Having a team that’s dispersed in various locations in the world is a common thing for modern businesses. Today’s global economy enables you to work with people from different countries who have a lot to offer to your company. This presents you with exceptional management challenges that you need to stay ahead of.
However, there is a lot of similarities between remote and on-site management. In both cases, you need to guide, support and take care of your employees. If you do this properly, you will help both your company and the people you work with grow. Here are some tips on how to manage your remote employees.
Remote work is, logically, less structured than on-site work. This means that you need to set and structure your expectations. Every team member has to know what is the task for the next week, as well as what the goals for the next few months are. They should also be fully aware of which projects are their responsibility and whom they should contact if any issues arise.
They need to know how available you are to them, as well as how much is it required from them to be available to you. If it is necessary, define how many hours they have to work per week, and how much work they need to complete during that time.
Encourage internal bonding
Spontaneous conversation moments between co-workers about various topics are essential to having a strong, synchronized team that feels comfortable working together. They may even spark some great ideas that can improve your business. While on-site these moments usually happen in break rooms, office kitchens, and the like, in the online world you need to provide them with the space to do that.
You can create a channel on one of the platforms such as Basecamp or HipChat where your employees can simply have fun talking to each other. Take out some time during meetings for them to talk about personal things. Knowledge sharing sessions are a great way to encourage them to bond with each other and with you.
Make your employees feel like a team
The physical distance between you and your employees can create fractures, so it is essential that you use the appropriate language to make your employees feel like they are part of a cohesive whole.
Concentrate on common organizational goals and objectives. It is often the case that a remote team member will feel invisible, and that their actions aren’t being noticed. Therefore, you need to publicly praise their efforts and acknowledge the work they have done. This will make them feel like they are a valuable asset to the team.
Strategically use communication methods
When communicating with your employees online, it is quite easy for something to be misinterpreted or communicated in the wrong way. This is why you have to choose the right platform for every purpose.
Use email for short and neutral exchanges, because it is very easy to misinterpret. Chat is the best for an informal talk and group discussions, as it is a great socializing tool. Skype or phone is the way to have long and detailed conversations that are quite often difficult to make. A video call has the essential face-to-face element and is much more productive than hours of messaging.
Track your employees’ progress
It is essential that you have a consistent and structured method that helps you track the progress of your employees as individuals, as well as the entire team. There are great tracking tools that can help you manage remote activities and working hours. You can automate a greater portion of the process this way, but there are other options you can use as well.
You can have your employees send you daily three-bullet summaries or screencasts of the work they have done. If you want to be more informal, you can assign a chat room for this purpose.
No matter what your choice is, there are two reasons why you need to place this burden on your employees’ shoulders. Not only does it concern the fact that you have a lot of other things to take care of, it also gives your employees independence, and empowering them to feel responsible for their work.
To make sure that quality decisions are being made at the desired time, you need to be transparent with the members of your team. The more knowledgeable they are, the more they will be able to act on their own.
Organize regular meetings where you will discuss the status of your company, changes that are going on, decisions that need to be made, financial updates, and the like. Your conversations need to be in the open so that your employees have access to the information that is necessary for them to work autonomously. Be honest and authentic with your team.
Remote management is a challenge, but it isn’t necessarily a difficult task if you follow these tips. You need to set the expectations for your team, encourage them to bond with you and with each other, and make sure that everything is a cohesive whole.
Don’t forget to communicate with your team via various channels, and make sure that you track their progress by using the appropriate tools.