The majority of organizations function best with strong teams at their foundation. Collaboration, ingenuity and innovation are all potential outcomes of workplace teams, but they only take place on a consistent basis when teams are managed well. A multitude of resources exist for managers meant to assist in making teams perform at their best, but there are fewer helpful guides when it comes to managing teams that work outside a traditional office structure.
To help manage your remote workforce, we have compiled a list of to-dos for this growing trend in the workplace.
Be Clear about Expectations
One of the most challenging aspects of managing a remote team is the ability to assign and monitor work in an efficient way. Managers of remote teams can ensure their employees are all working toward the same end goal by clearly identifying expected outcomes early in the game. Whether it be in sales, marketing efforts or new back-end system implementation, creating objectives that are in line with overarching company goals is the first step in successfully managing remote teams. Managers must also be prepared to share timelines for progress and expected results at the onset of any new project with their remote workforce. Being diligent about providing clear expectations helps in reducing missed deadlines, unnecessary work and above all else, worker morale.
Don’t Shy away from Face-time
Remote teams both large and small often work through technology-based channels which can lead to missed opportunities for non-verbal communication. While a text message, online chat or e-mail can provide a streamlined method for sharing updates on work-related tasks, face-to-face interactions are often necessary to get a true feel for what or how someone is thinking. Managers of remote teams can utilize a number of video conferencing software applications to pick up on these non-verbal cues, regardless of where employees or contractors are located.
Optimize Available Tools
Remote teams are made possible through the countless number of software applications and web-based technology tools readily available to businesses of any size. However, an organization is only successful in managing remote workers when the right tools are being used. For instance, organizations who want to take the pain and burden out of the payroll process can utilize this online tool without putting strain on the company’s bottom line. Similarly, internal messaging applications, accounting software and task management tools are all available to help managers successfully manage work being performed by remote freelancers or employees.
Keep Communication a Priority
As with on-site management, communication is one of the building blocks to organizational success. Remote teams need to know that managers are available when clarification or direction is needed; likewise, management needs to be able to connect with a remote team when changes are made or deadlines are approaching. To keep the lines of communication open between management and remote teams, it is beneficial to establish regular meeting times, either via chat, conference or video calls, and remain consistent with that communication schedule. Providing the opportunity for one-on-one communication is also necessary when working with remote teams, above and beyond scheduled team meetings.
Managing a remote workforce does not have to present insurmountable challenges simply because workers are not all located in a single office location. Instead, managers can lay out expectations with all members of the team, and create the right opportunities for face-to-face interaction. Additionally, implementing suitable tools for remote team management and keeping the lines of communication open lend a big hand in keeping both managers and workers on the same page.