees make sense of their daily responsibilities and avoid disorganization.
You can do this by:
- Setting clear priorities,
- Setting clear deadlines,
- Giving detailed instructions,
- Tracking time employees spend on specific tasks,
- Tracking progress on assignments using project management tools,
- Having regular meetings,
- Having regular performance assessments.
Tip #5: Provide a free information flow
First, make sure your employees are aware of the importance of knowledge sharing and how it affects everyone in the company.
Then, you can implement these techniques to make sure there are no information blockages:
- Encourage your employees to share information with each other.
- Make communication easier with the help of the right tools.
- Make file sharing easy.
- Build a sense of community.
- Provide more opportunities for collaboration.
- Choose to overcommunicate, as this practice ensures that everyone has all the necessary information.
Tip #6: Organize fun and engaging activities
Make time to do something fun and engaging from time to time — consistent social engagement leads to:
- Job satisfaction,
- Better collaboration, and
- Improved employee retention.
For instance, at the beginning of every meeting, you can do a quick round of icebreaker questions or a trivia session.
Tip #7: Enable upstream communication
Upstream or upward communication is the type of communication initiated by people at a lower rung of the work position hierarchy directed to low, mid, and top-level management.
How can you enable and encourage upward communication?
- Have an open-door policy.
- Have regular meetings.
- Create channels for upward communication in a team messaging app.
- Ask for feedback.
- Ask for participation.
- Stay open, receptive, and non-judgmental.
Tip #8: Build trust by showing empathy
Showing your employees empathy makes them feel heard and valued, not like just another “brick in the wall”.
Here are a few ideas to help you foster trust and empathy in your team:
- Be an active listener.
- Try not to be judgemental.
- Share your own weaknesses and experiences.
- Give a bit of deserved leeway.
- Share advice.
- Make time for communication.
- Schedule one-on-one meetings so you can give attention to each member of your team.
Tip #9: Introduce praise in your company’s culture
Give credit where credit is due and praise a member of your team who did an exceptionally good job.
You can also create a #you-are-awesome channel on Pumble where anyone can praise anyone.
This is useful because the peer-to-peer nature captures day-to-day feedback and praise that managers might otherwise miss.
Tip #10: Offer equipment for employees to set up their home offices
Without proper equipment, employees are likely to experience discomfort, which leads to overall job dissatisfaction and, eventually, even to the decision to seek better benefits in other companies.
To prevent this, provide them with all the tools and equipment they might need to do their job efficiently — such as:
- Ergonomic chairs,
- Solid computers,
- Noise-suppressing headphones, and
- A stable and fast Internet connection.
Tip #11: Focus on the results
Don’t monitor your employees’ every move.
Instead, focus on their results.
Are they dependable?
Do they respect deadlines?
Is the quality of their work the same (or better) as when they were working in the office?
Do they provide value to the company?
If the answers to these questions are ‘Yes’ — whatever they’re doing during working hours, it’s effective.
This is just a summary of an article previously published on the Pumble blog.
To learn more about the best ways to manage remote teams, we recommend reading the full article: