How to lead remote teams effectively

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, remote work has been on the rise. Research by business and software review site GetApp, reveals a staggering 400% increase in the number of people who work remotely within the last ten years.

A CFO survey conducted by global research and advisory firm Gartner, Inc. in March 2020 shows that 74% of companies plan to transition permanently to remote teams after the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Experts forecast that by 2025, 70% of the global workforce will be working away from their office at least five days a month.

remote teamsRemote work is not a passing trend. On the contrary, it is on the verge of becoming the new normal, one that all businesses must prepare for if they want to keep up with the competition. And while there are several advantages to working from home (or a coffee shop or a secluded beach somewhere in the tropics), there are hurdles and hitches, too. Some challenges are unavoidable, such as lack of in-person supervision, limited access to information, isolation from co-workers, interruptions at home, technical issues. Imagine how these could impact team collaboration, performance, and commitment to the company’s objectives?

Handling these downsides could be an enormous test of one’s management skills. However, as daunting as these challenges can be, there are also clever and inexpensive ways that managers can do to lead remote teams efficiently. What are these solutions, and how do you go about doing them? Read on to discover.

Setting up remote teams

Assembling a remote team does not only require massive amounts of time and effort. It also needs strategic thinking and thorough planning. Be sure to have a clear purpose for creating the team, then set definite and practicable goals while cultivating early on a culture of productivity.

Remote teams typically include people from different parts of the world, so you should be ready to handle diverse cultures, social differences, and time zone variances. To foster unity and collaboration within the team, build a structure that stabilizes operations. One way to do this is to define the employees’ respective tasks by creating an organizational chart. It eliminates confusion regarding different responsibilities and prevents employees from encroaching on each other’s duties. Furthermore, outline the team’s processes by establishing a workflow that promotes security and efficiency. The workflow should include a schedule for meetings to maintain open communication channels and counter errors caused by misinformation.

Lastly, recruit the right talent. Do not focus merely on a candidate’s technical expertise and skills but also look at their behavioural profile.  Additionally, check that the recruit has the technical capacity and hardware to support the programs and applications necessary to run the company operations. By doing this, you guarantee business continuity and prevent delays.

Empowering your team

Cosiness, comfort, and convenience are among the things employees miss about working on-site. It essential that your team continue to have a healthy and dynamic relationship with each other even if they barely see each other in person. To keep the office culture alive and recreate the experience, nurture a sense of community based on trust, respect, and commitment to the same goals.

Involve your team in brainstorming sessions and decision-making processes as much as possible. Schedule regular team meetings where you can provide feedback, reward achievements, and discuss solutions to problems. However, it is also crucial that you stay connected through informal conferences, face-to-face coaching, virtual coffee breaks, team buildings, and on-site company events. Not only will this prevent burn-out. It will also make distant working enjoyable. To prevent employees from feeling isolated, implement a buddy system where you pair an employee with another colleague to discuss concerns and learn about the company culture.

Enable employees to be productive by helping them establish a personal home workstation, equipped with the right tools needed to perform their jobs effectively. Furthermore, look for ways to promote inclusion and instil enthusiasm in your team. Invest in the professional growth and personal advancement of your staff. Employee development need not be expensive. There are various virtual courses, online training, and self-learning activities that can enhance their skills.

Setting clear goals

Group goals are paramount to roadmaps that steer your team in the right direction. Without them, you will never succeed in attaining your business objectives. For this reason, you must have a comprehensive and extensive set of guidelines and policies. The framework should detail the mission and vision of the company and lays out expectations for every employee. Such includes performance parameters, project timelines, and standardized rules on attendance, schedules, and time-offs. Having these ensures that everyone is on the same page and is aware of their accountability.

Take note that remote work has shifted how companies view employee accomplishment. The majority of businesses now look for output or goals completed instead of hours worked. Managers must re-consider the performance metrics, ensuring that they are aligned with the company’s objectives while conforming to the new normal. Although your team goals must be precise and specific, they must also be progressive, flexible, and open to errors and improvement. Remember that one of the best ways to motivate the team to accomplish goals by creating an incentive scheme.

Lastly, measure and recalibrate your team goals. Spend time with your team in reviewing the effectiveness of your processes. Determine what worked, what didn’t, and what areas have the potential for success.

Leadership development

Compared to traditional managers, those handling remote teams require additional abilities and attributes, primarily because they cannot work side-by-side with their team members. Leadership training is vital in every business, but more so in a remote work setup.

Enhance your communication skills, work on honing empathy, and learn to relinquish control so your team can grow independently. Inspire others to be leaders themselves. Do this by encouraging ambition and self-improvement among your employees. Provide opportunities for self-management, self-reflection, and self-awareness.

You may have brilliant ideas for managing your team, but sometimes you need assistance to turn these plans into concrete and workable actions. Whether you have been managing teams for years or just starting, it is worth expanding your knowledge and enriching your skills. Consider taking leadership development and management courses to advance your professional growth and discover new management trends. For holistic and complete development, make sure that you have a diverse learning experience by trying different learning styles and content.