Hiring a remote team of talented individuals is increasingly commonplace in many industries today, and it provides entrepreneurs with substantial benefits. However, there are also challenges associated with managing a remote work team that you need to address if you want to maximize the benefits that a skilled team can bring to the table.
Benefits and Challenges of Virtual Teams
Having a remote team can help you reduce overhead, and productivity tends to be higher with a well-established team of remote workers. The costs are reduced, so most startups will focus on going virtual. Although it’s a necessity very often (as costs of having an actual office and all the tech and supplies are often out of grasp for startups), one of the biggest advantages of remote teams is that you will have access to the global talent pool and find the perfect members for your remote team.
Some of the more common challenges relate to overcoming cultural and language barriers as well as dealing with time zone differences. In addition, addressing common managerial issues can also be more challenging because of the distance between you and your remote team. Here are five steps that will help you overcome these hurdles, nurture a positive environment, and increase efficiency in no time.
1. Communicate Effectively
Managing an in-house team is often stressful and time-consuming, and your managerial tasks may seemingly be even more significant when you have a remote team. There are some steps that you can take up-front to decrease your managerial workload. For example, you can require your team to sign in at a specific time each day and to provide you with regular status reports. This may include an update on their projects and other things that they have been working on.
All team members should understand their responsibilities clearly, and they must know who to turn to for help with specific issues. Establishing routines at all levels of your organization can bolster productivity and reduce managerial stress, but you also need to plan on having regular meetings with each team member to stay in touch and keep them updated.
Face-to-face meetings help your team to feel more connected to the company, and the ability to see the people who you are talking to can reduce the likelihood of communication misunderstandings. Bring your team together for regular meetings so that everyone has insight into the latest developments and projects, and to put a face to a name of the screen. Make sure that work is evenly divided based on skills and experience level.
One important thing to uphold is modellingexpected behaviors through your own efforts. This includes setting the bar on timely communication. You and your team should be aware of what level of responsiveness is needed for urgent matters, how to handle being on vacation and more.
2. Use the Latest Tech to Collaborate Effectively
In earlier decades, remote work was rare, and it was often considered inefficient, as there was not really a good way to optimally communicate and collaborate on various projects.
One of the primary reasons why remote work teams have become commonplace today is because of the substantial increase in technological resources and applications that make it possible to effectively communicate and collaborate despite differences in geographic location and time zone.
Because communicating with your team is so critical, you must establish communication channels for all workers. Chat messaging is ideal for informal or quick communications. Scheduled video conferences are more well-suited for formal meetings and extended conversations. There are also team collaboration applications that can be used to keep entire teams apprised of statuses.
If you are unsure where to start, Office 365 also has a robust set of applications for managing remote teams. Its features include communications, file sharing, calendars, email and more.
3. Have the Right Security Solutions
When you have a remote work team, a significant, if not all,part of your team’s efforts and communications are online. This means that online security is critical. Password protection is one of the most important steps that you and your team must address to promote online security.
Search for a solution that has a convenient way to import browser information, auto-fill information, make any file sharing secure, and maybe have some advanced options, like checking the strength of passwords used.
4. Track Time and Performance
When managing a remote team, you understandably want to ensure that your team is working throughout the business day. There are various time tracking software programs that can save you time and energy with this task. For example, some have visible timeline tracking features that help you to monitor this aspect of your overhead. Some also have screen capture and viewing technology so that you can remotely ensure that your workers are on task.
Remember that some remote workers may feel micromanaged or as though their privacy is invaded through some of these efforts. Therefore, you must take lead by letting your team see your own timesheet. You can even implement a reward system for those employees who perform well and who track their efforts regularly.
5. Make a Virtual Water Cooler
In a traditional office environment, employees can gather in a breakroom to chat and get to know each other better. Remote workers miss out on this experience. This could lead to reduced morale and a less team-oriented environment. While hiring a remote team has incredible benefits, you must find a way to keep motivation and morale high.
One idea is to provide your workers with constructive feedback regularly and to ask them to complete employee feedback surveys. You can also set up virtual coffee breaks, and an off-topic team chat room on a platform you use, so that your team can get to know each other on a more personal level.
Having a remote team comes with many perks but managing such a team inevitably has its challenges. There are many tech tools as well as managerial strategies available to address these challenges. When you approach remote team management with the right mentality, you can enjoy the full benefit of your remote team.
About the Author
Ashley Wilson is a freelance writer interested in business, marketing, and tech topics. She has been known to reference Harry Potter quotes in casual conversation and enjoys baking homemade treats for her husband and their two felines, Lady and Gaga. You can get in touch with Ashley via Twitter.