Increasing numbers of teams are working remotely, whether they’re working with a few external third party members like freelancers or if their entire team is spread out across multiple zip codes (or continents). This presents a new challenge that many businesses haven’t experienced before: how to manage a remote team as effectively as they would an in-office team.
Remote work offers a number of distinct benefits for employees and employers alike, but there’s no denying that it can make cohesive teamwork a little more of a challenge. Leaders working with remote teams need to adapt new strategies in order to manage their people more effectively. In this post, we’ll look at the 4 best changes you should make to get the best results with an out-of-office team.
1. Use the Right Tools
In-house teams can have a quick ten minute meeting every morning to keep everyone on the same page, and team members can walk straight to the lead’s office to have questions resolved in about thirty seconds flat.
This typically doesn’t work well with remote teams, especially if freelancers with their own chaotic schedules are involved. Because of this, having the right tools will be the next best thing to those in-person meetings.
Some of the tools that you should be using include:
- Project management software like Asana or Trello, which allow you to add checklists, followers, due dates, files, and comments to specific tasks.
- Virtual phone systems like Tresta which allow your team to simply add an app to their phone so they can make and receive calls from your business line and access call recordings, voicemails, and more.
- Instant communication software like Slack so that you can chat in real time, creating conversation threads with all relevant team members while attaching files, documents, and comments as needed without having to wait for emails.
Most business tools offer free trials so you can test out different options to see what works best for your team and your specific needs.
2. Ensure That Everyone is On the Same Page
Sometimes it will take a little extra effort and instruction to ensure that everyone is on the same page when you’re all spread out across different locations.
Even something as simple as “call at twelve” could be a disaster is people aren’t sure what timezone you mean. It will be essential to explain all details of a project, ranging from what you mean by “deadline” (do you mean the initial proposal or the final version by that date?) to what you mean by “proposal.”
It’s also going to be important to make sure that no one is accidentally left out of the loop. Communication tools like Slack can help, but also make sure that you’re copying everyone needed into key emails and tagging people on communication tools. Knowing that everyone received and saw the content is half the battle sometimes.
3. Create Communication Protocols
If there’s an urgent issue with a client’s project, who does the individual go to– to you, to another team member, or to your boss? Remote workers may have little to no knowledge about how the business operates and who they’re supposed to go to for what, so having clear policies in place can be useful to get the right info to the right person as quickly as possible.
It’s also often helpful to utilize organization systems and set actual communication protocols. Does each new question need to be its own email? Do your team members need to put key phrases in the subject line like “FINAL DRAFT,” “CLIENT PROPOSAL,” or “URGENT” so that they’re easy to find later on?
For communication tools and emails alike, you can require that your team use labels or even hashtags on key threads, allowing team members (including themselves) to find the information quickly at any point in the future. This is particularly important for remote teams, who can be disjointed and often need to double check key information even more than in-house workers.
4. Don’t Forget Relationship Building
You want the people working for your business to not only feel good about the work but to feel good about you, too. Believe it or not, relationship building is going to be a huge part of managing a remote team effectively.
If people don’t feel like you care about them– whether they’re employees or third-party vendors like freelancers– then it’s only natural that they might not be as invested in the work as they could be.
Taking the time to recognize someone’s birthday, asking about their day, or granting time off for a family emergency will be as important when managing remote teams as it is in person. Because you’re remote, however, it takes extra work; there’s no water cooler to make small talk over, so you have to remember to send those messages. If you do, though, the whole team can come together and bond not only with you but each other, and that can lead to exceptional teamwork moving forward.
It can be difficult enough managing an in-person team well that it might seem overly exhausting to manage a remote team. Remote work, however, lets you find the right people for the job without being bound by geographical restrictions, and having the best people possible means that the quality of work will be exceptional, too.
Use these four remote-specific strategies and get the right tools to set your remote team up for success, and you’re sure to see the benefits before you know it.
Want to know how Tresta’s virtual business lines can help your remote team excel? Learn more here.