22 May 2019
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How to Manage Remote Teams Like a Pro

When you manage remote teams dispersed around the country – or around the globe – “face time” takes on a whole new meaning.

The quick rise of flex hours, freelance culture, and officeless businesses means that managers and business owners need to exercise their interpersonal and people management skills in new ways.

It’s also taught us that remote workers need just as many, and often more, opportunities to connect than local teams do in order to feel that their contributions are meaningful and that they’re valued as individuals.

We rounded up a few of the most effective management techniques to manage remote teams and to create productive, happy, and connected members – along with a few tech tricks to make them easy to implement.

Hold regular team meetings and one-on-one check ups

We’re not talking “meetings for the sake of meetings.”

We’re talking scheduled weekly status meetings where everyone is present to give updates on projects and workloads, and where general questions and needs are fielded.

The more often your team can meet as a unit, the more connected and responsible they’re likely to feel. The result? Greater commitment and independence when everyone’s on their own again.

We’ve found that holding general meetings once or twice a week creates an ideal baseline to help the team feel more in control, supported, and excited about their work.

One-on-one meetings are also important for fielding individual concerns and questions, providing focused feedback, and offering an opportunity to develop individual working relationships.

Tools we like: Teams, Skype,  Zoom, GoToMeeting

Keep communication flowing daily

Just because your team can’t stroll by one another’s cubicles or go out for lunch doesn’t mean you can’t chat during the day to keep communication flowing. Consider it co-working for dispersed teams.

Checking in with each other, catching up after a weekend, allowing some professional vulnerability, or sharing a few laughs goes a long way to creating the feeling of an open-door policy, regardless of distance.

There’s a productivity bonus too. When your standard is to communicate, you can more easily detect signs of overwhelm, stress, confusion, or delay that may be signaled by radio silence.

Tools we like: Skype for Business, Slack, Flock

Make procedures and project management paramount

Your team may be dealing with anything from workflow to invoicing, how to use different tools, or where to find information. Having standard operations and procedures, training guides, and clear project management tools readily available is key to helping dispersed teams find what they need when they need it.

Of course, the best place to begin is with established onboarding procedures, but it’s never too late to start organizing your practices and projects.

Tools we like: MS Project, Basecamp, Asana, Trello, Looop

Build a strong culture

Creating community might be more natural in an in-person environment, but it’s extra important in a remote work environment.

Use technology to your advantage by creating ways of celebrating events from birthdays to company milestones. That could mean planning and hosting team parties by video, sending tokens of appreciation for a project’s success, or even creating funny gifs and cards that lighten the mood and make people laugh.

Inspire connection within your team, help them to feel included and appreciated, and watch as commitment, pride, and productivity soar.   

Tools we like: Recognize, Applauz, Kudos, BoxFox

Lead accountability

Everyone wants to feel that they’re a part of something bigger. You know your team is independent, capable, trustworthy, and important, but they thrive when they hear it.

Regular communication, sharing your vision and objectives, and being transparent with your team are critical to helping them open up, get to know one another, and become comfortable sharing their views. But they can’t – and won’t – do that unless you lead the charge.

Tools we like: any of the tools we’ve listed above! The key is to choose tools that work best for you and your team and to use them consistently.

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