Managing a remote work team with communication and ease
For a remote system to operate efficiently, communication needs to be clear, concise, and competent
Though remote work has been on the rise for years, the COVID-19 pandemic caused more of a rapid shift in the popularity of working from home — and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue.
There are plenty of benefits to remote working environments for employers and employees alike, but there are also some potential challenges. For a remote system to operate efficiently, communication needs to be clear, concise, and competent.
Thankfully, technology has made it easier than ever to manage remote work teams. Today, there are several different software programs designed to make remote workforce management easier for everyone. But, it’s important not to rely on technology alone. Stepping up in a managerial position to make sure your employees feel heard and understood is just as crucial.
So, what can you do to manage a remote work team with efficient communication? How can you make the experience easier and more successful for everyone?
Keeping Things Organized
If you’re the one in charge of managing a remote team, the responsibility of keeping things clear and organized falls on your shoulders.
What does that mean?
From the start, you should set clear and realistic expectations for your team. Everyone should always be on the same page when it comes to goals, job descriptions, and how often they should check in. How you go about organizing your team is up to you, of course. But, it can be helpful to expect regular updates, whether it’s every day or in a weekly briefing.
Make sure your remote employees can reference your communication strategy whenever they need reminders. The strategy should include things like:
- The kinds of questions that require a conference call
- When to email versus call
- How to access you at any time
- How soon you will expect a response from someone
The idea of organizational development is meant to improve your company culture, even for remote employees. So, be as transparent and clear as possible with everything you do. When transparency is part of your team culture, your remote employees are less likely to be confused or feel “left out” in some way. The more organized you are, the better they will respond.
Getting Everyone Involved
Speaking of remote employees feeling left out, that’s one potential risk when managing a remote team. It can be especially problematic if not all of your employees work remotely, and some are still working in an office setting each day. It’s not uncommon for remote workers to feel lonely, isolated, or even worry that they might not be getting the same amount of work as a co-worker who comes into the office each day.
As a team manager, one of your responsibilities is to make sure everyone is involved in the right projects.
Technology makes it easy to overcome geographic issues. If your business hasn’t yet invested in special communication software or programs, consider looking into some of the following:
- Collaboration tools
- Video conferencing programs
- Screen sharing tools
- Project management systems
Online whiteboards can also be great for group meetings, especially if the meeting contains a mixture of in-person employees and remote workers. Whiteboard collaboration can help everyone to participate, whether it’s to share an idea, jot down a quick note or question, or offer a more formal presentation to others. They allow you to work together as a team in real-time, and everyone has their own specific space on the board, so no one’s ideas will be overstepped or overlooked.
In addition to making sure everyone is involved with the work aspect of your business, it’s just as important to make sure they’re involved with company culture. Remote workers can enjoy benefits like flexibility and the comfort of working from home, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to feel like a part of your company. So, whatever in-office traditions you might have, make sure to share them with members of your remote team.
That might include jumping on a video call to sing happy birthday to a team member at the end of a workday or dressing casually on Fridays. If your business has holiday parties or other events, get your remote team involved by making the party “virtual,” and compensating them for getting food delivered to their home if they can’t come into the office to enjoy a catered meal. Making sure everyone stays as involved as possible will boost your company culture and motivate your employees to do more while remaining loyal and happy.
Checking in With Individuals
Again, it’s not uncommon for remote workers to feel left out when it comes to office festivities or even everyday “water cooler talk”. They might also feel overwhelmed and sometimes confused by a project, no matter how clear you’ve tried to be.
You can help to alleviate those worries and strains by checking in with your remote team. Consider hosting weekly meetings with the whole group to address any sweeping concerns. You can even take things one step further by meeting individually with your remote employees. Have a “virtual coffee hour” with them once a week, and set aside specific time to talk with each person about any concerns they might have, or just to see how they’re feeling. Showing that you have a genuine interest and care about their well-being can go a long way.
It’s also a good idea to have an “open door” policy with your remote team. They may not have the ability to come into your office each day if they have a question. So, make sure they know they can reach out to you at any time if they have any questions or concerns. Again, make sure you’re transparent about how quickly you will get back to them or the type of questions that might warrant a larger meeting. But, it’s crucial to make sure your remote workers feel just as valued as the ones working in-house.
As important as it is to check in with your remote team, make sure you’re doing it from a place of care, rather than wanting to micromanage their every move. It can take a lot of trust to let someone work remotely. It’s your job to make sure they stay motivated and productive without proverbially looking over their shoulder every five minutes.
Instead, try the following tips to empower your remote employees as they work on various projects:
- Give them a goal
- Allow them to work in their own style
- Show them gratitude for the work they do
- Focus on the end goal, rather than deadlines and processes
Workplace stress can be a huge problem, even for remote employees. By taking the time to show your remote workers more trust and letting them work in ways that are comfortable for them, they’ll be less stressed and more productive.
As remote work continues to rise in popularity, it’s more important than ever to know how to manage a team easily. As you can see, communication is one of the major keys to making things work. By putting some of these ideas into practice, you’ll experience smoother sailing with your remote team. Before long, everyone will become more comfortable with this type of environment, but you can put yourself, your workers, and your business ahead of the game by giving your remote workers the resources, attention, and motivation they need right now.
Noah Rue is a journalist and content writer, fascinated with the intersection between global health, personal wellness, and modern technology. When he isn’t searching out his next great writing opportunity, Noah likes to shut off his devices and head to the mountains to disconnect.