Decades ago, it would be taboo to think of working from any location that was not designated as an office. But today, it’s fast becoming the norm. Organizations are learning how to survive the time with rapid technological advancement. In fact, with the outbreak of the Covid-19 Virus, firms have been forced to work remotely. Corporations are realizing that there are jobs that can practically be done without the staff visiting the office. Hence, they preach remote work.
Even as working remotely has dramatically decongested office space and administrative costs, it’s not entirely devoid of challenges. Like the brick-and-mortar 9-5, remote work is riddled with its hurdles.
For instance, years ago, when you woke up in the morning, you quickly prepared to go to the office to beat the deadline. Better still, you can take attendance, and no kid will follow you to the office. But this is not entirely true of a remote worker. Some staff working remotely may decide to wake up at any time they feel without the thought of being queried. Also, there may be unintended activities creeping into the work hours. All these and many more discussed below have contributed to demeaning the productivity of some workers.
On the other hand, it presents the employer with the enormous challenges of becoming invisible to manage remote teams and ensure they are on track; without being carried away by the noise at home. If you’re a startup founder, you will understand how tiring it’s to manage this kind of work.
To help ensure that your team is on track, I have explained the best practices; remote team management tips for any CEO to use as a guide.
Meanwhile, we must appreciate that the world has long overdue for this type of change.
10 Best practices to manage remote teams
For the manager and the employee to succeed and meet up daily, weekly, and monthly targets, it is imperative that certain practices be observed. Some of these practices include:
- Scheduled Daily Check-Ins: communication is a crucial facet of a remote team. Managers must inculcate a culture of checking on employees daily. Keeping in touch with your employees and providing necessary information can enable them to get along with the job efficiently and work better and happier. These daily check-ins offer an employee the opportunity to ask questions, leading to the team’s overall progress.
- Over-Communication: By setting aside daily check-ins, managers can take time weekly to over-communicate with employees. Such communications can involve trends and social issues that are oiled with sarcasm.
- Take Advantage of Technology: It is always up to the manager to employ the most easily accessible technology that can make work less strenuous and easy to adapt to the employee. Like every human, many employees may be disappointed with remote teamwork if the technology is not user-friendly. This can lead to a reduction in productivity or the loss of employees.
- Establishment of Rules of Engagement: rules of engagement are fundamental to the success of any remote team. They include the procedures and steps for the employee to achieve the work demands daily.
- Focusing on Outcomes: during discussions and meetings, managers must elaborate on the desired goals of the job. This will assist the staff not to concern themselves with activities that consume all the time but produce minor results.
- Define the Purpose of Outcomes: this can help connect the employees with the sole purpose of their job and aid them in understanding their purpose in the company and why they must play their role to achieve that purpose.
- Provision of Resources: managers willing to achieve the best results must endeavor to provide resources with which the employees can work. The provision of resources helps in giving the job an ultimate direction. The absence of well-organized resources usually leads to loose and unnecessary work results.
- Remove Obstacles: For your company’s smooth running, it is necessary to identify and liquidate any possible deterrents that may hinder employees from giving the best output. The identification and removal of obstacles must occur from time to time.
- Encouragement of Remote Social Interactions: in a remote team, social interactions are encouraged. This can help employees to share their experiences with the work and assist one another in finding solutions.
- Exercise Empathy: as a manager, you must learn to share the pains and stress of your employees. This enables you to be closer to their hearts. Act cordially, and be a teacher and a mentor rather than a mere manager.
8 Importance reasons to manage remote teams
A remote team presents many benefits for the startup founder, remote worker, and the organization. Some benefits cut across a better work balance, saving costs, and enhanced productivity. The success of any remote team, however, depends on the management of the organization’s day-to-day runnings and the team’s human capacity.
The importance of remote team management spam across:
- Better Work-Life Balance: managing a remote team leads to better work-life balance because of the absence of limited movement, traditional office, and less expenditure on the necessities required to maintain a traditional office environment. Also, the employee and the employer can have better rest. The ability of the parties involved to manage their schedules to best suits them is an added advantage. Further, work becomes an extended part of the larger ecosystem: the family, the opportunity to travel, and the adventure that can contribute to increasing productivity are available.
- Increased Productivity: Research by Harvard Business Review on the productivity of people working in a traditional office to that of remote teams proves that remote staff can accomplish their daily and weekly targets without many hurdles. This is because they work from their comfort zones and carefully orchestrate schedules to suit the time of the day they can work better. Remote team employees can also make choices regarding the most comfortable working environment.
- Improved Employee Retention: Remote working seems like a “working-but-not-working” concept. Because they are working from their comfort, in an environment they enjoy, they will most likely not leave their jobs. A company relocating tends to lose its best talent due to location. But the advent of remote work has put a stop to that as most workers can be allowed to work from millions o miles away. This cannot be said of traditional jobs, where most individuals must either leave their job or relocate as well. A good instance would be during the outbreak of Covid-19.
- Access to Global Talent: remote teams’ nature leaves the opportunity to employ the best minds from every part of the world. Today, entrepreneurs armed with laptops and the internet can offer their skills to corporations millions of miles away.
- Limits Office Space Expenditure: Since remote teams are virtual, this means that employees use the relevant technologies and the required platforms; this makes spending on an office space unnecessary. The extra profit can be added to employees’ wages, enabling them to work better and happier.
- Limits Spending on Working Equipments: remote team employees can work while on their beds, on their dining or private reading tables, and in libraries or parks. In cases such as this, spending on pieces of equipment that should have been accorded to a traditional office is reduced.
- Meeting Time Management: remote team meetings consume less time and are more effective. In a remote setting, employees may spend minutes in a virtual meeting where essentials regarding the company are discussed, and everybody gets to work. It is less time-consuming than a meeting of traditional employees, which can have enough space for exchanging glances between colleagues and more than the required deliberation time. In a remote team meeting, employees have minimal contact with themselves. Hence, they move straight to relevant matters, and soon, everybody returns to work.
- Professional Growth: managing remote teams can be very flexible. This is because employers and employees work based on their schedules and have more time to advance their skill level for the company’s benefit.
Challenges of Remote Work
Irrespective of the benefits of the choice of remote teams, there are challenges that can deter the success of managing remote teams. These ups and downs can range from:
• Technical Failures: the ability of employees to work smoothly depends on their knowledge regarding the use of equipment, especially advanced and sophisticated devices. Some technical requirements may need training, and it may become a duty of the company to provide the necessary equipment and virtual training on how to use it and avoid technical failure. In many cases where the equipment, training, and essential guidance are unavailable, the staffers are forced to sort out equipment by themselves and seek the services of quacks in times of technical breakdown. This can adversely affect the success of the remote team.
• Lack of Workplace Communication: The disparity in location can sometimes pose a significant challenge to the team’s success. In a traditional setting, staffers are involved in a daily rapport with the administration or with one another. And where issues arise, an employee can easily contact another employee who best understands the work. It may also require the management have weekly meetings with employees to keep them in touch with the job and remind them of the demands of the job. In the meetings, novel developments can be discussed. But this is not entirely so in remote work settings: even though software like Google meets is breaching that gap.
• Time Zones: working from different time zones can lead to delays in work and the flow of information if not properly managed. In cases such as these, meetings will have to benefit all employees or be delegated to different times.
• Issues with Productivity: remote work can affect productivity. This occurs mainly when the employee is not dedicated enough to the work to be able to work effectively without supervision. Productivity issues can also arise when the employer or employee is involved in an unplanned schedule or has inadequate schedule management. It can also occur when an employee indulges in frivolous activities and seem to forget to meet a work target.
• Distractions: working in a remote team can have distraction issues that can interrupt the employee’s work and progress. These distractions include romance, alcohol, social media, and the constant need to move around. In this case, the management must make it a duty to always keep in touch with employees and make sure that they are reminded of the daily and weekly work targets. This is why communication is essential in every remote team.
• The Absence of Social Interaction: remote team jobs can isolate an employee and an employee since they need time away from large crowds, friends, or social activities that may deter their work progress. The employee’s constant need for social interaction can gradually lead to losing touch with the work. In this regard, it is important to hold daily sessions or chats with employees to know how they are faring and their challenges with the job. In these daily interactions, the introduction of brief social discussions can be essential.
As the world continues to change and it becomes much easier for people to work millions of kilometers away from the traditional office, many challenges will arise. The truth is, nobody wants logs of woods full of remote teams. You want a virtual team that can advance the organization. This may not happen if you allow the teams to work based on their whims and caprices. Hence, to manage remote teams, you need to develop a remote working culture: a guide that will checkmate their activities for the company and ensure they are productive day-in-day-out. To achieve this, you need to help the team overcome their daily distractions by employing technological advancements like Google Meets and Slack to enhance regular communication, a good feedback channel, and so forth.
Ayo Oyedotun is a professional blogger and freelance writer. He reads, writes and talks about business. You can follow him on Twitter @Ayo_Oyedotun[http://twitter.com/#!/Ayo_Oyedotun] or read Business Owners’ Bible[http://woculus.com/].
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