The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses worldwide to adopt remote work, also known as work-from-home (WFH) or telecommuting. According to a survey by The Enterprise World, 66% organizations are already working on a hybrid work model, and 30% are in the process of adopting one.
As the world slowly adjusts to this new normal, managing remote teams has become a critical part of running a successful business. Remote work comes with its unique set of challenges and requires a different approach than managing teams in the traditional office setting.
ExpressVPN demonstrated in the survey that remote workers are working only 1/3rd of the time. Their recent study has also revealed that most workers are distracted from their work in the working hours. Some of the most common reasons for this happening are online shopping, online streaming, or even job hunting.
Here are 12 best practices for managing remote teams:
1. Communication is key
Effective communication is essential for managing remote teams. Managers need to establish clear lines of communication to ensure everyone is on the same page. Regular communication helps build trust, enhances collaboration, and fosters a sense of community within the team. Managers should leverage technology to facilitate communication, such as video conferencing, instant messaging, and project management tools.
It’s also important to establish guidelines for communication, such as setting expectations for response times and the preferred method of communication for different types of messages. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and avoids miscommunication.
2. Set Clear Expectations and Goals
Setting clear expectations and goals is essential for managing remote teams. It helps employees understand what is expected of them and provides a sense of direction. Managers should be clear about the goals and expectations for each employee, including performance standards, deadlines, and deliverables.
Managers should also establish a process for tracking progress towards these goals and providing feedback to employees. This helps employees understand how they are performing and what they need to do to improve. It also helps managers identify potential issues early on and take corrective action.
3. Establish Trust
Establishing trust is critical for managing remote teams. When employees are working remotely, it can be challenging for managers to monitor their activities and ensure that they are working efficiently. It’s essential to trust employees to get the work done and provide them with the necessary support and resources. Establishing trust is an important factor in managing remote teams.
Managers should communicate with their team regularly to check in on their progress and offer support. They should also empower their employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This helps employees feel valued and trusted, which can improve their morale and productivity.
4. Use Technology
Technology plays a critical role for managing remote teams. Managers should leverage technology to facilitate communication, collaboration, and productivity. There are many tools available that can help teams work efficiently, such as project management software, video conferencing tools, and instant messaging applications.
It’s important to choose the right tools for the job and ensure that employees are properly trained on how to use them. This ensures that everyone is on the same page and avoids miscommunication.
5. Provide Feedback
Providing feedback is essential for managing remote teams. It helps employees understand how they are performing and what they need to do to improve. Managers should establish a process for providing regular feedback to their employees, such as weekly or monthly check-ins.
It’s also important to provide feedback in a constructive and supportive manner. Managers should focus on the employee’s strengths and offer suggestions for improvement. This helps employees feel valued and motivated to improve their performance.
6. Foster a Sense of Community
Fostering a sense of community is critical for managing remote teams, as mentioned by Reworked. When employees are working remotely, it can be challenging to build a sense of camaraderie and shared purpose. Managers should take steps to create opportunities for employees to connect with one another, such as virtual team-building activities or social events.
It’s also important to celebrate successes and acknowledge the contributions of individual team members. This helps build morale and foster a sense of community within the team.
7. Be Flexible
Flexibility is essential for managing remote teams. Employees working remotely may have different schedules or work in different time zones. Managers should be flexible and accommodate their employees’ needs as much as possible. This helps employees feel valued and supported, which can improve their job satisfaction and productivity.
8. Provide Training and Development Opportunities
Providing training and development opportunities is essential for managing remote teams. It helps employees develop new skills and stay up-to-date with the latest industry trends. Managers should offer training and development opportunities to their employees, such as online courses or workshops.
It’s also important to provide opportunities for employees to collaborate and learn from one another. Managers can encourage cross-functional projects or assign mentors to help employees develop their skills.
9. Create a Work-Life Balance
According to eLearning Industry, creating a work-life balance is essential for managing remote teams. Working from home can blur the lines between work and personal life, leading to burnout and stress. Managers should encourage employees to take breaks and disconnect from work when necessary.
They should also establish clear guidelines for work hours and time off. This helps employees manage their workload and prevents them from feeling overwhelmed.
10. Foster a Positive Culture
Fostering a positive culture is critical for managing remote teams. When employees are working remotely, it’s important to create a positive and supportive work environment. Managers should encourage a culture of trust, respect, and collaboration.
They should also recognize and celebrate individual and team achievements. This helps employees feel valued and motivated to perform at their best.
11. Address Challenges and Conflicts
Addressing challenges and conflicts is essential for managing remote teams. Managers should be proactive in addressing any issues that arise and take corrective action as necessary. They should encourage open communication and provide a safe space for employees to voice their concerns.
It’s also important to establish guidelines for resolving conflicts, such as setting up a mediation process or involving HR if necessary. This helps prevent conflicts from escalating and damaging team morale.
12. Stay Connected with Employees
Staying connected with employees is critical for managing remote teams. Managers should take steps to ensure that they are accessible and available to their employees when needed. They should also check in regularly to see how their employees are doing and offer support when necessary.
It’s also important to encourage informal communication and social interaction. Managers can set up virtual coffee breaks or informal chat channels to help employees connect with one another on a personal level.
Managing remote teams requires a different approach than managing teams in the traditional office setting. Effective communication, setting clear expectations and goals, establishing trust, using technology, providing feedback, fostering a sense of community, being flexible, providing training and development opportunities, creating a work-life balance, fostering a positive culture, addressing challenges and conflicts, and staying connected with employees are all essential for managing remote teams successfully.
As more companies adopt remote work, it’s essential to develop the skills and knowledge needed to manage remote teams effectively. By following these best practices, managers can ensure that their remote teams are productive, engaged, and successful.