Managing remote teams is now a part of our everyday work lives. Businesses faced unprecedented challenges during the pandemic-led lockdowns of the last two years as talent literally left the building.
This has put a fear of losing out on talented workers in the hearts of bosses and managers. They want to facilitate their people to work in every way possible. According to a Gartner study, 47% of companies said they would allow their staff to work from home in the future. And that’s why remote work is here to stay.
However, managing remote and hybrid teams can get complicated fast. An SHRM study found that it was challenging for 70% of employees to adapt to remote work after the lockdown. Part of the problem is learning how to manage people they barely, if ever, get to see in person.
- Challenges of managing remote teams
- Best practices for effectively managing remote teams
Challenges of managing remote teams
Identifying the issues experienced by virtual employees is critical to understanding the measures needed to achieve effective remote workforce management. Let’s explore these issues in detail.
Remote work can be isolating, contributing to feelings of sadness, anxiety, and loneliness for specific individuals. Some people are used to the fluorescent lighting, micromanagement, and office gossip of the traditional workplace.
Aside from a few annoying aspects of working in a physical office, there is a level of social involvement. This can be helpful to employees, which is lost when your staff works remotely.
Encourage your remote employees to go hybrid and work from the office at least once a week. If that isn’t possible, ask them to join groups of like-minded individuals within your organization. This will help them foster regular social connections in the workplace.
Working from home can be problematic if your internet connection is slow or your network is down. This can cause problems when downloading files, attending meetings, or collaborating with your team, often resulting in a negative blurring of the boundaries between the home and work environments.
If their WiFi seems unreliable, offer your remote workers a chance to buy mesh systems like Amazon Eero or Google WiFi. These bring multiple wireless access points together to cover any space with strong internet signals.
Some remote employees suffer from loneliness, burnout, and even depression if there is no apparent difference between the workplace and the home.
For example, employees who work from home take calls or respond to emails while eating dinner or in the middle of other personal tasks to appear productive. These activities can harm their ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
To deal with this issue, encourage your remote workers to use their leaves and take some time off to spend with the family. Also, be flexible and plan work around their personal commitments, such as childcare.
Disruptions and obstacles
Disturbances like children, pets, roommates, and relatives can ruin even the best-laid plans of the most disciplined workers. Moreover, employees may become agitated if they see dirty dishes, clothes, or other household chores. Working from home has its perks, but in a perfect world, employees would be able to find a place in the house that is both quiet and distraction-free.
This way, a member of your remote team may become sidetracked, miss a deadline, and now both you and the rest of the team feel terrible. It might be challenging to keep remote workers productive when they aren’t gathered in one place and held to the same accountability standards.
Ask your employees to create a schedule of tasks and stick to it. This should help them stay on track and oversee their work practices. Also, help them create quiet, work-friendly office spaces in their homes where they are less likely to be disturbed or distracted by family.
Lack of communication
Managing a remote team requires a constant flow of communication. HR and team leaders face significant difficulty consistently developing two-way communication with distant personnel.
Email is often considered ideal for corporate communication but doesn’t allow for fast exchanges. Remote teams may find it convenient to communicate using Teams.
Monitoring and oversight
A standard 5-minute coffee chat allows managers in a physical workplace to rapidly assess whether or not their staff is working well or experiencing any challenges. However, this may be more difficult if your employee works from home.
Managers must conduct regular status and performance reviews with their remote staff, but they should also avoid micromanaging them too much, since it contributes to employee dissatisfaction.
Best practices for effectively managing remote teams
Managing remote teams demands a fundamental shift in your team’s approach to work reports and general strategy, which project management solutions may help you with. But this requires establishing trust that balances the need to hold staff accountable while also being empathetic.
The following recommendations help you better manage and communicate with your remote teams:
When determining what others should do in a constantly changing environment, the first step is to figure out what you should do. As a manager, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the company’s standards are applied fairly, uniformly, and objectively.
Next, make sure that each team member understands their roles and responsibilities clearly, so there is no overlap.
Streamline the onboarding process
Ongoing iteration and improvement of the onboarding process are critical to business success in terms of productivity and employee satisfaction.
Remote onboarding should be more streamlined and faster than your traditional processes. This means reduced paperwork since contracts and paperwork can be sent, signed, and filed digitally. Then, once the offer is presented and accepted, let your new hire know immediately what to expect from you and when.
If you use Microsoft Teams internally, create an onboarding team for your new hire, prepare all the required tasks, resources and other information they might need to successfully onboard. Try nBold’s Onboarding template to structure and streamline this process. Learn more.
Predictability and structure are essential to any workplace’s ability to perform at a high level. As a result of working in numerous locations, employees can get disconnected. Create a sense of unity among your team members to help alleviate this.
Employees should see where they fit in the process by having a clear meeting agenda and knowing what other people are doing.
Using nBold Collaboration Templates, you can structure your work processes more clearly. It allows you to create custom workspaces where tour team members will always know what to do and be prepared when a new project is launched.
Give your employees a chance to share their thoughts
There’s no arguing that you must lay out protocols and standards for your remote team members. However, every situation is unique, and they are the only ones who truly understand how to work efficiently and effectively.
Therefore, it makes sense to solicit their advice on how to go about developing this mode of operation. The type of communication they want and the hours they prefer to collaborate are areas where you could wish to involve your staff in the decision-making process.
Communication is the key
Keeping an open line of communication and removing communication barriers should be a priority. Workers can easily walk into their manager’s office to inquire about something if they work in the same location as the manager. On the other hand, your coworkers may not always know where you are when you’re working remotely.
Blocking specific times of the day for short meetings with your employees is a simple method to ensure consistent communication. A calendar would allow remote workers to see which blocks have been taken.
Give precedence to results over activities
While it’s tempting to keep tabs on who’s logged in and what they’re up to, mastering remote management entails learning to let the work speak for itself. Put faith in your talent management teams to assemble a skilled and responsible staff.
Managing a remote team requires this skill even if you’re not working remotely. If the work is done well and the goals are achieved, there’s no need to specify how it should be done. Everyone has different routines and environments that can promote productivity more in the early morning or late at night.
Achieve a good balance of distractions
To effectively manage a team working from home, one must first accept that there will be significantly more interruptions than in an office. It’s impossible to avoid being distracted throughout the day. When working from home, we don’t lose access to our favorite things like Twitter, Netflix, pets, kids, and the comfort of our couches.
You, as a manager, need to approve of the occasional distractions. Show your coworkers you’re okay with a bit of Twitter surfing or dog-playing time. Fighting these interruptions is pointless because they are healthy and unavoidable.
Be patient and empathic
With remote teams, organizing a project may require a new approach. Meetings in groups are going to be different. It’s not always easy to revel in victories. The best thing you can do as a manager is to exhibit empathy and compassion in your acts and conversations throughout the growing pains.
Keep in mind that some people are better at working remotely than others. Some people require the social connections provided by working in an office with a group of people they know and trust.
Spend time checking in on the team members working remotely to ensure everything goes smoothly.
Remote team management doesn’t require you to know everything about every aspect of your organization. Still, you should know what each team member is expected to do, what challenges they face, and what their responsibilities are. When you don’t have these answers, it’s impossible to demonstrate leadership or empathy.
Good communication tops the to-do list when managing remote teams. So be sure to follow up with all teams and select members regularly, optimize processes as necessary, and lead from the front to set a good example.
Your most valuable resource is your workforce. There is a lot at stake when it comes to your employees. If you put these tips into practice strategically, your team’s output will undoubtedly improve.
You got this.