5 Best Practices For Managing Remote Teams
Hiring RemoteWorking Remotely
Create a professional, productive, and efficient remote work environment no matter where your employees clock in.
What’s the best way to manage remote teams?
There’s a delicate balance between keeping your employees on track from afar and being a virtual micromanager.
Follow these remote team management best practices in this guide, and you’ll create a productive, efficient remote team that’s excited to show up (virtually).
And that all starts with setting expectations for working remotely early on.
#1. Create a Remote Work Policy
Just like you have an in-house policy when it comes to your company’s work environment and expectations, you need to have one for your remote team.
This is beneficial for a few reasons.
First, it sets a professional standard that every employee -- new and existing -- should adhere to. This keeps the work environment fair and eliminates favoritism issues.
A remote work policy also ensures that everyone knows what to expect and what’s required of them.
As you establish rules for what everyone should be doing, your team will run like an efficient, streamlined, modern-day digital assembly line.
These protocols prevent surprises, confusion, and training discrepancies.
Don’t have a policy for working remotely yet? Learn how to create a working remotely policy for your virtual employees in this guide next!
#2. Communicate Regularly
How you communicate and how often will determine some of your success in managing a remote team.
If you disappear for a few days and only surface to point out mistakes, you’re not going to create a happy team that enjoys working under you each day.
To avoid this, it’s crucial that you reach out regularly, not just when things go wrong, and that you consistently stay in touch.
This does not mean you have to bombard your employees with Slack messages all day every day.
To do this correctly, set daily, weekly, and monthly check-ins with your team.
Don’t forget to outline these communication rules in your remote working policy -- and stick to them!
Your daily check-ins can be as simple as, “Good morning, how’s everyone doing?”
Then you can message everyone with a quick work update, such as which deadlines you have coming up or what everyone’s working on for the day.
These regular check-ins keep employees on track and motivated to keep going. They also help you manage projects and combat obstacles before they cause you to miss your targets.
Another good idea: occasionally weave in video chats to keep the human connection going.
Remote team members may not want to be on camera every time they check-in, but every so often is definitely doable.
Taking these steps to stay in touch helps foster team camaraderie despite everyone working in different zip codes. Everyone should feel like they’re a part of a collective unit working in-tandem on your shared goals.
Want to boost your remote communication skills? Check out this guide later to learn how to build and stay in touch with the remote team of your dreams!
#3. Use One Centralized Project Management Tool
Project management (PM) tools are a vital ingredient for remote teams. Here, you’ll give team members access to all the work in the pipeline.
As a manager, PM tools let you keep track of what your virtual employees are (or should be) doing to meet their deadlines.
You can comment and add additional resources for projects right in the PM platform to keep everything in one centralized location.
But PM tools must be used regularly and consistently by everyone.
If you decide to set up a PM tool and fail to use it -- or only some of your employees use it while the others use something else -- projects and essential details will soon start slipping through the cracks.
You don’t need us to tell you what happens next.
Instead of getting to that point, choose a project management tool everyone on your team feels comfortable with.
When you’re setting up projects, think of your PM board like an assembly line. Team members should know exactly which way to go because you’ve set up the process in order from start to finish.
Consistently update projects and keep team members in the loop whenever there are changes. Tag employees in at least two ways (like in the PM tool and via email or Slack message) in case they miss one of your updates.
Explain the project management tools you’ll be using to your employees and add this information to your remote work policy so everyone’s on the same page.
What are the best project management and communication tools for remote teams? We shared three great options in this guide you should read next.
#4. Always Give Kudos
Working remotely can make virtual employees feel isolated and lonely at times.
While you can’t be there physically to change that, you can create a warm, welcoming remote work environment where team members feel connected.
What’s the best way to do this?
Giving kudos to your team members and saying thank you whenever possible.
Recognition goes a long way in the virtual world, especially for remote employees who may feel distant or disconnected from your in-house team.
So to do this, keep track of both big and small wins your team makes, even if it’s just getting a project out on time.
Celebrate everyone involved in a “Kudos” channel in Slack or via company update emails.
Always shout out and mention each person involved and give credit where it’s due.
This simple act is rewarding, motivating, and encouraging for employees. It can also help people feel like they’re part of a bigger team even though they may be working home alone.
That also leads us right into our last best practice:
#5. Have Fun in Between Work Hours
Don’t forget to have some fun with your remote team!
Think about ways you can create a virtual office water cooler where employees can occasionally bring up non-work related topics like movies, memes, and TV shows.
Add a “Water Cooler” or “Random” Slack channel to separate work talk from these fun TV discussions or movie theories.
Just make sure everyone knows to keep these conversations work-appropriate. If you or they wouldn’t send these messages in-house at a corporate office, they shouldn’t be sent virtually.
Do this and you’ll have a tribe of teammates eager to work virtually as one connected unit.
Try These Best Practices to Manage a Remote Team Today
Hooray! You now have the blueprint to manage a remote team successfully.
As you can see, managing remote teams only requires a few easy shifts in your leadership style.
Follow these remote team management best practices, and you’ll create a virtual work environment that lowers employee turnover and maximizes productivity.
Don’t know where to start? Begin by setting up your working remotely policy. Then pick out your preferred project management tools.
Communicate often, always recognize game when your team members score big, and don’t forget to have fun!
You’ll quickly become everyone’s favorite remote manager and never spend your precious time micromanaging from afar again.
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