The past few years have proven that a work-from-home setup is here to stay. With that, managing remote teams has been very crucial for most companies. Remote work has increased by 91% over the past decade, and about 12% of companies worldwide are operating fully in such a setting. Even employees have seen the benefits of working remotely, with about 97% agreeing to a partial remote location.
But despite its upward trend and apparent success, most businesses still need to navigate their way through remote management. To help your operations gauge this unique setting, we must first ask the question: What is a remote team? And how does Remote Work Management occur?
Remote Team and Management: Its scope and definition
A Remote Team consists of professionals from various locations, time zones, and diverse backgrounds that were hired to work together and share responsibilities toward a common objective. Unlike the idea of working in a physical office setup, remote teams promote the notion of flexibility. It encourages the concept of productivity not being confined to a specific place but rather on how effectively tasks are being communicated.
But to further give you an idea of what identifies as a remote team, below are some examples:
- A business whose entire human resources are working daily in their current residence or preferred location, in similar or varying time zones.
- A business hiring part-time employees or contractors to work on projects and/or campaigns in their respective places or coworking spaces.
- A business with a physical location allows its employees the option to work from home or in places where communication between team members is still possible.
- A business with a physical location allows its salespeople to work on different sites, provided that they sustain communication with their management.
If your team observes any of the arrangements stated above, then your operation must be adept at managing a virtual work setup. Remote Team Management is one such process that helps maintain operations effectively without being limited to a physical office. It entails leaders to observe project management when carrying out tasks and promoting a culture that is inclusive of every team member involved.
However, to have a strategic Remote Team Management, we must first identify the common challenges that managers have to face in such a work setup.
Common Problems and Challenges in Managing a Remote Team
Managing any team, especially a remote one, is no easy feat. But even for companies that have already managed a work-from-home set up, they are not susceptible to the following recurring challenges:
Communication is a double-edged sword in the remote world. It is an essential factor that determines the outcome of every project, campaign, or product your company and employees are working on. But failure to sustain communication will be any business’ greatest downfall.
While technological tools are always available to help remedy the situation, problems may arise when policies or instructions are not carried out efficiently. Clarity is crucial when communicating; tools are only there to amplify it.
Tracking employee performance
In an office setting, managers can always approach their employees’ workstations to inquire about a task and the significant roadblocks they face with completing it. They have better autonomy over controlling the factors affecting their employees’ performance because they can physically see it themselves.
On the other hand, a remote setting will rely on what each team member shares during their work hours. Managers may only sometimes know how easy or difficult a task may be without asking their colleagues. Tracking their performance will most likely be based on the volume of completed projects. But identifying the reasoning behind such metrics is just as crucial for monitoring the strengths and weaknesses of each member and the team.
Managing everyone’s time
In any work arrangement, managing time hours is tricky, especially when the team you are working with is a large one. In a remote setting, managers must also be aware of the time difference on top of managing their own schedule and each of their members as well. This brings forth another pressing challenge, which is…
Finding a work-life balance
Working remotely provides ease to managers and employees to work in the confines of their homes. They wouldn’t have to spend time and resources on transportation and could always address any work issues wherever they may be. All they need is a laptop and a strong internet connection.
However, this flexibility might be disruptive to our social and personal calendars. For example, lunches and dinners can easily be made in front of our working computer instead of sharing it with family or other household members. Work emails and calls can easily be picked up during a vacation or at an important gathering. Moreover, having meetings outside of work hours might be necessary to accommodate team members from different time zones.
Improving team spirit and engagement
The physicality of an office setting provides a more direct and intimate environment for employees to express their opinions and ideas toward their colleagues. Reaching out over a video call in a remote environment might be less personal. Moreover, minding your employees’ calendars and your own creates more hindrance in building a rapport with them.
Company events that promote engagement and participation will be quite different in a remote setting. Instead of treating employees to lunch meetings or having parties to celebrate any major milestone, or having team-building activities, managers are only limited to organizing virtual meetings.
Spending working hours confined in a room, with little to no human interaction during work hours, can ultimately lead to employee burnout. Moreover, eliminating daily commutes to the office and less communication with workmates and even people outside can also be detrimental to the employees’ social and mental health. Managers must accommodate these challenges, for it may affect employee performance.
Varying employment laws and regulations
Hiring people from all over the world does provide a diverse contribution to the business. But along with it are the employment technicalities that your HR department must know to avoid legal consequences. Labor laws are varied across all countries, and your business is expected to be literate about it before even considering employing people in a definite region. Luckily, tools and services such as EOR and PEO are created to help your management overcome this hurdle. However, your business ought to learn about these regulations to stay on the safe side of compliance.
How to Manage Remote Teams?
The business world is plagued with many technological fixes to tackle the challenges mentioned earlier successfully. Especially when the nature of a virtual work setup is an online one, the first instinct business people will look into is Remote Team Management Software that will do most of the work for them.
But proper management goes beyond what technology has to offer. To effectively manage your remote teams, below are some steps to guide you through.
Provide tools for your team
Remote employees usually rely on their resources to create a conducive work environment. But it is always the management’s responsibility to provide them with the hardware and software tools to perform optimally in their daily tasks.
Generally, laptops or computer units and premium accounts for communication softwares could be included in their onboarding package. Depending on their role in the company, businesses must also subscribe to other tools that streamline their operations and processes. For example, in the case of paying remote teams, EOR or PEO services will come handy for ensuring payroll is done on time. Premium accounts to cloud-based video-conferencing and messaging tools are vital for maintaining connectivity among your team members.
Organize Social Meetings
Upon onboarding, the best way to welcome a new team member to your company is to organize a virtual team welcome meeting to create an excellent first impression. This way, employees will feel comfortable and casual with other employees, creating a more approachable environment among colleagues. It will be a good way to promote communication between team members. It will also guide them with each others’ roles and functions within the company, making it easier for new hires to identify the right person to inquire about particular concerns at work.
On top of regular work meetings, managers should also make time for catch-up calls and one-on-one meetings with each team member. This will be an avenue to check up on their well-being, ask them about their work concerns, and exchange ideas about recent projects and campaigns. This will encourage them to be innovative and open about things that might benefit the team.
Promote Accountability at work
Instead of micromanaging and checking up on each employee daily, managers and team leaders must regulate a system that will ensure Accountability for each task to be completed. For example, you may introduce a flowchart where each step will involve you and team members doing their part of a given project. Another will be a process document that will list the progression of a task: from assignment to completion to performance analysis. This will encourage employees to be accountable for their actions within the team. It is also a way to set standards and evaluate employee work performance.
Promote Social Interactions
Remote Teams tend to miss out on physically interacting with their co-workers. But there are ways to go around when cultivating a social environment for your team members to break the tension of working. Aside from catch-up calls, team leaders can also organize fun video-conferencing activities such as virtual game events, celebratory meetings, or cocktail hours. These events can stand in as team-building activities that every one of your team can enjoy.
However, organizing a team meet-up will also be ideal for your business. It will be a refreshing way to bond with your teammates and get to know them more profoundly and personally. This will boost employee morale and improve your team’s relationship further.
Although most of the challenges in a remote setting stem from how work becomes mechanical through technology, it does not mean automating processes becomes an enemy. Automating tasks eliminates unnecessary processes and streamlines the operation altogether. It saves time and effort for employees and may ultimately improve productivity.
HR functions, for one, become a tedious task for companies handling a variety of employees. But managers may skip through hours of research on labor laws and avail of PEO or EOR services to help businesses grow their global team efficiently.
Working in the comfort of your own home might be challenging when separating professional time from personal time. But compartmentalizing the two can be simple. To avoid distractions, team leaders could suggest time-boxing techniques where they allot specific tasks with time-stops, including breaks. Team members can populate these in their work calendars and share them with the team. This way, each team member respects their schedule, eliminating unwanted distractions at any time.
Grow your Team Further
Team expansion is one of the best problems to have in a remote setting. When your company needs more people to adapt to the demands of its operations, it means the business is growing and taking on a positive change. But this crucial step involves more than just hiring more people but also leveraging the current resources available.
Onboarding new talents can easily be remedied with the right HR tools and processes. But managers must also empower their current employees and help them perform their jobs optimally. Companies may organize training sessions to cultivate their growth within their teams. Moreover, they can incentivize their loyalty by offering competitive compensation based on their years of service.
Best Practices for Remote Team Management
On top of the steps managers must take when managing their remote teams, below are some quick tips that will benefit your businesses. Moreover, check out this article for a more detailed account of the best practices for remote team management.
Be clear with each person’s job responsibilities and expectations
Managing a remote team requires a rigid set of processes that each employee must observe to ensure productivity. But it will all depend on whether tasks are well defined and communicated to each team member. Managers must see that each employee understands their responsibilities well to avoid any mistakes that may stall operations.
Ensure that each employee has a grasp of each item in their tasks. Encourage them to ask questions. Brief them through the objectives and expectations of each work assignment. By doing all these, you will set an example for your employees and help refine your processes in the organization.
Offer aid for your team’s remote set-up
Are the apps and softwares needed for work already installed? Are employee accounts adequately set up? What are the protocols when accounts get hacked or employees become victims of phishing sites? These are all of the technicalities that your remote team is going to encounter. Managers must coordinate with their employees and IT managers to ensure that tools are well-installed and working.
Moreover, companies can also set a budget for employees to improve their workstations. They can provide monetary assistance for tables or chairs and even with an internet connection. These contributions will help team productivity and morale.
Maintain a result-oriented process
Results must be at the heart of your business operations, especially in a remote setup. Employees will always have their ways of completing tasks and desired outputs which managers must be open to. However, team leaders must always emphasize and appreciate the results of their hard labor more than the process it took to take there.
In this regard, managers must allot time for their employees to finish their work. This means meetings must be done sporadically. It is also a best practice to allow employees to be flexible with their working hours to attend to more pressing matters and eliminate distractions during work.
Acknowledge each employee’s work
Team leaders and Managers should promote a recognition culture where they praise their employees for a job well done. For example, leaders or even employees can write a post on their LinkedIn, company-wide group chat, or email about how they appreciate their colleague for reaching a milestone. Appreciating hard work will motivate others to extend the same effort. It also increases employee satisfaction and confidence.
Provide an avenue for your team to voice concerns
Auditing your employees’ concerns is vital in maintaining rapport with your team. Managers and team leaders can conduct a survey or even ask questions to their teams to open a discussion about their complaints and experiences with work. Use the data to improve your company’s operations and workers’ welfare. Let your employees’ ideas guide you through managing a remote team.
Let Multiplier Help you Manage your Remote Team Efficiently
Managing employees from different cultural backgrounds and locations is no easy feat. As mentioned, differing labor laws and payroll technicalities will bring in a whole set of challenges that your HR team will have to deal with.
With Multiplier, these key factors will be automated seamlessly through our SaaS-based platform. Our team of experts will support your onboarding needs across all 150+ countries. Eliminate the risk of hiring international employees on your own through our EOR and PEO services. Pay your remote employees on time and in their local currency.
Let Multiplier help you compliantly manage your remote teams! Book a demo now.
Frequently Asked Questions :
Q. How can I effectively communicate with remote team members?
Effective communication with remote team members is essential for ensuring everyone is on the same page and working towards the same business goals. Use video conferencing, establish clear communication protocols, use collaboration tools, schedule regular catch-ups, and be mindful of cultural differences.
Q. How can I keep remote workers engaged and motivated?
To keep remote workers engaged and motivated, establish clear expectations and goals, provide opportunities for professional development, encourage positive company culture, recognize and reward achievements, and encourage social connections and team building.
Q. How can I build trust with remote team members?
In order to build trust with remote team members, communicate regularly and set clear expectations. Show appreciation for the work, be transparent, and encourage a culture of collaboration and accountability within the organization.