Updated: Nov 10, 2021
Many thanks to Taseer (Taz) Ahmad from Axies Digital/Volta Blue for the guest blog below. As he rightly notes, trust is foundational to success. However, building trust takes time, thought and knowledge. Aspire MCL specialises in developing the leadership and board/team skills necessary to succeed.
Get in touch with us today and take the first step towards unleashing your potential: https://www.aspiremcl.co.uk/contact
Our Top 5 Tips for Managing Remote Teams
Since the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the way we work has been changed forever.
By the end of March 2020, there were national lockdowns taking place worldwide and millions of people were required to stay at home.
As a result, many companies were forced to ask their employees to work remotely.
Despite the pandemic, remote working was already becoming a more popular option as it provides competitive strengths, such as hiring the best talent from anywhere in the world.
With more businesses hiring remote teams, the job of the manager is also evolving.
Some managers are left confused about how they can manage people that they rarely, if ever, see in person.
Arguably, how you manage your remote team pins down to the overall company culture and attitude towards remote working, and rather than having rigid procedures in place, managers should look to set their remote employees up for success, help them thrive and build a stronger team as a whole.
Here are our top 5 tips for managing remote teams.
1. Set Clear Expectations Early
When managing a team, especially one that’s remote, it is crucial to start by setting clear expectations.
Whilst different employees have their own individual responsibilities depending on their role, every single person needs a set of guidelines that will help them stay on track.
For instance, this can be in the form of written documents, where company values are clearly stated and expectations are agreed to before they’re hired - this instantly creates a baseline for managing remote teams.
Good company values will also help your remote teams to effectively prioritise their time as well as helping managers understand when they need to get involved or when they should let a remote worker deal with a situation themselves.
As a whole, setting expectations early on will act as a set of guidelines that everyone understands, respects and ensures you’re all on the same page.
2. Have Regular Check-ins
For your remote team, having regular check-ins and one-to-ones allows you both to have positive conversations to move forward in the right direction.
It’s important that during these meetings you show that you genuinely care about your remote employee, so ask them how they are doing and if they need any support from you.
By asking these types of questions, your remote team will feel cared for and therefore show more interest in their work.
At the same time, look to see how you can make their working environment more comfortable - ask if there’s anything you can provide for a better work set up or if there’s anything you can do to improve work processes.
Again, interactions like these will go a long way in making your remote team feel valued and motivated.
We talk about how you can have these meetings by taking advantage of technology in the next point…
3. Take Advantage of Technology
As you won’t get to see your remote team on a daily basis, you won’t be able to see body language or gauge how someone is really feeling.
In the digital world we live in today, there is a huge range of technology available that allows you to have video meetings, which can be more effective than an audio-only call.
With inexpensive solutions such as Skype, Google Meet, Zoom or Microsoft teams - there’s no reason why you shouldn’t switch to video whenever you can.
During your call, if you notice something isn’t quite right, then ask the employee during the call or arrange a one-to-one to talk about it later.
All in all, video calls will give you non-verbal clues and help you to fix problems for your remote team whilst they’re still small.
Last but not least, having video call meetings will help to build trust and comfort as you can actually see each other - we all need human interaction, even if it’s online!
4. Track Productivity and Hours Worked
If you pay your remote team an hourly rate, then it only makes sense to track how many hours are being worked each day.
Generally, in an office environment, you’re able to physically see who is coming in and out of the workplace each day without necessarily having to track attendance.
However, in a completely virtual environment, it can be difficult to track hours worked, attendance and productivity.
On the plus side, some people are extremely motivated and disciplined; they can get to work on time and avoid distractions - get the job done basically.
Others, many need some accountability - they need to actually “clock in” and not have access to distractions like social media.
One good way to do this is by giving each employee a goal and allow them to work freely in their own style; depending on if you see the desired results, you may need to intervene.
5. Provide Feedback and Recognise Excellence
As we’ve mentioned before, remote teams do not have the privilege of meeting with you whenever they want or have the opportunity to interact with you informally.
Providing constructive feedback is key to making improvements, so be sure that during your one-to-one meetings, you are informing employees on what they have done well and suggest if there’s anything to be done differently.
By doing so, your remote team will understand better what is expected from them and reassurance that they’re doing a good job - leading to better productivity and engagement overall.
In line with this, you should recognise excellence and those remote employees who go above and beyond, especially during team meetings.
Good managers mentor rather than “manage” and you need to trust remote teams more than in-house employees.
Instead of micro-managing, the key takeaway is to find solutions and offer support - the more valued your remote team feels, the better quality work they will produce.
To learn more, get in touch with us today.