How To Run A Remote Team: 6 Valuable Tips

How to Run A Remote Team: 6 Valuable Tips

by Alex Noah — 1 year ago in Review 6 min. read

Businesses that are still yet to transition to remote work may only be doing so to avoid difficulty. After all, changing work environments requires a lot of changes and adjustments.

Some organizations that just made the move are still struggling to adjust and are dealing with a myriad of issues, from communication barriers to collaboration challenges.

That said, with the right strategies and resources, you can make the most of remote work and boost your workers’ productivity.

This article covers different tips on running a remote team efficiently.

1. Set Clear Expectations

Setting clear expectations allows everyone to understand your organization’s goals and strategies, ensuring cohesion and putting workers on the right path.

But you’re not just showing workers the company’s broad objectives and long-term projections; you’re also outlining what you expect them to achieve as individuals.

While they clearly know their job descriptions, you should elaborate on performance standards, expected results, and work behavior. That way, you’re eliminating confusion and telling them in clear terms what is accepted and what they should achieve.

Your expectations should serve as a working blueprint that they can always refer to whenever they’re unsure about the next steps in the work process.

2. Encourage Teamwork

Teamwork is a great productivity fuel and one of the defining success factors for any organization. Employees have to work together to execute large and complex projects, especially when deadlines have to be met.

But working as a team is more than passing on tasks from one team member to the other. Instead, it involves a deep level of communication and understanding.

Teamwork can be a serious challenge for work-from-home employees. That’s because remote work environments lack physical elements that foster collaboration. That said, with the right strategy, you can increase the bond between remote workers and get them to do things as a unit.

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Organize Team Building Activities

Team building activities can significantly strengthen your team’s bond and make remote workers more comfortable with each other. Organizing activities outside conventional work environments can help workers socialize better and break down communication and collaboration barriers.

While setting up these activities is more challenging with remote workers, you can make them happen. There are different team-building events suited to work-from-home employees that you can leverage.

Some activities include:

  • A home-office tour session where workers take turns in showing off their workspaces.
  • Virtual group workout where you can engage a personal trainer to oversee workout sessions.
  • Online gaming allows remote workers to collaborate in teams against each other.
  • Show and learn sessions where each worker teaches the rest of the team a unique skill.
  • Food reveals sessions where workers show each other their dieting plans and energy-boosting hacks.

Create a Virtual Break Room

The casual chats that happen in a physical officer’s break room are among the potent exercises that strengthen team spirit. They’re part of the biggest differences between remote and in-house teams.

While the in-office break room enjoys the perks of physical presence, you can make a virtual break room a lot of fun.

You can create a virtual room where team members can log in and enjoy casual conversations not burdened by work decorum. They can use the room to catch up on different things, from a team member’s vacation to plans for a baby shower.

To make the break room effective, encourage workers to use it without attaching a punishment or prejudice to logins. You can assign hours to use the break room just as in-office break rooms are traditionally used for lunch and coffee breaks.

Include Team Members in Decision-Making

Whenever you want to make a decision on how to move a project forward, consult team members to get their input. Since you’ll be establishing processes and policies that affect how they work, keeping them out of the loop will only backfire.

You can organize brainstorming sessions to figure out the best way to move forward with a complex change or a new project.

That way, remote workers will feel more inclusive and valued, boosting worker morale and strengthening the team bond.

3. Support and Foster Communication

Teams can’t function without communicating. You need employees to talk to each other to get things right and meet deadlines. But communicating is more than merely exchanging words and ideas.

Without effective interactions, team members can misunderstand themselves and make costly errors as a result.

Effective communication is even more crucial in remote working environments. Since they work alone, employees may find it more difficult to reach out to colleagues to clarify critical issues. They may also end up working in silos due to the many communication barriers and lack of instant replies that come with remote work.

But there are things you can do to turn the tide and promote effective communication in the remote workplace.

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Establish Communication Channels

Establishing communication channels allows workers to know how to communicate. For example, each Slack channel can be dedicated to a particular purpose, and messages sent via Skype can be tagged critical.

Using defined channels for different processes allows your team members to:

  • Know when a message demands an immediate reply
  • Understand the kind of message that came through
  • Know how to deal with or use a request, inquiry, or information
  • Know the right way to reach out to other team members
  • Get comfortable with communication and know what to expect

You should also consult team members to know which communication channels they prefer and set up your policies according to those preferences.

Provide Communication Tools

There are a handful of tools designed to boost communication in remote teams. From text-based platforms to audio and video communication tools, you can equip workers with the right communication resources.

But before you go about choosing communication tools, make sure you communicate with team members and get their input. There are also factors that you must consider before choosing remote communication platforms.

These factors include the size of your team, your nature of work, how frequently you need to communicate, and your business’ budget.

Encourage Asynchronous Communication

In-office environments enjoy synchronous communication where feedback happens immediately. On the other hand, remote workspaces have to lean towards asynchronous communication where there’s a slight delay in replies.

You should prepare your workers for this reality and tell them to organize their schedules around asynchronous communication. That way, they can learn to expect replies later. This method means they won’t have to disrupt their colleagues’ workflow.

That said, you can establish protocols for urgent situations.

4. Optimize Meeting Schedules

Meetings are important activities that bring the team together and boost collaboration. In remote work environments, they’re more important as they remind workers they’re still part of a team and give everyone an opportunity to communicate.

But meetings will backfire if you don’t organize them well.

According to reports published in Forbes, 55 million meetings are scheduled daily and at least half of them are unproductive.

So, ensure you optimize your meeting schedules so they can achieve their objectives and not disrupt workers’ schedules for nothing. If a meeting doesn’t have a meaningful agenda and emails can suffice, don’t schedule it.

You should also focus on organizing relevant meetings when everyone’s free periods intersect. That way, workers won’t be sacrificing important work for meetings.

5. Leverage Remote Work Tools

From communication to collaboration and administration, there are different tools designed to make remote work easier and more effective. You can leverage these tools to run your team efficiently and boost their productivity.

Each tool serves different purposes and you have to choose them according to your company’s needs, your staff structure, and your budget. The good thing is that, for each category, there are many platforms to choose from. That way, you can find one that meets your budgetary arrangements and team size.

So, what do you need remote tools for?

Employee Monitoring

You need a tool that monitors how remote employees go about work to promote accountability, calculate billable hours, improve focus, and track productivity. Automatic time-tracking tools can help you achieve that and more.

You can use time trackers to calculate billable hours, track your workers’ productivity, and figure out the best way to optimize workload management.

Automate Tasks

Automation helps you and your remote workers to free up your schedule by removing repetitive manual tasks. Automating your tasks also means fewer errors and mistakes.

Tools like project managers and time trackers can help you to automate different aspects of work.

A project management solution can help you automate your workflow so workers don’t have to manually hand over tasks.

Time trackers can automatically create timesheets and invoices, reducing accounting workload and getting rid of human errors.

Collaborate Through Real-Time File-Sharing and Document Editing

File-sharing is important since you can’t physically hand off files or use workplace networks and servers. Tools like Google Drive allow you and your workers to share files and edit documents in real time.

These platforms can also integrate with your project management tools to make sure task tracking is more effective and efficient.

Efficiently Manage Workload

Project management solutions provide advanced tools that help you stay on top of workload management.

You can easily assign tasks, comment and provide feedback, monitor progress, and organize check-ins. The tool can also provide insights into employee productivity so you know the right person suited for particular tasks.

For example, if you want to assign an urgent job, you can find out which remote worker is the most reliable to trust with that kind of work.

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6. Avoid Micromanagement

Micromanagement is one of the most unhealthy management practices in any workplace. As a remote work manager, you may be tempted to always follow up with your team members to make sure they’re on the job and are doing things right.

This management style will only weaken trust, reduce morale, and stifle creativity. Workers will no longer be able to work freely because you’re always looking over their shoulders and monitoring their every move.

So, trust your workers to do their jobs and remove yourself from their work process. Giving them autonomy over how they work will boost their morale and increase productivity.

What’s more, focusing on results means you have time for other important work.

Key Takeaways

Managing remote workers can be fun with the right tools, workers, and strategies. Remember to help workers find their work-life balance and prevent overwork and burnout.

Alex Noah

Alex is senior editor of The Next Tech. He studied International Communication Management at the Hague University of Applied Sciences.

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