7 Great Ways to Manage Virtual Teams

- Remote Working

by Sabareesan Arulkumar

It’s nothing new. Remote work is the trend of the future. 31% of American employees prefer to work remotely most of the time. And why wouldn’t they? Working remotely can reduce stress, increase productivity and improve work-life balance.

However, while remote work can have numerous perks for workers and team managers, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges. And if you’ve ever managed a remote team, then you probably already know it can easily become a nightmare if you’re not careful.

Here are 7 simple tips that will help you get the best out of your remote team.

Tip #1 Effective Remote Communication:
Communicate Clearly and Effectively:

Effective communication is key if you want to get the best out of your remote workers. You need to provide detailed and clear instructions every time you give an assignment. You also need to leave room for questions to ensure that the deliverables are crystal clear. Then you need to select the best communication method. While some folks prefer email, others find it overwhelming and ineffective. So, you need to explore a wide range of communication tools and find out what works best for everyone. Usually, a tool that combines video, voice and text communications is best when dealing with remote workers.

Tip #2 for Effective Remote Communication:
Track Performance:

If you can’t track your remote team’s daily performance, you‘re already set up for bad luck. While some workers might be intensely disciplined and productive, not everyone is made that way. So, for some people, you’ll only get the best out of them when they have a sense of accountability. And this is where time tracking comes in. Time-tracking tools such as Time Doctor can record how much time is spent on work-related tasks and how much is wasted on non-productive activities like social media. It then creates daily and weekly reports which provide the remote worker and manager an opportunity to make improvements. Having this data gives you valuable insights on how to get the best out of your workers and who to let go.

Tip #3 for Effective Remote Communication:
Show Interest in the Lives of Your Virtual Team Members:

This may sound crazy, but one of the best ways to get your remote workers to over-perform is to show that you genuinely care about them. But how do you do this when you’re 8 hours apart? The truth is, it’s not that hard.
Set up a phone call (or video chat) and start with small talk. Find out what they love, what their city looks like, what the names of their spouse and kids are. Things you don’t find on their resume. But here’s the most important part – remember the details and bring them up in future casual conversations. Getting to know your workers personally will help bond with them and keep them loyal.

Tip #4 for Effective Remote Communication:
Build a Company Culture:

Creating and maintaining a company culture may seem tricky when all your workers never get to see each other face-to-face. That said, it’s not impossible! Thanks to the internet, almost anything is possible these days.
Create a periodical “who-can-have-the-most-fun” remote challenge and set up a video software that will allow workers to record short clips and upload them to a centrally accessible platform. You’d be surprised at how much fun your nerdy business analyst can have. Alternatively, if all your workers are within the same region, you could organize an annual event that will bring everyone together to have fun.

Tip #5 for Effective Remote Communication:
Motivate and Reward Team Members:

If you want to be a good manager then you need to be a motivator. The truth is, some workers – although brilliant – do need some extrinsic motivation to keep ticking at full capacity. And closely associated with motivation are rewards. Everyone loves to be rewarded for doing something well. So, if you don’t have branded T-shirts or gift cards to offer, the least you could do is to say “good job (first name)”. Showering praise on your workers for a job well done today will encourage them to go all out and outperform themselves in future projects.

Tip #6 for Effective Remote Communication:
Develop an Effective Work Process:

Without a standardized and effective work process in place, your virtual team can easily descend into chaos. While it’s okay for individual team members to have their own unique set of work habits and problem-solving methods, there must be a standardized work protocol for sharing information, making decisions and solving problems. Having an effective work process can make your team more productive and consistent, as they won’t waste time figuring how best to handle a task when a system already exists. What’s more? It makes daily management and on boarding of new workers easier and more effective.

Tip #7 For Effective Remote Working:
Be Flexible:

If there is one thing that comes with the world of remote work, it is flexibility. Different people have different priorities and you need to account for this is your management. For instance, your remote graphic designer may need to take the morning off to be present at his kid’s science competition. If he desires to work in the evening, instead, you should be flexible enough to accommodate his schedule. That said, productivity should not be sacrificed for flexibility. If the work of one team member is dependent on that of another, then there should be a central calendar that ensures that both team members are simultaneously available for at least a few hours of the day. This is where your job lies as the team manager.

To conclude, remote team management doesn’t have to be hard and dreary. All you need is the right approach, these tips will help get you on the right track.

Photo Credit Hani Bdran via Unsplash

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