How to efficiently manage a remote team
A beginner's guide (+ useful tools)
How to efficiently manage a remote team
A beginner's guide (+ useful tools)
Anastasia Shiverskikh
Marketing Manager @ HRimplant
FEBRUARY, 29/ 2020
No matter whether you're thinking of hiring remote workers in the future or still believe that it's not relevant for your business (trust me it is), the ability to manage a remote team today has become one of the top skills for modern leaders.

There are many factors affecting the modern workplace, such as continuing (and never-stopping) globalization, internationalization of markets, as well as millennials becoming the primary working age group and demanding more flexibility and a better work-life balance. There can also be different contingent factors, like the recent coronavirus outbreak that
forced thousands of people all over the world to start working from home.

Whatever the reason is, as a business leader today, it is your responsibility to be in the know about the tools and practices needed to successfully manage a remote team. Here's a beginner's guide that will give you a head start in running your business remotely.
1. Start with communication

The most important thing to consider is how remote-friendly your communication channels are. In order to start managing remotely, you need to make sure that each worker can reach their respective manager easily and fast through whichever channels you use to communicate. For example, emails are great, but if they are the only way you communicate with your team, that will hinder your productivity in a remote team.

Today, there are many great ways to connect with your employees who work outside of the office so don't be afraid to try new tools and services. In addition to conventional tools like
Slack and Google Meet, you might want to get familiar and comfortable with Zoom, Loom, Whereby (formerly Appear.in), Workplace by Facebook, invest in high quality web cameras, mics or even more sophisticated technology like Meeting Owl.

Try to choose video- and phone-calls over texting and emails as much as possible because it's just so much faster to explain a complicated idea in a call rather than over a text. Plus, it will help you avoid miscommunication and all sorts of misunderstandings. As a side note, starting to manage remotely requires a certain level of open-mindedness. Ask your remote workers which communication tools work best for them and ditch whatever doesn't.
2. Assess how you currently delegate and distribute tasks

How do you usually decide who does what? Are current goals and tasks discussed in a meeting room with the entire team? Or maybe they are talked about between key decision makers and then allocated to different workers? If that's your current approach to task distribution, there is some work to be done because it's not going to fly with remote teams.

To successfully distribute tasks among your remote team members, start by setting up your accounts in
ClickUp, Asana, Trello, Monday or whatever else works best for you. Once they are up and running, make sure your team members know how to use them and are fully familiar with their functionality. That being said, avoid leaving important notes or allocating tasks without notifying your team about it or using features that no one on your team has used before. Over-communicating about task allocation in remote teams is the right level of communicating.

Another aspect of this is keeping in mind that among the top reasons people go into remote work is so that they are not bossed around about their schedules, given more flexibility and voice. Talk to your remote workers about how to best allocate tasks in a way that allows your business to achieve the desired goals and your remote team to keep the flexibility they need.
3. Help your remote workers learn to prioritize and turn off

More experienced remote workers already know how to schedule their day and make sure they get things done on time. But when they're just starting out, have never had previous experience of working remotely or are forced by an emergency to work from home, you need to help them out with their prioritization and time management. When you assign tasks, make sure your remote workers understand what you expect to be done first and what can be put off. Different features of task managers, like setting deadlines, setting priority, leaving additional notes, can be very handy.

Another important aspect of this, is that very often remote workers don't know how to set boundaries. All of their productivity tools are on their phone -- and they get sucked into the routine of checking them whenever they get a free minute even outside of their working hours. That way, they never turn off which is why, studies show, remote workers are actually
more prone to burnouts than their on-site counterparts.

That being said, apart from helping them to not overwork, make sure to also lead by example. Andrea Breanna, the founder and CEO of
RebelMouse, in one of PowerToFly's webinars, encourages leaders to get out of the office and show their team that they themselves have a life outside of work, adding "When your life is better your work is better". Doing that keeps your remote team from feeling guilty about not working as much as you do as a leader. If you yourself keep messaging at night or on the weekend, you should understand that it puts pressure on your remote team as they feel like they are also expected to be available at all times.

To keep your remote team from burning out, make sure to ask how they're feeling, learn what motivates them and what hinders their productivity. Encourage your team to take time off.
4. Make sure to keep your remote team updated and engaged

How many times has it happened that you walk into the office with exciting news on a great deal you just won or maybe not so exciting news about your team member leaving and you announce the news to whoever is in the room -- leaving everybody else in the dark? To make sure that doesn't happen, you need to establish rules of how you keep your team posted.

You can, for example, create channels on Slack where you share you company's news.
Automating your notifications is one of the best ways to keep your team posted. Catherine Scallen, the head of people ops at SkyVerge, shares that one of the practical tricks they've used is connecting their account on Lattice to a channel in Slack so that whenever someone uses Lattice's 'public praise' function, the message they posted automatically goes to Slack for everyone to see and celebrate.

5. Take security measures

When you have a remote team working for you from different parts of the world, that means lots of logging in from cafés, co-working spaces, and libraries. Encourage your workers to create strong passwords using different services like
LastPass, RoboForm, NordPass, etc., store your sensitive information in a secure place, and use VPN.
6. Finally, trust your remote team

No matter if you allow your on-site employees to work from home or for one reason or another decided to hire remote workers in 2020, you need to trust them and stop micromanaging. Trust is in the core of any healthy remote work relationship with your staff.

Even though remote work has been a workplace trend for many years now and continues to be in the rise, there is still a stigma surrounding remote work. What if my remote workers are going to run their personal errands instead of doing their job? What if they don't deliver on time? If you're worried about accountability, first of all, take time to consider whether you'd hired the right person for a remote position, and second, try and use time trackers to see what your team is up to. Luckily, today, there are plenty to choose from, e.g.
TimeCamp, Time Doctor, Toggl, to name a few.
Use this guide as a head start in running your remote team. Make sure you invest in your learning as a manager because your turnover rate directly depends on it -- because people quit bad managers, not companies.

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