Remote work is here to stay; it is the present and the future of the work. Though remote work has been around for ages, it was much less accessible pre-pandemic. Only a few companies offered work from home as a perk, but now it has become the norm for most businesses. Did you know, pre covid, around 5 percent of Americans used to work from home, but as the pandemic started, that percentage jumped to 62 percent? And this number is only expected to increase. In fact, as per the predictions, 70% of the workforce will be working remotely by 2025.
Though remote work is great, it offers people a lot of flexibility, allowing them to have a better work-life balance, but it can be a double-edged sword for most businesses. When done right, it can increase their team productivity and vice versa.
If you are managing a remote team, you must have learned over the last two years that managing a team becomes more challenging while working remotely. And maybe it has deterred you from working remotely, but since it looks like things are not going back to how they used to be, it is the right time to learn how to manage remote teams successfully. And with that in mind, below are a few steps in no particular order to help you manage people no matter where they are.
Four Steps to Managing a Remote Team Effectively
In this hybrid work environment, managers need a team they can rely on to perform their duties successfully and consistently, no matter where they are working from, to get the work done successfully.
This means managers like you need to think beyond standard best practices – now we know there are no foolproof ways to manage a remote team successfully – it is tough as every team is unique, and so are their needs. Still, you can take some common steps to manage your team successfully, whether it is a hybrid team or a remote team.
Here are 4 steps specifically designed to help you manage a remote team effectively.
1. Invest in Digital Technology Tools
It is no secret that effective collaboration is essential for the success of any business. And that is why most managers used to have a lot of face-to-face team meetings to collaborate effectively. But the widespread shift to remote work due to pandemic has made the logistics of team collaboration super challenging. Did you know that most employees believe that collaboration is one aspect of their work that has suffered the most while working from home?
According to Lucid Survey, 75% of remote employees who expressed concerns about working from home ranked team collaboration as the aspect of their work that suffered the most. Wondering what is the reason – well, the answer is simple – the current collaboration platforms are not meeting all their needs. According to the same survey – less than half (41%) of people said cloud collaboration platforms helped them and their remote teammates collaborate.
So, in this modern economy, businesses need to invest in digital solutions that allow employees to collaborate efficiently and effectively. One that lets you:
• Record and gather meeting data in one place – A huge benefit of conducting virtual meetings is the ability to record them. And that is why most video conferencing tools these days allow you to record meetings. But go a step further and use tools that allow you to collect this meeting data in one place too. So, your employees can easily find these meeting recordings and leverage this data.
• One that offers live transcriptions, where your conversation will be transcribed as you speak. One that is intelligent enough to identify speakers, so you know who said what while watching your meeting recordings, and one that allows your team members to collaborate over the transcripts.
• Highlight, Search, and Tag – Use tools that not only allow you to conduct remote meetings but let you increase productivity before, during, and after these meetings. One that allows you to highlight essential discussion points immediately. Let you search for anything from these meetings and tag action items so that you can easily follow up and get work done through these remote meetings.
• Capture topical information and the experiential factors: In in-person meetings, we get insight into our team members by their facial expressions and tone of voice. But when it comes to virtual meetings, we do not get this information. Use a tool that enables you to analyze voice tonality, facial cues, and behavioral nuances. So, you know your team’s interest and engagement levels across stand-ups, town hall meetings, and more.
2. Do not Just Communicate; Over Communicate
Clear communication is essential to get work done; it is at the heart of good business. Without clear and consistent communication, it will be tough for your teams to work effectively. Also, confusion and misalignment will increase. So, communication as a skill has become more critical for leaders today as many businesses are going hybrid.
Keeping home and office workers on the same page becomes essential for maintaining smooth operations. It helps ensure that all employees have equal access to the information and resources they need to succeed. While in this current scenario, uncertainty is unavoidable, you can at least take tentative steps to make it better. And that is where the art of over communicating comes in.
Over communication can help leaders reinforce important messages, and it can help employees retain critical information and ensure that everyone understands the message.
In other words, over communication helps prevent misunderstandings, keeps key information top of mind, and ensures everyone is on the same page.
3. Be Empathetic
The covid-19 pandemic has changed everyone’s lives – people are going through tough times. But that does not mean people are going through the same experience. You and your team are all having different experiences. And if you want to manage a remote team successfully, you need to listen to your team members and demonstrate that you hear them.
Do not just assume you know what is happening in your teammates’ personal lives. Listen to them – be interested. Why? Because while working remotely, people feel more isolated, separated, and disconnected. Though on the surface, people put on their best game face and their best attitude. Did you know that 2 out of 10 employees site loneliness as their biggest problem while working remotely?
Encourage them to share their current life situation by asking how they are feeling right now. And acknowledge their pain and feelings and ask if there is any way you can help. Also, you need to ask your team members if they have the tools they need to succeed. Do not just say you are empathetic – show your empathy by demonstrating understanding and care for your teammates.
4. Foster Transparency
If you want to avoid remote conflicts and want your remote team to work effectively, you need to build trust and foster a culture of transparency. Wondering how to build trust in these tough times? Well, to build trust, you need to share as much information as possible with your team. Be transparent – share the vital information available from the top down and across.
As a team leader, it is your responsibility to keep your team up to date by sharing the company’s priorities, how the company is doing, and how each person can contribute to the company’s success. You can share this information in weekly meetings, monthly updates on strategy, or town hall meetings and create a space to answer questions.
As a team leader, you need to remember transparency is not about fixing things; it is about developing trust by telling people openly what is going on. It is about investing time in boosting your team morale – it is about taking an interest in how each member is doing physically and emotionally and having the courage to share the good and the bad stuff.
To develop transparency across the team, you need to encourage each team member to share all the relevant information: about results or lack of results with each other.
Fitting It All Together
Most managers have been managing their team remotely for some time now. But it is high time you learn how to manage a remote team effectively.
Because working from home is a trend that is not going anywhere. In fact, it was already gaining traction pre-pandemic, but the pandemic has accelerated it. With numerous major companies like —Google and Facebook indicating that they will let their employees work remotely, perhaps indefinitely, this trend is here to stay.
So, as your teams continue to work remotely for months or possibly years, we hope this article can help you manage your remote team effectively.
If you are ready to try these steps for managing your remote team but realize you do not have the right tools, it is time to invest in the right tools. Decode provides an effortless way to collaborate with your remote team members by tagging them in the transcripts and highlights and providing insights into these conversations after they have ended – give it a try!
Find out how Decode can help you manage your remote team effectively. Get in touch today.
Other helpful resources for managing remote teams: