Managing a Remote Team is Hard — But Here’s How to Do It

The changing landscape of the modern workplace has shone a bright spotlight on the value of remote working setups.

Members of remote teams have more control over their schedules and can complete their tasks from home or any other location with web access. In recent years, more and more startups, enterprises, and even multinational corporations have turned to remote working – resulting in greater operational flexibility, better employee loyalty, and overall boosts in productivity.

 However, not all managers know how to properly handle remote teams. If you’re finding this task to be highly difficult, the good news is that there are many ways to make it easier for your team as well as yourself.

Leverage Digital Collaboration Tools

In our feature on the ‘3 HR Technology Trends You Need to Know About’, we tackled how new remote workplace tools can make the task of remote collaboration much easier.

Customizable group chatting tools like Slack and Evernote Work Chat for instance allow remote teams to smoothly communicate and exchange important files or notes. Remote work monitoring tools like Time Doctor and Hubstaff also allow you to ensure that employees are putting in the needed hours.

 Meanwhile, more expansive cloud-based project management software can allow you and other managers to remotely keep track of teams’ progress, streamline all necessary digital “paperwork,” and decrease friction between teams and departments. Apart from ensuring that remote teams are engaged on a daily basis, these tools can also be used to create and develop remote onboarding and training methods for your company.

Rising to the challenges of remote team management begins with leveraging the many collaboration tools at your disposal.

Manage Team Expectations

Not having the luxury of always meeting face-to-face means that managing expectations is especially important for remote teams.

This means clearly defining the scope and limitations for specific tasks, projects, or directions. Make sure everyone working on each project is well-informed about goals, deadlines, and deliverables by using the above-mentioned collaborative digital tools.

Furthermore, INC notes that managing expectations applies not just to your workers, but to you as a manager as well. By clearly laying out the expectations and other details beforehand, you can set the stage for your entire team’s success.

Regularly Work Together Face-to-Face

Meeting face-to-face every now is important for remote teams. While digital tools do their part to keep everyone in touch, nothing beats being able to hear a person’s voice or read non-verbal cues in terms of creating lasting bonds within remote teams and conveying complex information to employees.

If you have no office space available, you can consider veering away from typical cafés and instead make use of a coworking space, which emulates the professional environment of the typical workplace. Alongside private offices and conference rooms, the Kansas City coworking branch of Industrious, provides phone booths, office supplies, printing options, and refreshments, as well as dedicated networking events.

The appeal and convenience of these amenities is why the industry is rapidly growing with Big Seven and Travel reporting that Las Vegas, Bozeman, Albuquerque, Rapid City, and Fargo have all become prominent coworking cities in recent years. Whichever city you reside, you’re bound to find a coworking location that can cater to your team’s needs in terms of office size, facilities, and rental duration.

While it may not be a good idea to meet face-to-face given the current situation, it’s worth noting in the future that meeting together every so often can help keep teams bonded and streamline collaboration.

Be Flexible

At the heart of remote working lies the advantage of flexibility for everyone involved.

Remote teams afford companies better overall scalability, and for remote team members, more control over when and where to work. Don’t take this away from your team members by forcing them into traditional work schedules or habits. Instead of trying to manage each and every aspect of how your remote employees go about their day, put your focus on their work output.

udge your team members not by how well they can adhere to a 9 to 5 schedule, but for the outcome of their work. Approach all work-related issues with flexibility in mind. Be open to allowing team members to work during hours when they feel the most productive.

 Let team members take mental health days off if necessary. As long as team members finish daily tasks, meet deadlines, and consistently turn in good work, they should be able to reap the rewards of this non-traditional work setup.

Being a flexible manager not only shows team members that you trust them, it can also improve your overall productivity.