10 Tips for managing a Remote Team
It has been emphasised time and again that having a remote team to get projects done is a very beneficial matter. Though who have hesitated to maintain a remote team, have slowly entered the foray, realising the importance of maintaining one. However, it is only natural that not seeing your team actually work does bring some degree of apprehension, because you don’t know what they are actually doing when they claim working hours. This is called remote work anxiety, and it is very real. Interestingly, while managers worry about the productivity of their team, the teams also worry about remote work. Let’s examine what their fears could be:
Challenges faced by remote workers while working away from their office
Oftentimes, the worries of remote workers are not addressed. Let’s check out a few of them:
1. Virtual meetings does have its toll
It is imperative for managers to have daily work meetings to check the progress of their remote workers. But endless virtual meetings can take its toll because it could affect their productivity. Also, they are not actually seeing anyone, and that could be torture for people who like to work around people. However, you can solve this problem by investing in proper communication tools that would let people see the people they are working with so there will be better productivity through regular updates.
2. Technical Challenges
Employees working from the office do not have to worry about working equipments and other paraphernalia. But when at home, the employee will have to manage the technical complexities and manage the technical hiccups and interruptions. If security breaches happen, they will have to coordinate with the system administrator from afar, and get it solved. If the worker is not fully technically competent, they have a tough time going through the glitches. However, if you have a team working remotely, ensure they are good with handling technical challenges, and create security protocols for them to follow in case of security breaches.
3. The lines get blurred
Working from home is not good for the workaholic. Over time their productivity gets affected, because they spend all their free time in front of work, and that takes a toll. They might put off social life and relationships at home could get strained. True, they don’t have to commute to and from work, but the commuting time is actually good for them to get relaxed and get ‘out of the work’ mindset.
4. Trust issues
It is not easy to build trust when everyone is at different places. While managers worry about the competence of their workers, the workers worry about whether their work will be accepted or if they will be paid on time.
These are just a few of the challenges that the workers might face, but of course, it would vary depending on what kind of work you assign them with, but make sure your employees and temporary staff are comfortable with their work environment.
Knowing the challenges would make managing the workers easier
Once you know what goes through the minds of your team, it would be easier to tap into their potential, and get them to deliver what is exactly needed. So here are some useful tips on how to manage the team well:
1. Create a flexible schedule that works for all
Workers work best when they have a flexible schedule. Since they work from home, they can create a schedule that works for all, even when you have daily meetings. They can plan their daily schedule knowing what work has to be completed, and still do other errands too.
2. Make the best use of technology
Productivity spurts when the team members are in constant communication with each other. So use all the technology that’s at disposal so the work environment is almost like they are all working in the same place. Use technology wisely so the team members can work autonomously, and still be held accountable for corporate goals. One of the challenges in remote work scenarios is lack of communication and this can be cleared with updated technology.
It is true that virtual communication is often the breeding ground for miscommunication because when people don’t see each other, it can be harder to talk things through, because what they mean to communicate is often not what the other person understands. Using video conferencing tools can bridge this gap to a certain extent.
3. A human centric approach for mental health
Working remotely is an isolated scenario for most people. So the managers must be careful to render a human-centric approach to encourage team productivity. Poor mental health care affect work even if the employee is brilliant and have the capacity to solve critical problems. Regular check-ins would help boost morale.
4. Do your people know how to manage themselves?
The people you hire must know how to manage themselves. If you have one weak member, it could affect the whole team negatively. Hiring a remote team could be tricky when you try to do it yourself. The traditional method of hiring isn’t always workable because you might not knowntheir previous experiences or the universities they attended. You can solve this problem by partnering with a reliable vendor because they will have completely studied the applicants before assembling a good team to hire for you. This makes things easier for you since you can always choose the mix of traits suitable for you.
5. Need resources if they don’t have them
Sometimes, remote teams do not have good resources that would enable them to work ceaselessly. They might need new technology as per the demands of their project. If you are looking for expected work, you might need to provide them with the technology. Set the team for success, and you will get success.
6. Social interactions are a must
People who work together need to get to know each other. Team managers who had teams for longer periods need to arrange a social interaction program every now and then through Zoom meetings so there are some fun social interactions. It is important to find time for these things however tight the schedules are.
7. Accept cultural differences and embrace them
Some of the typical remote team problems stem when the team managers do not understand, recognise or respect cultural differences. You might have to work with people from different parts of the world, and they might have beliefs that need to be recognised. People get very offended when you don’t do that.
8. Automate tasks
There are tools to automate management tasks. Use them to manage project sprints, and to help team members know what their designated tasks and responsibilities are. This would help avoid confusions, and everyone knows what’s in the pipeline. This can also help avoid frequent check-ins or frequent status meetings.
9. Have clear communication strategies
Since communication is mostly done online, make sure there are clear cut strategies so nobody misses it. All communication must be in the written form, so there will be a recorded form of what transpired during each meeting/discussion. Each bug must be recorded, and the actions taken, noted. Tools like Slack and Trello are perfect for this.
10. Establish a process so everyone’s productivity increases
Each person works best when they have their own style and freedom. Give them tasks and responsibilities, and let them work at their own pace. Let them feel empowered, and let them have their own method of completing the tasks. It will boost their productivity.
The author: Sascha Thattil works at Software-Developer-India.com which is a part of the YUHIRO Group. YUHIRO is a German-Indian enterprise which provides programmers to IT companies, agencies and IT departments.