Managing a remote team requires a diverse digital tool set that expands beyond email. It also requires an understanding of the ways in which individuals on the team operate. It can be difficult, but with the right approach, you can manage your virtual workforce with efficiency and proficiency.
1. Choose from a variety of communication tools
When your team is geographically dispersed, you miss out on the impromptu conversations that occur in an office setting. You must create opportunities for your team to chat with each other both formally and informally. Depending upon your needs, choose the platform that works best:
- Chat programs: Google chat, Skype, and Slack are ideal for quick instant messaging and group chats.
- Phone calls: Some messages and conversations require voice calls. Performance issues or other potentially sensitive conversations should always be handled over the phone.
- Video chat: These work well for one-on-one conversations or group meetings.
- Project management systems: The bulletin boards and messaging capabilities on most PM platforms can replace many email conversations.
- Screen sharing tools: These systems enable you to share your computer screen so another person can see exactly what you are doing in real time.
- Collaboration tools: Google Drive, Dropbox and many PM platforms allow teams to collaborate on files so changes can be tracked while giving everyone access to the most accurate, updated version.
2. Make processes a priority
Processes are extremely important when managing a remote team. When people work independently, they fall into habits and develop their own processes that may conflict with the ways in which others are working. Managers should develop and communicate standardized processes. These can be shared and updated through a platform like a company wiki.
3. Cultivate a true “team feeling”
It will take extra effort to foster a true team feeling among remote workers. Managers must go the extra mile to make employees feel their contributions are valued and make a real difference toward achieving company goals. You can do this by:
- Communicating the vision of the company.
- Offering regular updates about how the company is doing.
- Keeping everyone involved in important events and projects.
- Share and celebrate birthdays, work anniversaries, successes and other milestones with the group.
4. Make the right hiring decisions
Not everyone is cut out for remote work. Even the most talented, promising candidate can fail if their personality is not meant for the independence of a virtual position. If you are looking to develop processes for hiring remote staff or you wish to improve any of your employment and hiring policies and procedures, consider reaching out to a recruiting and staffing agency with proven systems in place to identify candidates’ focus and motivation.
There are still many leaders who are wary of employees working as a remote team, erroneously believing that if someone is not in the office at their desk for a full work day, they are not being productive. Obviously this is not the case, as some workers with the right amount of drive can accomplish just as much, or more, as any employee in an office. As long as actual results are produced, how – and where – an employee works is largely irrelevant.