Running a business is hard. It becomes even more challenging when you’re running a remote team. Since you don’t get to be in the same place as your team members, you need to exert extra effort to determine whether they are on track to achieving your team goals and, by extension, your company goals.
Then there’s the issue of how to get them to work as a team and how to keep them happy, too.
The good news is, it’s not impossible to manage a group whose members are scattered across geographical locations. In this article, let’s look at some tips that can help you do just that.
1. Invest in Communication Tools
Communication becomes all the more important when you and your team members don’t report to a physical workplace. Communication is key to collaboration. In this case, you need to compensate for that lack of face-to-face communication.
Fortunately for you, there are communication tools you can invest in. Some are even tools you can avail of for free.
Email is still a great communication platform. According to Statista, there are 4.147 million email users in the world as of 2021. That number is likely to include your team members. Even if you don’t have an email just yet, it’s very easy to create one. Writing and sending emails is easy, too. In seconds, you can have that email sent to all your team members’ inboxes.
If you want more fluid conversations, though, you’d need to invest in tools such as Slack or Chanty. Those tools allow for real-time conversations. You can expect a reply in just a matter of seconds, assuming the recipient of the message sees your message as soon as you send it.
Invest in tools such as Skype if you want conversations that are as close as possible to face-to-face conversations. If you want to hold a seminar on email marketing best practices, for example, Zoom is your best bet.
There are many communication tools at your disposal. All you need to do is choose the ones that work the best for you and your team.
2. Make Company Policies Clear
Organization is key to business success. Company policies ensure that organization. When you have a clear code of conduct, you establish clear expectations. You protect your business from potential issues, too.
According to Pigeon Hole Live, your company policies should cover the following areas:
- Use of equipment and devices
- Work and accountability
I’d add your company policies should cover the aspect of communication, too. For example, will you allow your team members to show up in a T-shirt and shorts to a Zoom meeting? Or would you rather they wear something less casual? How soon should team members reply to an email during a workday? Are they allowed to send emails on Saturdays or Sundays?
The more specific and comprehensive your company policies are, the better.
It’s not enough, however, for you to just have those policies in place. You can’t just assume your team members, who are dispersed across locations, already know what your expectations are. Orient them on the company rules from the get-go. So when someone violates a rule, you’d be within your right to impose a sanction–after due process, of course.
3. Avoid Micromanaging
It can be tempting to check on your team every hour of every workday. That, however, in the long run, is counter-productive.
Just think about it.
If you’re asking how your team members are doing all the time, they’d have to spend time formulating their responses. That time should have been better spent working on, say, their web development projects at hand.
Besides, if you micromanage too frequently, you’re simply saying you don’t trust your team members to do the job. That results in disengagement on their part. According to GetHppy, disengaged employees have a 37% higher rate of absenteeism. A study on workplace management showed that in the US, disengaged employees cost businesses $450 to $550 billion a year!
When you show your remote team, you trust them to do the right thing on the job. Chances are, they will. You help them develop those decision-making skills, too.
That’s not to say you should no longer see how your team members are doing. By all means, do that but not to the point they end up becoming unproductive because of you. Asking them how they’re doing during your regular meetings is enough.
4. Streamline Your Processes
According to Fingerprint for Success, on average, remote workers work 1.4 days more every month than those who work in a physical office. Those are three additional weeks of work per year!
It’s no wonder then that many remote employees struggle with work-life balance, according to Business News Daily. When that balance no longer exists, those workers suffer burnout and end up disengaged. Worse, they end up leaving the company.
But what do all of these have anything to do with streamlining your processes? Simple. Since it’s in your best interest for your remote team members to achieve that work-life balance (you wouldn’t want them unhappy or resigning, would you?), you should find ways for them to achieve just that. Streamlining your processes is one of those ways.
When you remove unnecessary steps and improve the workflow, you make sure your remote team members don’t work beyond the hours they’re supposed to work every day.
Streamlining your business processes is not that hard. All you need to do is write down your team’s specific steps to get a task done. Once you have a visual representation of the process, it’s easier to determine which steps are redundant and should therefore be removed from the workflow.
5. Organize Fun Activities
Remote team members don’t just struggle to achieve work-life balance. Some struggle with loneliness, too. Loneliness ranks second among the things employees struggle with when working remotely:
Source: Serene App
That’s not so surprising. After all, employees who work remotely typically have no one else to talk to. Their emotional well-being is affected.
You need to seriously consider these facts when running your remote team. Remember, your business operations run smoothly because of them. If their emotional wellbeing suffers, your operations will suffer as well. Besides, that’s just the human thing to do. When someone needs help, we all have the moral responsibility to extend that helping hand.
But how exactly can you help? Simple. Organize fun activities for your team.
Here are some activities you can organize, according to Connecteam:
- Photo contests
- Movie nights
- Donut conversations
It’s not the fun activities per se that will make your remote team members forget those feelings of isolation. It’s the people they play those games with.
When remote employees see their colleagues have their backs even when they’re miles away, those feelings of isolation will just be a thing of the past.
Running a remote team is hard but not impossible.
In this article, I shared with you five tips to help you run your remote team. Invest in communication tools, make your company policies clear, and avoid micromanaging. Don’t forget to streamline your processes and organize fun activities, too.
The bottom line is, there are things you can do to help remote employees become productive. You can also use tools to get your team members “closer together” even when they’re apart.
Leverage those, and you won’t just see your remote team’s productivity levels increasing. You’ll have happy employees who’ll stay loyal to the company for years on end.