Managing Remote Teams – Best Practices
It is difficult enough getting everyone on the same page when you have onsite employees, so how do you manage when all your workers are based in other parts of the country or even other parts of the world? Managing remote teams is a skill that many entrepreneurs and business owners need to accomplish as we move further and further into an online and digital world to operate our businesses.
It makes total sense to have remote workers whether they freelance or are employed by you. It cuts out unnecessary office costs and means you can get the best person for the job, not the best one who lives close enough!
While managing remote teams is not necessarily the most natural thing in the world, it is not as difficult as you might think. You just need to focus some of your energies on team building and collaboration exercises. We will take a look at four methods or best practices below. If you can integrate them into your business, you will find that your working relationships are given a boost.
You are not working in the same place, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t see each other every now and again. Set aside time each week for a video conference between you and all your employees and freelancers where possible. If you have employees and freelancers, make sure you give the freelancers the opportunity to join in on team meetings. Obviously you cannot make them, unless you are prepared to pay them for their time but the more involved they feel with the business the more you will get out of them.
Things can easily get lost in long email threads, and in any case, words on a page don’t foster working relationships all that well. We have all read an email and thought… cheek or worse! But the writer may not have meant for you to read it in that tone of voice. When reading, we imagine and we are not all that great at writing thoughtfully, especially when we are busy.
By talking over video, you will be better able to get your message across, and so will your employees too. If you have video conferences, then your employees will also be able to get to know one another. It is totally possible that they have never seen or spoken to each other before!
Face To Face
Unless it’s a highly unrealistic idea (say, you’re in the States and your workers are in Australia), then it’s worthwhile hosting an annual face to face get together. Pre-Christmas is an ideal time if they are not too far away, but if they are, pick a time when people have fewer things going on in their life. When it comes to building a team, there are few things better than a few drinks and delicious food. Getting to know each other personally is an underrated aspect that many businesses overlook, but it really does make work more enjoyable – and productive, too.
If possible training days are also useful to get everyone on the same page but do not scrimp on the lunch and breaks as this is where relationships between your employees or freelancers will be fostered.
If you work in a traditional office and have a question, then you can simply walk over to your colleague and ask them. Though we have gotten quite lazy and many will still email ! When you are a thousand miles away from your nearest colleague, Yeah, it gets a bit more difficult. So make sure you have the right digital tools. With Sharepoint, for example, your workers will be able to collaborate effortlessly, as all the work will be hosted within one platform. If you don’t yet have it integrated into your business, then work with a SharePoint Consulting company, and see how it can boost your business. If working together is a breeze, it will be like everyone’s working in the same office.
There are many other platforms that allow for this integrated working. Google themselves have a whole host of tools that any kind of business can use.
Hearing Their Feedback
You are not a dictator, you’re a leader! As such, it is important that you take time to hear your worker’s concerns, suggestions, and ideas for improving teamwork or anything else for that matter. Being the boss is not about being bossy, of course you want the work done but trust me the best bosses are those that create open communication.
You might have an overview of everything, but they are likely only getting one small snapshot of your whole operation. Speak to them, and encourage them to voice their opinion. They might just say something that makes you change your approach to management. Always listen, adapt, and review your progress as things move forward with your business.
If you are a new entrepreneur or business owner and have no management experience it can be really tough to get everything right and have your business succeed. Consider investing in your self, read management related books or enroll on an online course. Management is not easy, sometimes it’s like running a nursery school for four year olds and if you don’t have the right personal skills to handle these challenges then you will quickly come unstuck.
Managing remote teams is even harder but if you follow my best practices above you will not go far wrong.
I hope you have found this post useful and helped you to think carefully about managing your remote teams. If you have then please give it a share on your favourite social media platform.
As ever if you have any questions or want to share your own thoughts, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
With Grace and Gratitude
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