Remote team management might be a difficult task for any manager. It requires advanced communication skills and effective time management. No wonder why many managers struggle with remote teams.
I would like to share my 20 Tips for remote managers. And also provide some useful information about the challenges of managing a remote team as well as tools that can help remote managers to make remote work a successful approach.
If you are a remote worker, this article can also help you to understand better remote team management and know what is expected of remote workers in a remote team.
So let’s begin!
What is remote team management?
Remote team management is a set of processes, tools, and methods to effectively coordinate remote teams. A remote team manager should have the ability to manage people far away, who are not always available for meetings or phone calls, motivate remote workers no matter what their location is. At the same time, remote managers need to be more attentive, as remote worker absence from the office means that remote manager needs to communicate with remote workers more efficiently and set goals very clear.
In a remote team, it’s much harder to see who is doing what and how productive remote workers are. That’s why remote managers need to pay attention to monitoring remote worker processes and work time spent on tasks.
Sometimes remote team management can seem like a constant, never-ending struggle. However, remote team management does not have to be so difficult and quite similar to on-site teams. Here are 20 of my key takeaways as a remote manager for the past years:
1. Clearly define roles within the remote team
The most important thing for remote managers is to set goals and objectives for remote team members. However, remote managers often overlook the need to define roles within remote teams.
Just like in on-site teams, remote workers need to understand their role within remote teams, what tasks they are responsible for, how their task fits into the whole process. Team members should know who is doing what to avoid any confusion and conflicts.
Managers need to define remote team roles on three levels: remote team member, remote manager, remote company leader. For example, the remote worker can be responsible for email communication, weekly status report with the remote team manager, timely delivery of projects assigned by the remote company leader.
Remote managers should clearly communicate who is responsible for what and how remote workers should interact with each other. Establishing clear remote roles across all remote team members and managers will help remote teams to coordinate their efforts better and avoid any confusion within remote teams.
2. Communicate clearly with your remote team members
Clear communication is one of the key elements in successful remote working. This means that managers need to communicate goals, plan remote work very carefully and manage remote team processes.
Remote managers should use different communication channels to stay in touch with remote workers. It’s important to make sure that remote workers are available on these channels at all times, especially if it is an urgent task or issue. The challenge of remote working is the lack of face-to-face communication, so remote managers should be more attentive to remote workers’ feedback and participation in remote projects.
Remote managers also need to remember about remote work schedules. For instance, remote workers may not be available for phone calls or Skype chats during the nighttime depending on their location across different time zones. Working hours can’t always overlap with the team members’ location. That’s why managers should consider different time zones and adjust daily work schedules to manage a remote team more efficiently.
Managers also need to communicate with the rest of the company, so they can support remote workers better. For managers, it’s important to ask for feedback on projects assigned to remote teams, share work progress with the rest of the company, discuss any problems or issues with remote workers.
3. Enable collaboration between team members & motivate them
Remote managers need to encourage their teams more often and make sure that everyone’s work on projects assigned by company leaders is up-to-date and timely delivered within deadlines. When it comes to working remotely, opportunities for creating teamwork are limited. That’s why managers should pay more attention to building remote team spirit and motivate each member of the remote teams to do their best.
Remote workers should know that they can count on support from other team members if needed. Without this sense of unity, it will be difficult for any worker to perform at their best levels. For example, each member of a remote team can be assigned to check one another’s progress and make sure that all tasks are up-to-date. That will help the whole project stay on track and allow workers to ask for help from their teammates if needed.
4. Manage your time as a manager & plan work ahead
Remote managers inevitably need to spend a lot of time assessing and managing remote workers’ performance. They need to set goals, manage workflow and make sure each member is satisfied with their work. However, managers shouldn’t forget about their own tasks assigned by team leaders.
Remote managers should plan their daily work better and use different shortcuts & tools that can improve the working process and save time. For instance, there are some tools that can be used to manage remote team processes and stay in touch with remote workers.
5. Make sure your remote team meets regularly
Remote managers have the responsibility to make sure all remote workers are satisfied with their work and able to deliver results on time. There is no doubt that an informal team culture contributes to success in remote working if managers manage their teams properly.
One of the ways to maintain a good relationship between team members is regular face-to-face or video chats. These meetings may over exceed positive results since it allows all participants to clearly understand what’s going on within the project and motivate each other for further work.
For remote team managers, it’s important to remember that self-motivation plays a significant role in the success of a remote company. If a manager creates conditions for all team members to be motivated and satisfied with their work, they will have a chance to gather more resources and deliver higher results during the whole project. In order to build motivation within the team and motivate remote workers, managers should regularly discuss and assess results achieved by each member of their teams.
6. Let remote teams manage their time & work
Remote managers need to let go of micromanagement – one of the most common pitfalls for off-site teams. Instead, they can rely on tools that allow them to track the progress of each project. For example, there are some tools that allow managers to receive alerts on tasks within projects assigned for remote teams. That will save time and help managers control the progress of work from a distance.
7. Manage daily tasks & schedule meetings between remote workers
In order to get a clear understanding of what managers expect from their remote team, they need to clearly communicate deadlines for each task. As a manager, you need to regularly monitor the work of your teammates and assign new tasks when the previous ones are completed.
Regular phone calls between managers and remote workers can also help in arranging different meetings within teams or receive an access to some documents & files without distracting workers from their immediate tasks.
8. Communicate the goals & expectations from your remote team
Managers need to make sure their teams know what they are expected to deliver and how their work is valued within the company. For example, managers can divide responsibilities between members of a remote team and make each member understand why these tasks were assigned to them specifically. That will help in building trust and responsibility within a team.
9. Make your goals & achievements transparent for remote workers
Remote managers need to make sure employees understand what their tasks are, how successful they were, and what the final results of their work were. A remote worker has all chances to feel unvalued if they don’t know how successful they’ve been and what they were expected to deliver.
10. Set tasks instead of rules for your team members
The way that managers control their teams plays a significant role in the success of remote work within a company. Managers need to create conditions for virtual employees to manage their own time, work on their own priorities, communicate with each other, and work without constant supervision. The more managers allow remote teams to manage themselves, the higher results they can achieve and the more motivation they will gather within a team.
11. Don’t be afraid of mistakes – learn from them
One of the biggest problems in remote work is that employees usually lack feedback on their work, which may result in lower productivity rates. For example, if a manager doesn’t provide any feedback on the work of their employees, it’s likely that those workers will not improve and build trust within a team. But as soon as managers start communicating with their remote teams more often, they will have the ability to understand what mistakes those workers have made and how they can avoid repeating those mistakes.
12. Encourage cooperation & collaboration between remote teams
Virtual teams require support from their managers to build team spirit and achieve better results than individual workers can do by themselves. For example, there are some tools that allow teams to communicate better with each other (like Slack or Skype) and collaborate on projects without distractions. That will help in sharing ideas and completing tasks more efficiently.
13. Give honest feedback to your remote team
One of the key skills for any manager is providing feedback on a regular basis and encouraging employees to share their own ideas with each other. For example, managers can use stand-up meetings as a platform for sharing complaints within a virtual team and motivating everyone to achieve better results.
14. Don’t micromanage your remote team
Team members working remotely need to have a sense of responsibility and leadership within a team, which can be achieved only by encouraging them to manage their own time and achieve the best results with as little supervision as possible. Managers need to trust their employees, delegate responsibilities, encourage them to make their own decisions, and communicate more with them.
15. Hire remote workers who are ready for a challenge
There are a lot of employers who hire virtual employees blindly without checking if those workers have enough experience to work online. For example, managers need to check applicants’ references from previous projects where those people worked remotely as well as check their resumes to see if those workers have enough experience in remote work.
16. Use an app for time & task management
Remote managers have all chances to spend hours communicating with their teams, assigning tasks, and checking reports from employees. In order to save as much as possible of a manager’s time, you can use apps for time & task management, so they will have all their employees’ reports in one place and a possibility to check how each of them is progressing. (I always recommend Asana and Basecamp)
17. Hire self-starters who can work on their own
Managers need to focus on hiring people who are able to be responsible for the time when they’re alone at home or in a coffee shop. Self-starters who can manage their own time and prioritize their tasks will be more motivated to work than those workers who need constant supervision and motivation from a manager.
18. Plan your calendar ahead of time
Managing the day’s activities is one of the most challenging tasks for managers, especially when they’re working remotely as well. When they need to plan their day ahead of time, managers can take into consideration the deadlines assigned to their employees and prioritize how much time should be devoted to each task or activity.
19. Communicate with your remote team more often
It’s important to encourage workers in a team to communicate with each other more often while working remotely. They need to know what their colleague is working on and how that person can proceed with a project. Also, after managers get used to the remote work style, they will start communicating more often with their teams and sharing useful information about projects and their own time management.
20. Set individual goals for virtual workers
The most important challenge for any manager managing a remote team is setting individual goals for each member of the team and motivating those employees to achieve those goals by themselves. For example, managers can set up sprints with deadlines to motivate workers and check whether they’re achieving the project’s milestones as planned.
In order to manage a remote team successfully, managers need to be more responsive and available for their teams. They need to work 24/7 if needed because they’re working with people from different time zones. Also, the most important things for remote managers are open communication and motivation, so they can provide these aspects in their daily activities with employees.
Managing remote teams is not an easy task, so it’s crucial to take your time and try different methods of communicating with your employees in order to find the ones that will fit you best. Also, if you need additional help or any assistance in managing virtual teams, contact me, I’m always happy to help 🙂