While remote working has existed for a long time, it has been within the last few years that many companies now have more remote workers than those in an office. Coupled with ever-increasing geographically disperse resources, this transition has resulted in many new challenges for managers and co-workers alike. Asinpa was created with remote workers in mind. Our team and operations have been remote long before it was “the norm”. In fact, all of our projects have been completed remotely since 2008. Below are several best practices that we have successfully leveraged both internally and with our clients.
Make communication a key factor.
At Asinpa, it’s all about the conversation. Communication is an essential element in managing that cannot be over-emphasized. The nature of remote working requires daily communication with employees and team members. Messages concerning work must be timely, relevant, and accurate, and use ubiquitous language. In cases where team members are in different countries, you must also consider the time zone.
Finding a way to communicate successfully with remote workers takes time. Individuals have different channels (i.e., voice, video, text, etc.) where they are more efficient. Take the time to understand what works best for you and your audience; figuring this out will lead to efficiency and high-quality output from everyone involved.
Clearly define the rules.
When dealing with remote teams, make sure to state the rules you bring on board. Try as much as possible not to use vague terms that will give more than one interpretation of the rules set.
Set clear expectations of working hours (if appropriate), communicate plans, project deadlines, and more. Remember that even today, for many, working remotely is something they have never done; you will need to pay close attention to those who are experiencing working remotely for their first time.
Define expectations early
In managing individuals to achieve a specific purpose, you must let them know what is expected before embarking on any new projects. This will ensure the various team members understand what they need to do and the quality standards that are expected. Expectations from managers should be set in advance, with a regular and consistent reminder of what is expected from them.
With this in place, employees can adjust their time and performance to deliver quality projects on time. In remote working environments where boundaries and expectations are not set, employees tend to deliver results below the organization’s needed standards. Let your team members know that despite working remotely, the company maintains the flow and expectations of a traditional business organization. That is, to make profits and get results.
Be a true leader
The team’s success depends on the manager’s ability to lead and effectively manage members with remote working. Meaning, a team is only as good as the person/people at the helm. The kind of structure that comes with remote working may leave team members feeling left out or isolated. It is up to you as a leader to be available and help them feel valued and included.
We have seen, in some instances, managers in charge of remote teams distance themselves from their team members and only address them upon work completion. Eventually, team members will start to reciprocate this behavior, leading to low productivity with little motivation to bring out their best. Do not let the “out of sight, out of mind” syndrome deter your track record. As a leader, you must keep your team fully engaged.
As a leader, one crucial element in successfully managing your remote teams is building great rapport with team members. When established, team members know they can come to you and freely discuss work-related issues and even personal issues that may be affecting their work.
Motivate your team members
Like a traditional work environment where managers reward and celebrate team members, you can do the same in a remote work setting. Put policies in place that will motivate employees to do their best. Whether it is a virtual gift card or a shoutout at the next meeting, people like to know their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. Recognition of excellent work will undoubtedly have a positive effect on the output of team members.
Encourage Social Interaction
Remote workers know social isolation and loneliness all too well, resulting in absenteeism, lower morale, and reduced productivity.
Fortunately, you can influence and encourage interactions among your staff through your chosen communication methods. For example, celebrating birthdays, weekly virtual happy hours, team-building exercises, and more. Such steps will help boost team spirit and increase productivity.
It may take time for you to master the art of managing teams remotely, so be patient with yourself and tackle challenges as they come. Hopefully, the tips above have provided some ideas to help the transition smoother for all involved.