Seven Tips For Successfully Managing Remote Teams

Working remotely is no longer a trend—it has become a necessity in the world today. As a result, leaders and managers in all industries are finding themselves tasked with managing a fully remote team. This can be a daunting undertaking, especially if you have never managed remote workers and you didn't have much time to prepare.

If you're feeling stressed about how to oversee a team you don't see in person, keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today. Jason Aten, a columnist and marketing editor, says you can ease the transition and set your team up for success by following a few helpful tips.

1. Have a daily check-in. Whenever possible, Aten says this should be one-on-one and face-to-face via video. Phone conversations, email and Slack go only so far. Your team needs to see you, and you need to see them. The good news is that services like Zoom or Google's Team Hangouts make this relatively easy. At first, this should be every day. The purpose is simple—set the agenda and provide the feedback and resources your team members need.

2. Communicate frequently. When you work remotely, you should be in regular communication with your team. Aten says one of the hardest things about working from home, especially if you're used to an office environment, is the sense of loneliness and isolation that can set in. That's especially true considering social distancing requirements.

3. Take advantage of technology. As a manager, your job is to keep your team connected. Communication tools are a simple way to keep everyone engaged. While email and text messages might be a short-term solution, tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams are far better suited for collaboration and communication. Aten points out that some of those collaboration tools are even available for free right now.

4. Manage expectations. Help your team figure out what they should do and create realistic expectations for their work. Clearly state both the tasks and the reasons behind them, and help your team understand exactly how you will measure success. Be sure you clearly define the scope, deadlines and deliverables for each task or project your team is working on. Otherwise, don't be surprised if a few weeks from now you find yourself wondering what everyone was doing.

5. Focus on outcomes, not activity. You can't manage every aspect of the work done by a remote team. Instead of focusing on activity or hours worked, focus on the outcomes and measure your team accordingly.

6. Resource your team. Make sure your team has the technology it needs to get the work done. If you suddenly have a team of remote workers, that means there's a good chance they need tools like laptops, software, mobile devices or even a high-speed internet connection. It's not reasonable to assume that everyone has all of those things, and it's your responsibility as a manager to make sure they do.

7. Be flexible. Aten encourages leaders to stay mindful about the current environment. Your team has a lot going on. Punching a clock for eight hours is out. Regular work hours are also probably out for many people. Instead, trust your team and give them the freedom and flexibility to get work done on the schedule that helps them be the most productive. That's good for your team in the long run anyway.

No matter how many team members you oversee, you can manage them effectively from a distance by considering the points above. Strive to communicate often, find out how you can help your employees and stay flexible in these changing times.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Jason Aten is a tech columnist for Inc.com and the sales and marketing editor at Fit Small Business. He writes often about big-tech companies, cybersecurity and data privacy.

filed under March 2020
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