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A Manager’s Guide to Manage Remote Team

August 3, 2018
16 min read
Managing Remote Teams
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Magic spell for increasing productivity, team happiness and work-life balance for remote workers.

How do you manage to have that long-distance relationship with your employees? Long distance relationships are not easy, as we expect the distance to not affect our relationship in any sense. This is true both for work and personal relationships. With the technology evolving, where the information and resources have become accessible to everyone from every nook and cranny, face-to-face working is becoming less popular.

Businesses today are embracing remote trends and are hiring top talent from different countries. And managing remote teams is the responsibility of a manager. As the manager of remote team members, your job is to nurture, guide and support team members which is a challenge in itself. This is a guide for managers to manage their remote life and make employees happier.

When the topic of remote work comes up, it’s quite common for people to be doubtful of how to work on the projects. The whole process involves connecting solopreneurs and project teams living in different countries or continents. Every individual is looking forward to endearing the culture of remote working. It becomes a tough gig to empower the teams to thrive when, for instance, an Indian sitting in Banglore is working for an American company and so on.

What is a Remote Team?

A remote team is a group of professionals from various time zones, diverse skills and different culture working together on a unified project. Each teammate working from a separate location, living in different cities, and working across time and space. Working remotely is one thing and managing a remote team is another challenge. Remote work is everywhere. There is a lot of difference when the teams are sitting right in front of the office and when they are working outside of an office.

When you are managing remote employees, you would know the challenges that come along including project management, managing teams and keeping projects on time. There is surely a lot good about the remote working culture. Here is a research on remote work:

  • A survey from ConnectSolutions: 30% says they get more accomplished in less time.
  • 82% say they experience lower levels of stress.
  • According to Harvard Business Review: 87% feel more connected thanks to new video conferencing tools.

Challenges in Managing Remote Teams

As it is becoming increasingly common for employees working remotely, challenges are taking a raise related to remote team management.

  • Lacking the right communication tool
  • Hiring the right resources
  • Missing accountability program
  • Respecting everyone’s time
  • No clear roles and tasks
  • Setting schedules
  • Difficult tracking employee performance
  • Lack of cohesion within the team
  • Making everyone feel part of the team

Problems That a Manager Has to Face to Manage a Remote Team

In this article, we will be shedding light on these challenges that the managers come across:

1. Different Time Zones

A big challenge in building a distributed team lies in poor communication over distance because of different time zones. Varying time zones leads to issues of communication.  

“Lack of communication  leads to lack of trust that leaves room for doubt.” — Amen Amare

When a manager is managing remote employees distributed globally then scheduling meetings can be tough because it is really difficult to choose a time that is convenient for all teams and for yourself.

2. Collaborating on Projects

Collaboration has often been an important part of a business and also another issue with remote teams.

“Unity is strength…when there are teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved.” — Mattie Stepanek

Lack of coordination leads to lack of project management and poorly organized projects from start to finish. When looking for remote work management, managers find it difficult to keep all the team members on the same page.

Track and collaborate online with your remote workers. Start collaborating on ProofHub today with a free trial.

3. Cultural Differences

One of the other greatest challenges in managing employees from various countries where people have a different attitude towards careers, and families  differ in boundaries.

“Once you understand and appreciate other people’s cultural backgrounds, then you can also connect with them more.”

In coordinating a global workforce, managers usually lack an understanding of managing cultural differences. People from different cultures have different work ethics and it is astonishing how they approach their work day.

Working with remote teams has never been easier but it is certainly not as hard as many managers may imagine. Here are some major tips on how managers can manage remote employees at your fingertips:-

4. A Program That is See-Through

When working with a remote development team, team members have an incredible amount of freedom to work. But how do we know if people are doing work and going to deliver the tasks on time? It is one of the biggest fears because of lack of visibility and control. Thus, for the remote teams to exist and thrive, transparency and accountability are critical factors.

However, to facilitate transparency in a remote environment, you need to follow the following tips:

  • Set up clear project roles and responsibilities
  • Discuss with team members their specific goals in the project to keep everyone accountable
  • Write down working schedule, holidays, meeting and other ground rules of teams
  • Bring out in-house recruitment process
  • Track key metrics of the project
  • Try to oversee problems

5. Have Regular One-on-One

Since you are working remotely with your teams, you won’t have the moments to talk about issues. So, give more time to employees for one on ones, give them the time to contact you on Skype or any other app without confliction of time zones. Always turn your availability on to as your employees will have no idea when your door is open actually. Give them one day in a week for one-on-one to discuss their issues and you can give them your instructions. This will cover various important topics of discussions because of not being merely present in the office.

6. Rely on Right Remote Work Tools

Are your workers using the right tools for remote teams to collaborate effectively? Today’s technology has made it possible to have a productive team globally and using the right tools will help to organize remote work and keep everyone on the same page. Trusted by millions, ProofHub will put everything you need at one place. You can use ProofHub tool for chat, task management, proofing, project management and many more.

7. Work on Team Bonding

When working with remote teams, you cannot have that washroom meeting and talk to each other, or gather around the water cooler to know each other or enjoy the happy hours after office. So, for have the team bonding you need to stay connected with your team. Try these methods:

  • Once a year face-to-face get together

Try to have a retreat once a year for team bonding. This is very important for all remote workers. Keep the energy high and have big discussions around that would be difficult to do with employees working in different parts of the countries.

  • Say hi

When asking your employees about work update, do not forget to say hi, how they are doing. Do not communicate as if you are talking to robots, they are humans, talk to them like humans and try to build a team.

  • Celebrate their victories

Though, it won’t be possible to meet up and celebrate their victories. But you can surely send emails, GIFs or notes to appreciate them for their work and your victory.

The last tip: Be honest! Be honest with your workers and be honest with your expectations.

You need to be a proactive leader for managing remote teams. Striking a work-life balance is important for all remote workers. Try to get the best for your teams.

Remote Work Management: How to Manage Remote Teams

Companies like Aha, NationBuilder, Automatic Buffer and many more are successfully working as 100% remote companies. Still, many companies are going through thick and thin to successfully run around as remote working companies. If you are constantly wondering “How to Manage Remote Teams” and are looking for some ideas about how teams have successfully set themselves remotely, we have got you some tips.

Best Practices for a Remote Team Management

1. Set Boundaries with Remote Workers

Remote teams often need some kind of boundaries to outline their work and personal life. As the teammates are working from different time zones any notifications or chat message or emails can ruin someone’s sleep or disturb their family time. Discuss work schedules with each team member by respecting their time and show them that you care for their time. This will help in building positive relationships with employees making sure nothing is too hard for anyone.

2. Encourage and Embrace Diversity

It is of no surprise to come across cultural obstacles when managing remote teams. The problem with multicultural teams involves misunderstandings and conflicts that divide the teams apart. It becomes pretty hard to manage the people of different races, embracing cultural diversity to allow team building.  A simple way is to find how different people from different areas are open to receive feedback, promote a mindset of celebrating differences, be respectful about national holidays for your global team, and respect every cultural difference

3. Set Expectations Early and Clearly

Every business has expectations: whether working remotely or virtually. Being clear with employees will keep them focussed working towards the same goals.

You should set clear expectations for:

  • Work hours
  • Availability
  • Communication system
  • Timely meetings
  • Key projects and deadlines
  • Scheduled meetings
  • Respond to email

4. Brush Up on Your Online Communication Skills

Many remote working teams come across a setback in communication when working on projects. It is always going to be difficult to connect with your teams in different areas without having good communication skills. And of course, online communication skills. As you start with the conversation, be quick and concise, so the teams do not get confused. Develop your writing skills, talk precisely, use the right remote collaboration tools to collaborate effectively as awesome communication is vital in the remote workplace.

Make great communication a top priority. Start using ProofHub Chat.

5. Give Them Help When They Need it

Being out of sight, you may have to struggle to address the needs of every employee. Though you may be out of sight, don’t ever let them be out of your mind. Unexpected problems related to project, or a teammate or how the work is being done are common in every business. If something is really bothering your employees or they’re feeling under the weather, understand the clues they might be giving you and give them a helping hand.

6. Invest in the Right Remote Project Management Software

Your remote team working culture will flourish when you have everything under one roof. And this can be made possible when you rely on remote team management software to plan tasks, projects, and even people. Here’s what you can do on a project management software:

  • Communicate with your scattered team
  • Keep a track of project evolution
  • Track productivity
  • Maintain and manage timesheets
  • Share information in real time
  • Have discussions
  • Manage the tasks on a task list
  • Interact across different time zones

Organize all your project activities with a project management software. Try ProofHub

Learn about everyone

It becomes much simpler to know a person who is sitting whole day beside you. You work together, spend hours together and you start knowing them in and out, their strengths and weakness and what personality they possess. But when working remotely you will have to try a little to know about your team. You will never know when you actually want to know. Make it a point to have a discussion that gives you a learning about their personality. Do not try to know unwanted things that may bug them. This will grow a positive culture with your remote team.

As the market is going global, so your team should. And when you have to manage your remote team, make sure you know their pulses. Having the right tips and trick on how to effectively manage remote employees, you should be ready to create an energetic business with your remote workers. You can do wonders for your business by remote working if you are ready to put those little extra efforts and drive your team towards success.

If your remote team is already working at peak, what are your amazing tricks and tips for managing remote team at the best?

Good luck for your remote working culture!