Working remotely has many benefits for employees and their managers. Telecommuting saves time wasted on useless meetings and commuting and enhances productivity, among others.
Despite the upsides of working from home, managing a remote team can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time to adopt it. Here are some tips to effectively manage a remote team.
Have a Chat Room Open Constantly
Communication is critical in remote teams to roll out updates, share client’s feedback with your team, or get employees’ input on projects and tasks.
That doesn’t mean you have to hold a video conference three times a day. Instead, create an open chat room where employees can share their ideas and thoughts.
Time is precious. Instead of calling everyone for a Zoom meeting, you can say the same thing within five seconds via a chat platform, such as Slack.
You may have employees in different time zones who can’t attend every meeting. In the chat room, people can catch up with and respond to open threads anytime.
When selecting a chat app, go for a cost-effective one that integrates well with other apps, such as Google Drive, Gmail, Google Calendar, and more. That way, you will be able to handle all your conversations from one place.
Popular options are Skype, Slack, and HipChat. Skype is ideal if you want a free option, but it lacks some of the integrations and the ability to keep your company more organized.
Set up Regular Check-ins
Check-ins refer to one-on-one conversations between employees and managers about goals, objectives, and performance plans. They allow you to be on the same page with your remote employees without treating the check-in as an actual meeting.
Regular check-ins with your team are crucial to maintaining productivity, as they allow you to:
- Review your employees’ performance and the work they’ve completed
- Track productivity levels over a particular duration
- Find ways to make an individual or team more efficient
- Support employees through challenges they may be facing
Support is essential if your team is transitioning to remote work due to the current pandemic. If your employees are working from home for the first time, they might experience challenges related to:
- Balancing work and life
- Working outside the physical office
- Dealing with isolation and loneliness
- Ignoring distractions
You can have weekly, monthly, or even quarterly check-ins, depending on company culture, employees, and type of work.
Set up a Project Management System
In a conventional office environment, you can walk into the workplace and ask your employees about their tasks. But the same can’t apply to a remote team.
To stay up to speed, many remote teams often use project management platforms like Trello, Asana, Basecamp, Freedcamp, and more.
If you manage your virtual team through email, things can get messy and disorganized. With project collaboration tools, you can quickly check on your projects’ status and assign tasks to members.
That way, it’s easier to keep track of your team and projects. Besides, project management apps help you organize conversations and documents, so you can easily find them later.
Track Hours Worked
If your compensation system is based on the number of hours worked, you should implement a time tracking system.
In an office, you can see who is present, even without a system to track attendance. But in a virtual environment, you can’t always know what each person is working on and how long it takes them to complete some tasks.
Some employees are disciplined; they can start working on time, avoid distractions, and stay on task. But most of us work well when there’s some accountability in place, making time tracking a necessity.
When introducing remote time tracking in your company, you need to establish the reasons and goals. Is it to monitor employee performance, increase billing, keep an eye on productivity, or something else?
Then, start searching for an application with the necessary tracking and reporting features. It can be a simple time card calculator to track billable hours or a system with other functionalities like URL and app monitoring.
Talk to your team about the new time tracking policy. Highlight the positive side of remote staff tracking. Explain how it makes people more accountable and compensation more fair.
Also, make sure to regularly get and give feedback from your team.
To make your virtual team super-efficient, communicate with them often, and have a system to help track their time and performance.
Support your team at each stage to show that you value them and have their back. The outcome is open and honest communication essential for maintaining accountability when working remotely.
The result will be a surge in productivity.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie. When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows. Follow him on @bmorepeters