Successfully Managing a Remote Team
While organizations have different definitions of success and productivity, a clear trend in the workforce highlights the positive effects of allowing contractors and employees to work remotely. Working offsite, either full- or part-time, offers certain advantages not experienced by workers in a conventional office setting, including a higher level of work/life balance, enhanced worker morale and increased productivity. A number of highly successful companies promote remote work given these unique benefits, but managing remote teams presents challenges to even the best leading personnel.
To combat the difficulties inherent in managing a remote workforce, here are four tips any manager can implement easily.
Utilize the Right Tools
There is no question that the influx of technology has increased the ability of workers to perform tasks outside the confines of a brick and mortar office location. However, not every web-based application or software program is a perfect fit for every organization with a remote workforce. Utilizing the tools that fall in line with organizational culture, priorities and work processes is a key component to successfully managing remote teams. As an example, this intuitive tool offers an easy way for both management and workers to track and record hours worked and wages paid. Managers can also integrate smart message applications, phone or video conferencing software and assignment/task management systems to keep a remote team connected efficiently.
Get Creative with Communication
Remote teams are no different than on-site staff in that they need communication not only to accomplish tasks effectively but to also feel part of the bigger picture. Written communication is often the go-to for managers and workers in remote teams, but every once in a while it is helpful to get creative with communication efforts. Creating opportunities for face-to-face interactions helps boost morale and affords management and employees the chance to pick up on cues not readily apparent in verbal or written communications. Video conferencing offers a solution to managers with remote teams dispersed over a large geographical area, while invitations to visit the office work well for workers who live relatively close to the office.
Be Clear on Desired Outcomes
Miscommunication is a pain point for a number of employees who work offsite and the individuals who manage them. One of the simplest ways to ensure remote teams are less likely to misinterpret assignments or scope of work is to lay out expectations before a new project or task begins. Remote workers are far more likely to meet deadlines and deliver results in line with organizational objectives when expectations are clear from the start.
Keep Morale in Mind
Oftentimes, remote teams are left to work autonomously which has the potential to lead to a feeling of isolation or disenchantment with the work being performed. Managers of remote teams can help keep productivity up and work flowing in by managing the morale of remote employees on a regular basis. Making time for one-on-one communication or in-person meetings allows management the opportunity to understand where a remote worker stands in terms of satisfaction on the job and the work being completed. Keeping morale up is crucial to the ongoing success of any remote team.
Managers take on certain challenges when working with remote teams, regardless of the size of the business or scope of the work being done. However, utilizing the right technology tools and having a commitment to ongoing communication help diffuse remote team difficulties. Spelling out the desired results of a project or task and keeping employees and contractors also works to the benefit of remote team managers, in the short and long run.
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