Over two-thirds of the world’s workforce works from home at least once per week, according to a study by IWG. The growing trend of home offices is due in part to technological advancements that enable workers to complete many of their job responsibilities remotely. Of course, that’s not to mention teams that are working cross-country or cross-continent, with members spread out and working in completely different time zones. All that being said, it’s imperative that managers understand what’s required to drive the success of remote teams. The information below sheds light on best practices for managing teams that are geographically dispersed.
Good communication is the cornerstone of any relationship, both personal and professional. When you’re managing remote teams, it’s necessary for that communication to be as consistent as possible. This can be accomplished with group messages and audio and video meetings. Just because a member of your team works remotely doesn’t mean it isn’t necessary to have face-to-face meetings via Skype, Zoom, or other conference software. Try to find a biweekly time during which everyone on the team can call in, and record the meeting in case anyone is unable to make it.
Establish Expectations in Advance
Failing to establish the expectations of team members is the easiest way to run into problems as a manager. In fact, not only should you have clear-cut expectations, you should also ensure they’re in writing and readily accessible for reference. This goes in line with the importance of communication—no matter where your team is, every member should know and understand what’s expected of them. The easiest tool to use for outlining what you expect is a job description, modified to include company and team values.
Leverage the Power of Technology
Traditional business practices don’t always work for remote teams, especially ones where members are spread hither and yon. For instance, there was a time when sending a text message to a manager might have been considered inappropriate. That’s no longer the case, however; in fact, it’s commonplace for employees to message managers and other team members via texting apps or other messaging software. In addition to using smartphone devices, you can also employ video-conferencing and various online collaboration tools to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Ensure Equal Treatment
A key aspect of success when managing remote teams is making sure you treat everyone equally. If you have higher expectations for on-site workers than you have for remote workers, there is bound to be resentment and complications. Similarly, you don’t want anyone working remotely to feel like they are not really part of the team. Do your best to keep everyone connected, and emphasize the great work done by each team member.