Business

The Best Advice For Running A Remote Team

At one point in time, businesses without a permanent premises were by definition start-ups. Businesses that started in someone’s home either grew exponentially, or failed within their first few months. That was truly a dark era for entrepreneurs, but times have changed! With the internet and cloud technology being more accessible than ever, remote workers are becoming more commonplace. While it’s more common, managing a remote team isn’t always easy. If you’re feeling nervous about starting your remote business, then it pays to know what to expect. Here are some of my best tips for managing remote workers.

First of all, focus on productivity more than anything. This will probably come naturally when you’re in your start-up phase. However, it isn’t something you can afford to neglect when you’re managing remote workers. For the new business owner, it can be tempting to judge employees on their people skills, and the way they present themselves. This really needs to be secondary when you’re managing a remote team. Instead of any social factors, you should monitor your employees’ goals and what they actually deliver. No matter how many hours they work, you should be setting strict quotas, and taking steps to make sure they’re met consistently. It can be easy to slack on productivity when you barely ever see your workforce. However, you should be managing your remote team like any other. Keep close tabs on the timelines and goals of any projects you and your team are working on.

 

To be a good manager, you should be checking in with your remote team regularly. We come to one of the major drawbacks of not having an office space here. When you’re not around your boss and colleagues all the time, the structure of projects can begin to fall apart. You need to have regular, real-time conversations with your team to make sure everything’s moving ahead as it should be. These meetings should be at least weekly, though you may want to have them more often if you’re managing a lot of people. Use these sessions to talk about the progress the team is making, things that could be improved, and any challenges that might be on the horizon. There are a range of ways you can do this, such as video and phone conferencing software. Just make sure you select the groups wisely. There’s no point having a meeting with the whole team if the focus only affects 3 people! If you have an office space, and your workers aren’t spread too far apart, then bring them in once in a while. This will add a helpful, hands-on element to your working relationship. If you’ve got the resources, having your office space optimised can be a huge help for your remote workers’ morale. Read about co-working spaces online, and see if they’ll do anything to help your remote team.

You should try to be a proactive and personable boss, no matter what kind of business you’re running. However, when you’re managing a remote team, it becomes even more important. As I’ve said before, not having a physical office space can lead to a workforce feeling disconnected or isolated. This leads to poorer relationships with everyone at the business, and slowed productivity overall. Return to my first point for my thoughts on productivity! Make sure to keep up communications with everyone, at every level of your business. It always pays to have a regular one-to-one with everyone on your remote team. This is true even when there are workers who you never need to talk to directly. After a while, you’ll start to notice certain big issues among the team. If something about the project is a big talking point with all your workers, then pay attention. There may be some damaging problem which isn’t quite being addressed. Make sure that you jump on these right away, and deal with any problems which are hindering productivity. If your workforce isn’t getting what they need from you, then your projects will fall apart faster than you’d imagine! Be sure to talk with each individual on your remote team, at least quarterly. Discuss how their work is going, their long-term career goals, and any big things they think could be improved about the current project. Becoming a disconnected boss is one of the biggest dangers of managing a remote team. If you manage to slip into it, it can be very hard to recover your working relationships, and undo the damage.

 

Finally, make sure you hire good communicators. When you’re working from a physical office, communication is still important. However, you can still get by with a few people who simply aren’t that great at it. within a remote team though, communication is pretty much essential if you want the project to keep moving properly. Again, with remote workers, you can’t simply stroll to the water cooler and see if someone’s having trouble with their work. They need to be able to tell you exactly what the issue is through whatever channels you’re using. The devil is in the details here. Because you can’t physically show someone what you mean, clear and detailed comms are hugely important. If your employee manages to miss one little detail, then the whole message can be misinterpreted. I’m sure you can imagine the kinds of frustrating setbacks that come out of this! Either hire people with proven communication skills, or emphasise it a lot whenever you’re briefing your team. Make sure you emphasise trust during all of this. If your employees don’t feel like they can trust you, your communications will always be severely crippled.

Take this advice on board, and managing your remote team will be easier than you could have hoped for! Running a business remotely can feel like a step into the unknown, especially if you’ve only worked in more conventional structures. However, with a few little changes, you’ll find it easy to hit the ground running. Managing employees from a computer screen is only as hard as you make it!

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elliott

elliott

Ive been blogging now for 5 years on various sites for the love of knowledge share. I decided to start my own blog a few years back to share everything from tech to business news. Follow me on twitter for more.