Times have changed in relation to how people work. According to ProofHub, 77 percent of companies with over 2,500 employees allow remote work. Leaders are no longer resigned to just look for talent in their local geographic areas, workers from around the world can be considered due to advances in remote work technologies. Also, due to globalization, increase attention to the topic of work-life balance, and the advent of teleworking as an attractive perk, leaders increasingly have to manage remote work teams.
If leaders thought communication was important before, remote groups have an even greater necessity for it. Managing contracts, software packages, work times, time zones, and company retreats and events are all factors leaders have to watch out for. Even though this can be a difficult task, there are a lot of advantages to managing a remote team.
Free online tools for work:
1. Fluxes.com — Free Project and Task Management Software
2. Status.net — Software for Effective Communication
- Advantages of Managing a Remote Team Part 1
- Challenges of Managing a Remote Team Part 2
- 10 Best Practices for Effective Teamwork Part 3
Advantages of Managing a Remote Team
According to a collection of data by ProofHub, remote workers are more satisfied at work. On a scale from one to ten of happiness, remote workers scored 8.10 while traditional workers were at a 7.42. Happier employees are more productive and engaged in the work they do, so leaders have that to look forward to with a remote team.
An Attraction of Younger Talent
According to a survey of 8,000 millennials by Deloitte, 64 percent said they would like the option to work from home. Companies that specialize in having remote teams are more likely to attract younger talent that they can bring up through the ranks and train for more involved positions later on.
Employees Stick Around Longer
Allowing remote work decreases job attrition by 50 percent. Therefore, workers are much less likely to leave. This reduces the amount of job transitioning leaders have to deal with, and the amount of money they have to use to train someone new. Leaders can feel confident they have a team that will be together for an extended period.
A Well-Rounded Team
Leaders will likely have employees from all over the world. These workers bring a diverse set of experiences and knowledge that employees in America may not necessarily have. Also, since workers are located all around the world, it is possible always to have someone working on a project depending on their time zone.
Less Overhead for Employees and Employers
A remote team means less office furniture, floor space, and ultimately building rent for leaders. For workers, gas, clothes, lunches, and additional transportation costs are no longer items they need to worry about. This not only decreases stress for employees, but it also increases their financial well-being, something that will likely lead to happiness and engagement.
According to ProofHub, remote workers can get more work done at home, 30 percent said that telecommuting allowed them to accomplish more in less time. There are fewer opportunities for workplace distractions that take workers away from their tasks. Leaders can feel satisfied that work projects will be completed on-time since remote workers can stay focused on their work.
Challenges of Managing Remote Work Teams
Costs of Technology
While leaders can save costs in rent and office space, workers also need software and technologies to get work done. This can be a sizeable amount of money depending on the type of work and what employees need to collaborate. There are low-cost options out there, but leaders need to make sure they purchase quality technology.
Handling Tech Issues
One benefit that employees who reside in in-office settings can enjoy is having easier access to IT teams in the event there is a tech problem. Having support teams handle tech request for employees in multiple time zones can be daunting and can slow down production.
Lack of Communication
Because most conversation will happen in written form whether, in an email or online collaboration software, leaders have to make sure their writing is clear and concise. This also goes for workers as well. This idea can be difficult to instill in someone who does not have experience with this skill. It is also likely that something in an email can be interpreted differently depending on who is reading it, so workers have to be sure they are ready to pick up the phone in case of a misunderstanding.
What if a meeting is necessary? How can leaders ensure that everyone is able to be a part of the meeting if many of those on the remote team are in different time zones? This can be challenging to overcome. In some way, someone will have to meet at a time that is not a part of their normal office hours.
Lack of Social Interaction
Some workers benefit when they can have social ties and friendships with their co-workers. Working on a remote team makes this more difficult to do. Workers have to deal with isolation and a lack of communication that does not have to do with work tasks. This event can lead to stress and feelings of disengagement.
Selecting the Right People
Everyone is not cut out to work on a remote team. They may be a skilled employee who works well in an in-office environment, but they may not thrive as they work from home. Leaders have the challenging task during interviews of asking the right questions to weed out those who may not be right for remote work arrangements. Leaders may even have to let team members go if they cannot adjust.
Managing Remote Teams: 10 Best Practices for Effective Teamwork
Pick the Right People
As stated above, everyone is not cut out to work remotely. Half the battle of managing a remote team is finding the right people to join the team.
They have to be workers that leaders can trust to communicate effectively, collaborate with co-workers, and meet deadlines.
Leaders should look to see if applicants have past remote work experience, craft questions that show how they would perform in a remote setting, and even hire them on a trial run to see how they perform.
Outline All the Expectations
Do workers have to be available during certain hours of the day for conference calls?
Do employees know their specific duties for the week?
How should teams communicate with each other?
Leaders have to outline what they expect from employees, especially regarding communication. This way, workers do not have to wonder about what leaders need them to do.
Have a Chatroom Always Open
Collaborative chatrooms have shown to be more efficient than email. Leaders should always have a chatroom open for each team to communicate with one another 24/7, especially for those in other time zones.
Create a Task Dashboard
Workers cannot just peak around the corner to ask if something has been done. Therefore, leaders should use an online collaborative tool that outlines the task that should be done for the week, who is responsible for it, and an option for workers to check off work they have completed. There is then no question of who has achieved what, and who was initially assigned to the task.
Plan Meetings Around Overlapping Time Zones
Is there an hour or two where all employees will be working?
Leaders should plan meetings around this time. This step will allow more convenience for all involved, and no one will feel like they have to sacrifice more of their time than anyone else.
Leaders should ensure they are keeping track of all projects that are completed as well as their quality.
This way they can easily discover if goals and objectives are not being met, or if productivity is lacking with a certain individual or team. This will make meetings and feedback sessions a lot easier for leaders to conduct.
Create Chatrooms Based on Topics
While team-based chatrooms are essential, leaders need to account for topical chatrooms. Creating a place where workers can discuss innovative ideas, company announcements, or a work project that involves multiple teams makes sense.
Strengthen Team Loyalty with a Company Blog
All communication does not have to happen in the chatroom. Remote leaders should create an internal blog post that highlights employees, spotlights new hires, and makes company-wide announcements. This is an excellent way for employees to stay up-to-date on company messaging and hear about what other co-workers are up to.
Make In-Person Meetings a Priority
Can the company sponsor a quarterly brainstorming meeting or annual retreat? This allows employees put faces with names and make bonds in person. It also gives workers something to look forward to throughout the year.
Have Weekly Check-Ins
It benefits everyone to know what all other team members are working on. Leaders should be aware of what everyone is doing in all parts of the week.
Not only does it allow everyone to be on the same page, but it also gives leaders confidence that everyone is handling what they need to.
How to use status.net for weekly check-ins:
- Easily implement daily or weekly status updates for your team members by creating a status feed with questions like “What did you do today?” or “How did you contribute to the team’s goals this week?”.
- Peace of mind: No one forgets to fill in their status updates because status.net sends timely reminders according to the recurrence schedule you chose.
- Increase workplace satisfaction by improving transparency:
Each status update has a separate section for comments, which is used by team members to clarify information, including upcoming goals, and by leaders to provide feedback and coordinate better without micromanagement.
- Use status updates for future reference and decrease time and efforts spent on monthly, quarterly, and yearly reporting thanks to powerful filtering and export features.
- Optionally, enrich reports with the latest updates automatically added from web apps your team uses (such as project management tools, version control systems, support systems, financial applications, CRM, etc.) by connecting these apps to your status feed.
- Spend less time on meetings by making them more productive because everyone is on the same page at all times.
- Sharing: Status updates can be either— exported to files and printed, or sent by email;
— shared with manager online; or
— shared online as company-wide or team-wide status reports, i.e., all team members share their progress with each other.
How to configure status updates:
- Create a “Status Update” feed and set up a recurrence.
- Configure who will write and read status updates by choosing the “Participants” tab and then clicking the “Cog” button near “Feed Participants” title.
- Set the status feed as “Team-wide” if you want all team members to view each other’s status updates.
- Alternatively, you can allow access to status updates for certain participants only (such as yourself if you’re a team lead). In this case, turn “Team-wide” mode OFF and restrict viewing by unchecking “View” properties for other participants. Team members with the “View” checkbox unchecked will only be able to view their own status updates.
- If you’re a manager and you don’t plan to share your status updates with your team, uncheck “Update” for yourself – in this case, you won’t receive reminders.
- The Recurrence setting configures how often participants receive email reminders to fill in their status updates. This feature is optional and can be turned off.
- You can add, remove, and assign new team members at any time.
Step 2: The text of the status update should be added to the “Update” field of status feed.
As soon as a new status update is added, participants with “View” rights can view it in real time when they log in to their accounts. They will also automatically receive emails with the full text of status updates.