How to manage your remote team – Part 1 of 2
May 31, 2019
A common misconception about management and leadership of a remote workforce is that it differs greatly from that of a more traditional office-based team. However, you might be surprised to learn that this is not the case. With acquiring a set of tools to help ease your communication, managing your workers remotely might prove to not be as hard of a task after all. At RemoteMore we have often seen that it is a good idea to start with your current working style and adjust it accordingly. In order to help you with this crucial task, we have prepared a two-part post to provide you with some tips on how to approach it. We will discuss the importance of communication as well as some misconceptions we have often heard in regards to remote teams. We will also share our personal experience and let you know what tools make our team function better! We hope you enjoy the topic and also share with us your thoughts and experiences.
Location, location, location
A very common question that managers of remote teams get asked is:
“How are you sure that your workers are in fact doing their job when you cannot see what they are doing?”
An important point to make here is that most people have heard of others who go to their office job and when asked in the end if they have had a productive day, they would often respond that they did not get a lot done.
We have previously written about studies which show that remote workers are more engaged in their job and they tend to be more productive. An important step in building your team remotely is to learn to see results as the sole indication of your team’s productivity, rather than the amount of hours worked. In a fireside chat together with Bryan Helmig, he mentioned that this is the case for companies whose work is entirely online. This leaves space for more flexibility in how a remote team member organizes their tasks, so long as they are finished before the provided deadline.
Communication can make or break you
On that note, finding ways to communicate with your team is important in any work situation. It is even more crucial when building a team of remote workers. At RemoteMore we often state that:
You can often feel like you are overcommunicating. More than likely, this means you are communicating just the right amount.
On the more practical side, as a manager you should ensure that your team is fully integrated into the communication and information flows in the company. That means encouraging a constant discussion between you and them (one-to-one communication) and among themselves (team communication).
Borrowing from the more traditional office communication among team members, it is a good idea to create rituals for your employees.
What we have found works in RemoteMore is scheduling a morning call for everyone so as to discuss the plan for the day. In addition once a week we make sure we discuss what has been working great during the week and what can be improved.
A bi-weekly one-on-one video call with all of your employees where you discuss performance is also a valuable management tool to ensure expectations are met.
Lastly, organising retreats where your employees can meet each other once or twice a year will provide more sense of community in the team. In addition, contrary to what many believe, it is a great idea to make sure your team is working in a rather traditional hour frame (such as 9am to 5pm). Just remember to switch off from work when the workday is over.
Building a great (remote) team starts with the hiring process
When considering whether or not someone meets your requirements for being a part of your team, keep several key points in mind:
Not everyone is able to work remotely.
Make sure you look for individuals who have strong communication skills, can work independently and possess a great deal of emotional stability.
Consider an onboarding process to make sure the candidate is comfortable and familiar with their role and specific tasks within the company.
Be open to receiving feedback from your employees. The sooner you create a sense of open dialogue, the better.
In conclusion, since remote work is often seen as “distant” and “lonely”, communication is just as (if not even more) important than in a traditional workplace. It is necessary in order for all processes to work. One should focus on establishing ritual-like processes for the team to be a part of, as well as ensuring a level of trust and sharing among the team members. In Part 2 we will share our toolbox that lets us discuss our day-to-day processes. We will also talk about the importance of culture in managing your remote workers.
Until then, send us an email letting us know what your experience with remote management is. Are there any particular setbacks you have had to overcome? If you want to hear more about the topic, you are also welcome to join us in our webinar on Wednesday, June 5 at 20:00 CEST!
Written by Trayana Milcheva. I am the newest addition to the RemoteMore team. I became interested in remote work during my HR studies and am pleased to have the opportunity to work with such aspiring young entrepreneurs.
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A blog managed by Boris Borisov. I'm a co-founder of RemoteMore. I believe that remote work is the future. As a person, I want to be part of the solution - and that's why I'm building RemoteMore. Our challenge is to bring remote work to the mainstream and we need your help. You should follow us on Twitter.