In today’s working environment and trends, remote teams are an extremely common thing. The reason for this tendency is the fact that companies have begun to recognize the way remote work can affect employee productivity, satisfaction and cost cut.
However, even considering the benefits, managing a remote team may be quite challenging, especially if you want its members to feel that they are working on achieving the same goal. We have done our research and have made shortlist of some of the most common challenges related to remote team management and ways to overcome them.
Challenge 1. Communication
For most teams, communication is the main ingredient for success. It is crucial to collect input from each team member to know exactly what they are currently working on. Remote team management has a serious limitation – lack of regular, open communication. And if you turn to conventional email marketing in this situation, it won’t help either, as emails aren’t exactly the fastest way of communication, in most cases.
One of the ways to overcome this shortcoming of managing a remote team is by making a special place for communication. And you can apply this even if your team members are spending days in the same room. But, it’s especially effective and important, when you manage a team of freelancers. So, for instance, such tool as Slack could provide your team with communication carried out through various channels.
You can also use some of the more conventional apps, including Skype, WhatsApp and Telegram, but they are far simpler than Slack. It pretty much doesn’t matter what tool exactly you will choose – it has to provide you with a two-way communication. You want your remote employees to feel that they are part of the team and a steady communication channel is a good way of overcoming isolation.
Challenge 2. Work and Productivity Monitoring
Knowing how much work and how fast a remote team can accomplish is also a serious challenge. Lots of managers don’t know what to do about it. It is difficult to learn if an employee is not used to their full potential or isn’t able to do their part without a clear comprehension of their own productivity.
This is why remote managers and supervisors should set up ways that would enable them to monitor productivity of all their employees. This may include a wide range of things, such as metrics for the amount of work that should be accomplished on a daily basis. Here is an example of daily milestone list:
1. Creating and supporting a company Facebook page or blog;
2. Scheduling 10 social media posts each hour;
3. Completing 150 cold calls during each shift.
Chosen KPI metrics for remote team productivity evaluation should be the same you’d use for in-office workers. This way you will be able to clarify your expectations and set up daily requirements, wherever your team is located and no matter how it works.
Challenge 3. Company Culture
Company culture is one of the things that take time to establish. Moreover, it also requires hiring the right workers, cultivating robust communication and inspire this culture throughout the company. Whatever type of company culture you want to create and cultivate, you have to get prepared for focusing on it harder and putting more effort into it, when you have a remote team. There are cases, when culture gets shaped without any perceptible struggle, if you have your company in the office. But, when it comes to remote teams, it’s a totally different thing that requires wit and dedication.
In order to develop a healthy company culture with a remote team that would reflect your business’ vision and values needs a plan, like pretty much any other initiative or project. It all starts with how the manager, supervisor or literal boss interacts with employees.
For example, if you want to encourage an open communication culture, your remote workers should be capable of communicating with each team member, including even the leadership staff, and have a ‘virtual open door’ policy. In case you want to encourage a fun culture, you may try and schedule fun team meetings, cooperative video gaming, or even such simple things as hosting a movie night over the web.
Challenge 4. Issues with Scheduling
If you have a team that is scattered across different time zones, it could be quite a challenge to schedule a video or phone call meeting that would involve all of it. Moreover, if you have freelancers – or independent contractors – in your team, this situation can get even worse, because they don’t have consistent work schedules. Settling on a time that would work for each team member would require you to know where all of them live and their agendas.
First of all, there are multiple tools available online that can help you schedule calls, video conferences or even meetings with your remote teams. You can make an online poll and include the selected dates along with the times that your team members may choose or select one of the multiple calendaring apps and websites that estimate participant availability to make it work – in other words, there are quite a few ways that you can make the meeting scheduling process simple and effective.
Make sure you plan additional payment to your team members for the attendance of virtual team meetings and calls. Some supervisors and managers that work with freelancers don’t even consider paying them for calls, just taking it into account as a part of the entire project payment, while they wouldn’t do any meetings related to work off the clock for free. Such managers are often puzzled by contractors’ unavailability for sudden meetings or calls. Thus, if a call or meeting is obligatory, you should plan on paying team members for their attendance.
Challenge 5. Developing Trust
Trust is hard to build, when it comes to remote teams and their managers. The latter are concerned that their employees don’t complete their work, while the former have their range of worries, such as untimely payment (or in some cases, any payment whatsoever). But, you can help the situation by simply being transparent about such things, as the following:
- Project expectations
- Working hours
- Payment timelines
- Project status updates
It is essential that you are honest regarding the workload you expect your contractors to fulfill. A lot of companies tell their freelance workers that they may expect work amounts to substantially increase during the following months, even when it’s not true.
Such statements could be made with good intentions, but they will most surely brush most employees the wrong way. Some of them could even have agreed to a lower payment due to the promised workloads, so when this doesn’t turn out to be true, they will most certainly feel deceived.
Challenge 6. Personal Meetings and Morale
If you want your team’s morale to be in check, you need to have personal meetings. Although it may seem like an inconvenience to schedule individual meetings with each team member, they make employees feel that they are appreciated and valued, and as well give you a chance to share feedback on their work performance.
If you don’t schedule these meetings on a regular basis or have to reschedule them, your remote employees may start feeling out of touch with your company and not entirely sure about their stance in it.
Challenge 7. In-Person Meetings
One of the greatest things about working with other people is that you have the opportunity to get to know them on a personal level. This is hard to do when your workers live in different time zones and places. If you can, try planning out some get-togethers with your team members at least once a year. This is a great way to meet your employees in real life.
Even teams consisting of independent contractors can arrange plans to meet together via an annual conference, meeting or convention. Some of the remote workers, if you have a well-established company culture, can even plan to visit one another, when they travel to places nearby, while fulfilling other duties.
In other words, there are many ways you can get your remote team together in one place at least one time in a year, and it will be one of the best ways to reinforce its inner bonds and understanding.
Managing Remote Teams via Vectorly
While it is certainly important to have personal connection with your remote employees, the most critical factors are still your team’s productivity, performance and goal achievement. In other words, you should primarily focus on monitoring the way your team performs its duties and how well the project in question progresses.
And while you can make tables, charts and lists of their skills, talents and tasks, you can still get tangled in all the details and get a serious headache trying to get a one solid picture out of it.
But now you have Vectorly. In a nutshell, this is a multilateral tool that does the exact thing you need when managing a remote team – provides you with a detailed and thorough picture of your team’s stance. This includes its progress on a project, individual statistics, such as skills, strengths, weaknesses, timeline compliance, etc.
Essentially, you can make anything you need out of Vectorly in terms of team management. At the moment, the tool can be connected to such task management platforms, as Trello and Jira, and will gradually expand to other platforms to make become accessible to as many users as possible.
While you will still have to look for ways to connect with your remote employees either through Slack, Skype or what-not, you will have a clear understanding of how well your team works, what it does better and what can be improved, and will always know what you should discuss with them and where to direct them. Just give Vectorly a try today at Vectorly.team for free to check out how you can benefit from it.