More and more businesses are working with remote teams due to the flexibility in hiring and recruiting and the reduction in overhead costs. They’re also discovering that there are significant differences between managing a remote team and an in-person group.
One of the main challenges businesses face is ensuring that remote teams work when they’re supposed to and hit their deadlines. After all, it’s a lot easier to shirk responsibilities when you don’t have to deal with someone in-person. Here are some tips for circumventing that issue and managing a remote team effectively.
How to Organize Remote Teams to Fulfill Deadlines on Time:
Use Tracking Tools
Before diving into management practices and ensuring everyone knows what’s expected of them, it’s essential to have the right tools in place for remote team management. First and foremost, using a time tracking tool will help keep employees honest. For example, using Clockspot: Online Time Clock & Employee Timesheet Software can identify who is working on what project and for how long. There’s even a sophisticated GPS project that shows where the employee is working.
In addition to time tracking tools, it’s important to have practical methods of communicating, such as video meeting software and cloud-based project management tools like Trello. This ensures that everybody is connected and that there are no excuses for not getting things done.
Clearly Define Expectations
Having clearly defined deliverables and expectations create a centralized understanding of what should be happening in a project. Being clear also ensures that there is no ambiguity and nothing is lost in translation when discussed online (hence the need for video messaging software). Remote team members should feel empowered and comfortable enough to consider when they don’t understand something so that it can be resolved with a simple phone call.
Having clearly defined expectations also allows for a team member to manage those expectations and communicate if there is a delay and why. As various project components are often dependent on one another, a system error or missed deadline by another team member can affect someone else’s timeline. By communicating these problems, the rest of the team can shift their expectations accordingly.
Build a Rapport
One of the main challenges when working remotely is the level of disconnect created by facing a screen all day. There’s no opportunity to catch up with co-workers by the water cooler when a team is scattered across the globe. Team leaders need to take time to learn about who their team members are when they aren’t sitting at their desk. What are their hobbies? What are they passionate about? Starting meetings with some brief small talk can go a long way to forging a connection that transcends the internet.
It’s also important to create these opportunities for team members as well. Set up some time for everyone to share a bit about themselves and start a conversation that’s unrelated to the task at hand.
Hire the Right People
Not everyone is cut out for remote work. While some individuals thrive on the solo environment and can avoid distractions and motivate themselves to log on every morning, others struggle without structure. Hiring people who have a proven track record of self-starting and self-management is crucial for remote team success.
When looking for people within an organization who are looking to work remotely, it’s up to management to analyze and identify who is eligible for these roles. For startups who only operate remotely, it’s important to look for proof of work by talking to references and reviewing applicant portfolios. Video interviews are also a great way to have a discussion and assess someone’s fit with the team.
A remote team manager requires a unique skill set that allows them to manage themselves and model their behavior to the team. By using the right tools and clear communication, organizations can guide their remote team to success.