Running a remote team is similar to managing an in-office team; you have to make sure each member is productive, and that deadlines and goals aren’t missed.
Having your staff working remotely poses a unique set of challenges, though. You need to stay on top of these roadblocks, else your effectiveness and productivity will be affected.
But before you can properly implement remote staff management processes, it’s important to first understand the difficulties you’ll often encounter.
The Challenges of a Remote Team
One of the most common issues you’ll face is communication. Many companies with virtual teams struggle with it, especially when members are separated by time zones. The use of different platforms (e.g. emails, chat software, and productivity apps) can complicate the matter as well. Some messages may be overlooked if there are too many apps to deal with.
Scheduling conflicts can happen as well, and if your team is made up of people from different cultures, then there might be language and cultural barriers.
You may also find it difficult to monitor employee performance without using time-tracking software. Note, however, that using such programs can cause tension or resentment if not deployed properly. Cohesion and trust issues may arise from time to time.
Dealing with all these challenges requires organisation, focus, consistency, and finesse in using online communication and productivity tools.
Once you’re aware of the common challenges, you have context when discussing the top mistakes to avoid in managing your remote team. By steering clear of these potential blunders below, you’re sure to hit your immediate and long-term operational targets.
Not Streamlining Communication Processes
Don’t overwhelm your remote team with too many communication tools. It’s better to stick to one productivity tool that enables message sending and monitoring the progress of tasks in one place.
Trello, Slack, and Google Drive are great examples of these. It’s best to just use one email platform and video conferencing tool as well. This way, your people need not track so many things, which inhibits mistakes.
Make it a point to not limit your communications to digital text only. While emails and chat messages have their place in the remote workplace, face time is still essential. This can promote a more human connection between you and your team members.
After all, text and email messages can’t convey deeper communication contexts and body language. A video call or an in-person meeting (where possible) will remedy that problem.
Lastly, don’t make your communication channels strictly formal. Some bosses insist on using chat apps for work only. However, you should provide space for more catch-up conversations among your team members. These happen naturally and spontaneously in an office. But these types of communication need a more structured approach when it comes to managing remote workers.
During your regular online meetings, be sure to allow some time for everyone to catch up with each other and see what’s going on in their lives. Have informal meetings occasionally and discuss things like sports, cultural attractions in each member’s hometown, family, and anything that can promote camaraderie and a more open type of communication.
Shoddy Performance Management Strategies
There’s a tendency for remote workers to slack off when there are no proper performance trackers in place. Take note, however, that most people who choose to work remotely prefer freedom and flexibility. So, if you employ too many stringent trackers, your team may feel suffocated or micromanaged.
Therefore, you have to achieve a tight balancing act when it comes to monitoring performance, boosting productivity, and implementing fair employee assessments. Online daily huddles and weekly feedback can be helpful to keep your people on track and motivated to hit their goals. Monthly conferences to discuss goals and commend those who did well are also a great idea.
Productivity monitoring tools can be helpful when the job requires detailed tracking of work hours. But if you can provide more flexibility to your team and not make them feel like you’re always peeking over their shoulders (even virtually), then do so.
Not Making Your Expectations and Directions Clear
A remote team will thrive when given clear directions and expectations. Don’t give vague instructions and expect everyone to figure things out. Note that time, cultural, and language differences can make things confusing. Prevent things from going wrong by itemising what you want your team to do.
Set clear deadlines, provide work samples if you can, and encourage your members to clear details with you if there’s anything they don’t understand. Use the right project management tools to help you out.
Make sure you keep everyone updated with any ongoing task that concerns them and follow up. Set up accountability measures as well to keep everyone doing what they’re supposed to.
Managing a remote team can be super rewarding once you implement the right systems that benefit this arrangement. Don’t approach this like you would a team in a physical office. Learn the unique challenges of having remote workers and rise to the occasion by avoiding the mistakes outlined above.
Once you do, you’ll enjoy the flexibility and agility that a remote team offers. Manage them well and your business will grow and thrive in this increasingly internet-driven world. Remote Workmate fills in those roles for you as we search and screen top candidates for your needs.