Managing Remote Teams Successfully: Essential Advice from Our Nearshoring Experts
Covid-19 has been a turning point for just about all industries—especially when it comes to the way we need to approach team management. If there’s a silver lining to the coronavirus pandemic, it’s the momentum it gave to remote work as a viable alternative to in-office teams.
Frankly, it’s cheaper and more efficient to allow employees to work from home. Remote work might not deliver the level of togetherness that conventional offices do, but it can come pretty close. In many ways, a remote team can function even better than an on-site one.
That, however, is up to a team’s manager. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best ways to manage a remote team and keep it running like a well-oiled machine.
Set clear expectations and procedures
Don’t let anything get lost in translation after switching to remote communication. Set clear project roles for each team member with responsibilities and duties laid out in detail. Everyone should know what’s expected of them for each task and by when.
With this approach, it’s important to be outcome oriented though. Remote work may be a major adjustment for some people, so being flexible in terms of scheduling and allowing them to log their own hours is key.
Your team should feel like you trust them. If they don’t, they won’t be inclined to give it their all each day.
It’s also a good idea to set parameters for communication. With people spread out over different cities and different countries, holidays, working schedules, and acceptable correspondence times should be clarified.
You don’t want employees feeling bothered about having to answer messages outside of their shift. Offering a certain amount of leeway will alleviate any pressure from receiving direct messages while off-duty, and will provide structure for the process.
Track productivity and metrics
Once your team is working online, it’ll be crucial to not let anything fall by the wayside. That’s not to say you should start micromanaging your employees, but staying on top of all relevant metrics will provide the data you need in order to make assertions about how your team is doing, who’s pulling their weight, and who deserves recognition for their achievements—which brings us to our next tip.
Great communication is paramount
When it comes to remote work, communication is the lifeblood of your team. Team members should actively be communicating with each other, and you should be communicating with each of them too.
You can, of course, delegate the task of regular communication to department leaders, but you should be having an occasional video call with those directly under your supervision. Face to face communication through video conferences fills the void left by not being able to see or hear each other as you and your team may have been accustomed to. In fact, a study conducted by Harvard Business Review found that 87% of remote employees feel a greater sense of connection when video conferencing.
On top of that, employee recognition is essential. Any landmarks should still be celebrated accordingly, and even minor achievements should be recognized and praised in a way that makes team members feel appreciated. This will ultimately reduce turnover rates, and help sustain a happy and productive work relationship.
Lastly, taking the time to get to know each of your employees is a great way to foster a more cohesive unit. Have the discussions and small talk that will let your team view you as a friendly manager, not someone who’s all work, no play.
A technique you can use to encourage bonding is to simply ask, “How are you?” This small gesture has great implications about who you are as a person, and more importantly, who you are as a leader.
Equip your team with the right tools and technology
Choosing the right collaborative software for your needs is key. It’ll allow you to streamline communication and work processes all in one place. And since your remote collaboration software will be cloud-based, you’ll be able to access it from anywhere at any time, on virtually any device.
Some of the best collaboration tools are Slack, Wrike, Zoom, and Google’s new version of Hangouts Chat. Once you establish your team using one or more of the above tools, you can set up channels or project-specific discussion rooms where selected members can collaborate using a variety of features.
Promote the organization’s work culture
Once your team is established on your platforms of choice for work from home, a social channel or chat room is a great way to support and maintain company culture. For example, you could have a chat room like #watercooler, where team members can share non-work related things like pictures, articles, and generally shoot the breeze.
It’ll also be essential to uphold any company goals. Don’t lose sight of any company values with the switch to remote teams. For instance, if volunteering, canned food drives, or any efforts to go green were part of your company culture before the shift to online work, be sure to echo their importance and maintain a level of support for those causes.
Get the right talent and trust them to deliver
Online employees need to take initiative in order to provide high quality work consistently, so finding and hiring the right staff is critical. To do that, you need to leverage the remote workforce. Outsourcing and staff augmentation is not only a great way to accomplish that, but it also saves a significant amount of money.
However, you should make sure that your remote employees are in the same time zone as you or at least close to it. That way, there won’t be any hiccups in communication. For this reason, nearshoring can be the best outsourcing option.
Nearshoring provides the best of both worlds: affordable yet highly qualified talent that works the same hours as you do, ensuring seamless communication.
The transformation from conventional office to home office can be a little jarring for some, but with a well-considered strategy and a bit of patience, you can successfully manage your team remotely. Keep the above tips in mind, and if you have any questions or would like some additional help, get in touch with us and we’ll be glad to provide professional advice about how to best manage your team.