A comprehensive guide on how to manage remote teams?

Managing and engaging a remote team as a leader is different for a number of reasons, but the primary being: there’s no face-to-face interactions.

While working together in an office, it is easy to simply walk up to someone for guidance or support, but this simple process turns into planning and scheduling meetings and following up when you’re working online.

So, needless to say managing and engaging a remote team requires different skills and practices.

Establish a condusive communications channel

There isn’t anything called over-communication while you’re working remotely. Schedule recurring daily, weekly, or bi-weekly meetings to ensure you’re on the same page. Some of the questions you need to ask are:

  • What’s the update on the on-going project?
  • What’s the update on the on-going project?
  • What dependencies do you have and on whom?
  • What support do you need from me?
  • What would be your priorites in this week?

Open communication would help employees understand what is expected from them in the short- and long-term.

Lookout for the hints for stress

Working remotely can be isolating. The nondescript office banter, no matter how banal it might seem, is important; not just for the sake of building office friendships, but for creating an engaging environment where each member of the team is supportive of each other. But when you’re working remotely for a long duration or permanently, this sense of kinship with your peers is lacking.

So it is important for leaders to stay on the lookout for hints of distress in your employees. Learn how to breach sensitive conversations and let your employees know that it is okay to take mental health days. Moreover, you can suggest alternate working models to your employees to avoid burn out.

Focus on the output, not the process

While working remotely, people are often juggling their professional and personal life at the same time. A number of people would have parental duties to cater to, too. What this means is that your team might work on times not suitable for you and they might be unavailable for some meetings.

Schedule meetings at a previously-approved time, use collaborative tools and technology to present to each other, and have faith in your employees.

Brian Kropp, Vice President, Research, Gartner, believes that what’s getting done is more important than how your team does it. Communicate to them effectively what’s expected from them so they can schedule how and when to do it.

Increase Recognition

Recognition serves two purpose: employees feel motivated and more engaged towards their work and other team members understand what behaviour they have to emulate.

In the remote working scenario, this desire for being recognized increases by 30% according to a recent survey by Gartner. In a traditional set up, managers recognized and identified their the efforts of their employees within the office space. Informally, too, a simple ‘good work’ in front of the team works wonders, too. However, the physical space isn't a possibility while working remotely, so you, as a leader, would have to set up formal ways you can recognize their work.

Since there’s a lack of visibility while working remotely, ask your employees if they had any hindrances while working and whether their peers tried to help them. This way, you’d be able to recognize efforts and behaviour worth rewarding and share those accomplishments with teams.