How To Manage A Remote Team Effectively
Working from home is great, but it presents some challenges.
11:54 23 January 2021
Every cloud has its silver linings, as they say, and most people (I think) could agree that the rise of remote working has been a positive of the COVID-19 era. If we weren’t able to work over the internet, many more jobs would have been lost when offices closed, and there are undeniable advantages to giving up the commute.
Remote workers have more free time, for a start. Instead of driving for hours each day, they can exercise, or pursue personal projects, or simply relax. And they get to save money through not needing to spend it on fuel or other transport costs. Throw in the comfort of total privacy (no bosses breathing down their necks or watching what they do) and you have an upgrade.
Is it ideal to work from home all the time? Well, not exactly. It can get lonely, and home life has its own distractions to match those of the office. But it’s a great option for workers, at least. Managers find it significantly trickier. Keeping a remote team working effectively is rather more complicated than sticking to the classic office setup.
In this post, we’re going to look at some tips for managing a remote team effectively. It should help you get your distant employees on the same page. Let’s get started.
Ensure that everyone knows their workload
When you have people gathered in an office, you can rely on each worker leaning on their colleagues when they’re uncertain about what they should be doing — and you can expect them to notice when someone isn’t handling their responsibilities. When people are scattered throughout the country (or even the world), this just isn’t possible. Autonomy is key.
The issue with autonomy is that workers aren’t always great with communication, and their self-consciousness can lead them to do nothing instead of admitting that they’re not sure what they’re supposed to be doing. It’s irrational, but it happens. This is why there’s so much value in using task management software to point everyone in the right direction.
If you implement a tool like GetBusy, you can line up automated reminders so key tasks are seamlessly prompted without you needing to do anything. And simply having a central depository for all company tasks (split by project and handler, of course) will prevent vital actions from going unmentioned and thus unaccomplished.
Make time for meaningful meetings
Companies of all shapes and sizes are holding many Zoom meetings, but how many of those actually mean something? Too many are just done for the sake of it, checking up on progress that’s already accurately recorded and taking up time that would be better spent on work. If you’re going to hold meetings, they should be more than that.
So what should your meetings involve? Well, they should be collaborative events that cover not just work but also how people are feeling. These are tough times, and a lot of people are miserable or even depressed. As a manager, you’re not 100% responsible for the mental health of your employees, but you do play a major role in determining how they feel.
Use your meetings to find out how people feel and come up with actions to help them feel more positive. This will help them personally, but it will also help the business by raising their productivity. Few things sap productivity more than feeling hopeless and directionless.
Focus on the metrics, not the methods
Bad bosses have always been obsessed with controlling their workers. They tell them how to dress, what to say, when to take breaks, and how to approach their tasks — and some of this has carried over to the remote-working standard. Now that managers can’t see exactly what their employees are doing, some have gone to extreme lengths to monitor them.
Now, this isn’t to say that monitoring isn’t useful or even important, because it’s essential. You do need to know what your employees are accomplishing and how long tasks are taking. But it doesn’t need to be done in an intrusive way. Time tracking tools like HourStack make it easy for workers to codify their productivity, and don’t require you to get involved.
And once you have that kind of tracking in place, leave people to work however they want to. Outside of deadlines and internal communications, does it matter if someone works during the day or the night? If they work a regular shift or split it into two segments with a huge break between them? Probably not — so don’t concern yourself with the methods. If someone’s getting a lot of work done using a unique approach, let them get on with it.