7 Essential Tips to Manage an Effective Remote Team
Today, technology keeps progressing at breakneck speed. As such, more and more businesses need to leverage more digital skills. Thanks to the Internet, those with the required digital skills do not necessarily need to be physically present to do their jobs. Consequently, companies, brands, and entrepreneurs have taken to hiring more remote roles. So much so that a solid 29% of all the jobs posted on AngelList in 2019 were remote.
Year after year, the number of remote jobs people get hired for increases. It is hardly surprising because remote jobs do have their advantages for the hirer and the hired. However, there are a couple of challenges related to remote jobs that a lot of people are keeping quiet about. These challenges range from difficulty in time management for the hired and the challenge of monitoring progress for the hirer. As such, you must learn how to manage a remote team.
How can you manage a remote team?
Working at the office had always been the sole means of getting work done in a corporate organization. This was before the emergence of advanced information communication technology and online entrepreneurship.
However, now, things have changed. People are more flexible with their work environment, but to manage this properly, you need to know a few things.
We sat down with a couple of digital marketing mentors who have had considerable success managing remote teams. And we have compiled our findings in the list below.
Whether you are outsourcing to a freelancer who would give you a pro forma invoice or an actual employee, here are seven tips that can help you manage a remote team effectively:
1. Ensure that you are easily accessible
People who work for you remotely are not in the same place as you are. Those who are with you physically at the office see you almost all the time. They can easily walk into your office to make inquiries or give a progress report of sorts. However, a remote worker does not exactly have that luxury. He is a few, or several as the case may be, miles away from you. In business, like virtually every other area of life, communication is vital.
If your remote workers cannot access you easily, there is the chance that work will lag as a result. You will be unable to approve documents. They, in turn, will be unable to move on with work that needs to be done. Unfortunately, there will always be slackers who would take the opportunity of your unavailability to slow down work output.
As such, you have to ensure that your workers can contact you easily. Maybe not all the time. No one wants incessant calls at 2 am when they’re not working night shifts. However, during work hours, don’t ghost them.
2. Communicate as often and as effectively as you can
In business, communication is vital. It is very crucial to ensure that work gets done effectively. Unfortunately, when working with remote teams, some people tend to forget this, and they leave things to play themselves out.
It is not enough to be accessible. Leaving your phone on so you can receive calls would really not do anything if you make no effort to contact them either. Remember that they are working remotely. They tend to get distracted. Connect as often as possible and find out how things are going. When you receive a result you are not too satisfied with, communicate your opinion as well as possible. We cannot overstate the importance of this.
3. Try to curb multitasking
Most of the time, remote workers see working remotely as an opportunity to get more work done. As such, they sometimes multitask. This reduces productivity levels. Having lost enough to CAC, you really cannot afford to lose more to their unproductivity resulting from multitasking. It can be difficult stopping them from multitasking when you don’t see them. Nonetheless, a good way of doing this is by video calling instead of voice only when you want to pass relevant information. That way, you can be sure they are listening.
4. Be sensitive to time zones
The Internet has practically turned the entire world into one huge global village. As a result, you can have people working for you from halfway across the planet. You must be sensitive to this. While you are up and “ready to go get ‘em,” your employee might have just finished tucking her little boy in. She would most likely not want to start working then. So, pay attention to their daytimes and night times. That way, you can get maximum productivity.
5. Meet physically as often as possible
Working remotely is great. However, at our core, we are social beings, and we need human interaction. Alongside that, meeting physically is great for team-building. It could be every three months. It could be quarterly. Nevertheless, whenever you can, try to bring everyone together for a meeting. It does not necessarily have to be for business.
6. Be more focused on goals than activities
Some remote workers tend to distribute their time “oddly.” They can spend the whole day in their comfort zones and not achieving too much but then stay up the whole night working. If you place a call to someone like that and see that s/he isn’t working, there is a tendency that you will be outraged. After all, you are paying them.
Sadly, this outrage would not make much of a difference. As such, after setting the goals for your workers, simply allow them to achieve them on their own terms but within the deadline. If they do not meet the set goals, you can then go ahead and apply appropriate sanctions.
Setting key performance indicators also help to ensure workers meet their goals. If you’re an online marketing company, for example, and you have a website developer building an online e-commerce store for a client, setting e-commerce KPIs will help keep him/her on track even if s/he’s working remotely.
7. Keep your expectations clear
This would include everything from the time you will be available to the meeting periods and everything else in between. They work remotely, and they most likely have other things they do with their time. If they are going to be efficient, they need to be able to plan. To do so, they need to know when you want to do so and so.
When it comes to managing people, it takes quite a bit of skill. People even go so far as to take management courses online with certifications to understand how to go about it. However, with consistency, effort, and the tips listed above, it is a process that is easily achievable.