Having a remote team comes with clear advantages. They can help your business save money, open hard-to-fill positions up to a global talent pool, and even make your employees more productive by promoting an improved work-life balance. These are substantial improvements for workers and businesses alike, but they don’t just manifest overnight.
There’s a learning curve to remote work, and one of the greatest hurdles is that period when your team is transitioning from the office to your new virtual workspace. You must acclimate quickly to the intricacies of leading a remote team, so this guide will provide you with tips on how you can set yourself up for success from the word “go.”
Understanding the difficulties of remote work
You can gain insight into what practices you should be following by examining the pitfalls that are present in any endeavor. Working remotely is no different, and as a team leader, four main challenges are beleaguering your employees that you’d do well to understand.
1) Isolation: By its very nature, remote work cuts your team off from daily face-to-face contact and informal social interactions. Some employees will not mind this change, but for others, that isolation could result in reduced productivity. What’s more, a continued lack of interpersonal contact may cause some employees to quit altogether.
2) Distractions: One of management’s greatest fears is that working from home will make their employees susceptible to greater degrees of distraction. This isn’t typically an issue for a seasoned remote worker, but when you’re just transitioning to a virtual setup, it’s much more likely that your team members won’t have their own optimal workspaces immediately.
3) Communication/Information: Without a centralised physical location, it’s going to be harder for your team to communicate and exchange information. Tasks that normally require your team to share info may become more complicated as a result. What’s more, the lack of face-to-face content can strip away the nuances of communication, leading to misunderstandings that would not arise in an office setting.
4) Direction/Supervision: When your team shares a physical location, they need but walk to your office to ask you a question, gain clarification on a task, or hash out any confusion about their duties. In a remote setting, on the other hand, such an interaction is more difficult to arrange, so employees can end up feeling directionless as a result.
These challenges are significant, but they are not insurmountable. Next, let’s take a look at some strategies you can employ to circumvent these obstacles and transition your team to a remote routine with minimal hassle.
Best practices for managing remote teams
Now more than ever, your transition to a remote working situation may come more suddenly than you’d prefer. When you’re making that change, remember to keep these strategies in mind so that you and your team can hit the ground running.
Emphasise on communication
Establishing regular communication is a must for remote teams. You’ve information to share, progress reports to deliver, and sometimes, just a chat to be had that will help your workers better understand one another. Attention and effort fuel the various stages of team performance, and regular communication is necessary to move your teams through to the endpoint. As a leader, it falls to you to ensure your team has a protocol for communication and the tools to talk with one another.
Employ the right tools
A virtual team requires technology to run smoothly. In addition to having several programs that allow your employees to communicate, you’ll also want mobile systems in place for tracking time, working collaboratively, communicating availability, sharing files, managing projects, capturing metrics, and performing tasks specific to your industry.
You’ll need to encourage unity and cooperation among your team if you want a virtual working situation to make it off the ground. In addition to providing the tools to connect and a framework for productivity, you’ll also want to stress to your employees the individual steps that they can take to become better remote teammates.
Additionally, providing some opportunities for remote social interactions will go a long way in helping build bonds among your team, with the additional benefit of staving off the social isolation that some might be susceptible to.
Lead the way
On a remote team, leadership and direction are critical. It’s the key to promoting a positive culture that will boost employee productivity and a vital component in managing team expectations. Exhibit leadership, and you’ll be able to keep everyone unified while setting realistic expectations about what you’ll get done and how to measure success.
In practical terms, this means taking charge of projects, defining the scope of work, developing a plan of attack, and then delegating the responsibilities your team members will handle individually. Keep your goals clear, and remember to focus more on big-picture success than minutiae like how long team members are on the clock.
Check in regularly
As a complement to leadership, your remote team will also require guidance and engagement. It’s the key to strengthening the team’s morale and motivating them to perform at their best, and you can start by establishing structured daily check-ins with all of your remote workers.
This will provide an opportunity for them to lay out concerns, challenges, and questions, and you, in return, will be able to offer counsel and support that will better enable your team to do their jobs.
While the transition period can pose a challenge, switching to a remote working situation offers more than enough benefit to make the process worthwhile.
As a team leader, it’s up to you to aid this transition by understanding the challenges your team will face while acclimating to remote work and laying down the groundwork for everyone to be successful down the line.
Embrace communication, encourage teamwork, and stay engaged to help support your newly minted remote team through all its endeavors.
Author bio: Beau Peters is a creative professional with experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work.
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