Managing a remote team is a different experience than managing one in the traditional office. It requires many of the same skills, with a slight twist. For example, communication is still essential. It’s also important to create a team culture. But how do you effectively maintain these things while working remotely?
By applying much of what you already know about managing a team to a remote setting, and adding a little more flexibility and patience, you’ll be able to build toward an engaged and effective remote team.
Communication Is Everything
For everything else you do, communication is key to all of it. It’s more difficult to feel connected while working remotely. This makes it more difficult to trust each other to do the work and get things done. It can create uncertainty about what everyone is working on and when the deadlines are. With an unfocused team, less will get done.
In an office setting, some things would be communicated by way of saying them in person as you pass someone’s desk, other topics would be emailed, sometimes you would have one-on-one meetings in an office, and sometimes you’d have group meetings in a conference room. Don’t underestimate how helpful it was to simply see each other working at your desks, which communicated that everyone was present.
Create multiple channels for communication and make sure everyone is clear about how to use them.
For example, creating a chat on Slack is a great way for your team to easily update each other on small things through text. Having regular video calls on a service like Zoom or Google Meet is a great way to get everyone on the same page.
Check To See Your Team Has What They Need
Do not assume that everyone has all the supplies they need. In an office setting, their devices, office supplies, a space to work in, and their internet connection would all be provided for them. Does your team have everything they need to work? Checking in with them on this with a video call, one on one, can be a good idea. It’s also important to make them feel comfortable communicating with you if they need something to be productive.
To successfully manage your remote team, you will need to trust them. It isn’t realistic to expect you can monitor their every work hour. Everyone’s work environment is now very different. With that in mind, focus on the results instead of the moment to moment status on things. Clearly communicate deadlines and be open to discussing any issues that come up.
Ultimately, you want your team to be producing the work you expect. Prioritize what your biggest expectations are, that you are confident your team can accomplish them, and create a safe environment for them to communicate any challenges they face along the way so you can help them reach these important goals.