How to Manage a Remote Team in 2021

Working with a team that is scattered all over the globe isn’t so easy. And managing a remote team can be even more challenging.

Thanks to the revolutionary pandemic, most businesses have been forced to go remote whenever possible.

But it’s not such a bad thing.

With the right approach and methods, your remote team can be even more productive than their in-house counterparts.

Here are some simple but effective practices of cranking out the best out of your remote team.

1. Start with the right team

That’s kind of a no-brainer, isn’t it?

As tough as it may be to swallow, not everyone is built for remote work. So, before you go too far (if you’re in the process of hiring), make sure that you hire people who are suited for remote work.

So, what attributes should you look out for? Well, for starters, they should be able to work efficiently with very little supervision. They should also be effective planners and communicators who understand the importance of planning ahead and asking questions when in doubt.

But that’s not all – a good team member should also be growth-oriented, willing to learn new things, and adapt to new environments and lifestyles. Finally, they should be humble enough to accept constructive criticism.

2. Clearly define your company’s vision and culture

For any company to be successful, they need to have a clearly defined reason for existence and goals to be achieved. And this couldn’t be more important in a remote team setting where the sense of “culture” can be easily lost.

A clear understanding of the company’s mission, vision, and culture can help guide the kinds of ideas and products being generated.

But for everyone to be on the same page, you have to play your part by effectively communicating and emphasizing your company’s culture and purpose.

In this case, it helps to have an employee handbook that spares no detail regarding what the company stands for and the code of conduct among team members.

3. Synchronize your work schedules

If you’ve ever worked with employees from all parts of the world, then you know it’s not very easy to keep everyone on the same page and on time.

That is why the success of your business depends on working around these time differences and carving out at least a few hours per day when the whole team can brainstorm together.

It goes without saying that you need to be considerably flexible with your schedule to accommodate everyone. But as a rule of thumb, aim for at least 4 hours per day when every team member is available, mark it on everyone’s calendar and ensure everyone maximizes it. You can use free scheduling app to keep track of everything and not miss anything important.

4. Make communication effective and easy

If there is no effective communication, you can be sure that, at the very least, your team won’t perform efficiently. And since in-person chat is mostly impossible, effective communication is even more important for a remote team to avoid misunderstandings and isolation of team members.

So, for starters, leverage communication tools and collaboration tools (like Trello, Zoom, Monday.com, dropbox, etc.) to make idea sharing and reporting seamless. You may also want to invest in high-speed internet for your team members, especially those in remote locations with bad reception.

Also, when dishing out tasks, be sure to be very clear about the deliverables and deadlines, and encourage questions. But don’t stop there – check in with your team members from time to time to know how things are moving or if they need any help.

5. Give them some space

Although it’s important to consistently check in with your team regarding their progress, you have to be careful not to overdo it.

The truth is nobody likes being micromanaged. So, asking your employee for an update every couple of hours is probably not a good move.

An easy way to effectively monitor your workers without constantly “looking over their shoulders” is to make use of the right employee monitoring techniques and tools.

This way, you know how long each person works and what they spend their time working on. Milestones are also a great idea, especially for big projects with multiple phases.

6. Be dedicated to your team’s growth

One of the easiest ways to keep your team happy, motivated, and loyal is to show them that you care about their career growth.

According to a 2018 report by LinkedIn, 94% of employees would show long-term commitment to an employer if the company invested in their professional development.

Although your team members may possess a high skill level today, their skills may become obsolete in a few years if they don’t undergo continuous training.

So, consider enrolling your team members in online courses, especially those on emerging technologies, tools, frameworks, and applications. Although it may be cost-intensive to keep your team up-to-date, the long-term benefits far outweigh the initial investments.

7. Nothing Beats In-Person Meetings

All your team might be working hundreds or even thousands of miles apart. But grab the first chance you get to bring them together for an in-person retreat.

It makes a huge impact on the bonding and interaction between your team and you will see this  difference post-retreat.

Also, when it is not possible to meet in-person, organizing various virtual team building activities would help bring your team together.

Some small acts like ice-breaker questions can improve everyone’s mood in the virtual meetings.

Celebrating wins, appreciations and small rewards can keep them motivated and focused. All these activities also help in keeping high employee retention rate.

The Bottom Line

Managing a remote team doesn’t have to be a nightmare. Although, you might find it difficult at the start, but, eventually you will figure it out.

You just need to make sure you are doing everything to make them feel a part of the team and the company without being left isolated and burned out.

With the right processes and tools in place, your team will be motivated, productive and efficient for years to come.

About the author:

Vaishali Badgujar is a content marketer at Time Doctor, a SaaS time tracking & productivity tool for companies & freelancers. She is a content marketing expert, specializes in link building and blogs at GrowthWonk.