by Jen McKenzie
Remote work is being embraced by an increasing number of businesses and studies show that remote employees are on the whole happier, healthier and more productive than their office-bound counterparts. Remote work also offers advantages for both parties.
Employees have more flexibility and freedom, not to mention saving up to 2 hours per day on commute time and all the related expenses, while businesses also save a bundle in office expenses, so overall, remote work seems to be a win-win.
Challenges of Managing a Remote Team
And while remote work seems to be a win-win, one of the biggest challenges is getting a team to function together well as a team rather than simply as a number of individuals all doing different tasks. Some common challenges to managing a remote team include:
- Creating a connection: Teams that work well together can achieve incredible things, but just being on a team together doesn’t create Working in an office together gives employees a chance to get to know each other’s habits, patterns, rhythms and who not to talk to before they’ve had their morning coffee. For remote teams to be successful, you must still find a way to create this kind of connection, which results in cohesion.
- Creating a shared culture: When employees work in an office together, they tend to take cues from each other that results in a “meshing together” of shared habits, practices and values. This meshing together of values is what we call “company culture.” When employees know what to expect and what is expected of them, they can work around almost anything. In cases where they are not around each other to take cues from each other, however, forming these shared habits and values can be difficult. Part of being a successful remote manager is figuring out how to create this team culture among team members that don’t share a physical space together.
- Communication: Communication is vitally important in any organization but even more so when you are dealing with remote employees. In an office, employees have direct access to each other to decide how to deal with, address or handle certain situations when they don’t know what to do and the boss isn’t there to tell them. Without good communication, work can come to a guiding halt when employees are unsure of how to proceed.
- Tracking issues: No one like spending time doing work that has already been done or is currently being done by someone else. In addition, you don’t want to waste money paying twice for the same work. Managing remote teams demands an even more disciplined approach to tracking than when people work in an office together.
Successfully managing a remote team comes down to three basic tasks: Keep everyone connected, communicate expectations and keep everyone in their own lane. If you can successfully navigate these three key areas, you can manage a productive, successful and happy team.
Benefits of Working With Remote Employees
Starting a new business requires not only an enormous amount of time and energy but a pretty large chunk of capital as well. For this reason, many entrepreneurs start their businesses at home. While running a business from home is nothing new, thanks to the digital age, it has also never been easier.
Not only does working from home cut down on commute time, which allows you more time to focus on business but not having to pay for office space and all the subsequent expenses also gives entrepreneurs more capital to pour into building their businesses. In fact, some of the most successful companies, like Amazon and Apple, started off as home-based businesses.
Thanks to the rise of remote work of all kinds, small business owners can assemble a stellar team and still be a home-based business.
Managerial Traits are Especially Important With Remote Teams
Logistical challenges are not the only challenges to managing a remote team. As a good manager, you must know how to motivate employees as well as how to help them be happy at work. Here are some key traits of good managers that help create happy employees.
- They Are Transparent – A manager is first and foremost a leader that sets the pace for the entire team. It’s hard to follow the pace of someone you can’t see. Good managers make sure they are visible to the team and that the team knows exactly what they add to it.
- They Measure Performance – Job satisfaction often comes from knowing you have done a job well. But how can your employees know if they are doing their jobs well if there are no benchmarks or measurements of performance? Good managers motivate employees by helping them set goals and establishing benchmarks to help them know if they are meeting them.
- They use the Latest Apps to Promote Communication and Collaboration – Good managers provide their teams with all the tools necessary to foster good teamwork and collaboration. What’s more, good managers also use these tools effectively themselves. Always remember, leaders lead from the front.
- They Encourage and Praise Their Teams – There is no doubt that it is far easier to offer criticism than praise and many managers feel like it is their job to critique – or criticize – their employee’s performance. It turns out, however, that this is counterintuitive, and you will get far better performance from your team by praising them instead. Give critique where it’s due, but never forget to praise them as well, otherwise, you risk ruining their motivation.
- They Want to Meet Their Team in Person – At the end of the day your remote employees are people and people generally want to be known for more than just what they can provide or offer you. Even if it’s not possible to meet your employees in person, you should make every attempt to get to know them as human beings, not just employees.
Like all teams, the health and welfare of remote teams rises and falls on good managers. While there certainly may be some logistical challenges to managing a remote team, more than anything else, good management creates happy employees. Good managers know how to be happy at work themselves, which puts them in the best position to help their employees be happy at work as well.
Do you have any tips and tricks on how to be a good remote manager? Share them in the comments below!
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