8 strategies for managing a remote team

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Not all remote teams are the same and therefore your strategies for managing one team may not work with another. Despite the differences, there are some of the basic guidelines that you can follow to effectively tackle the challenges of managing any kind of remote team.

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1/Maintain effective communication

When your entire team is working remotely, keeping up with them via effective communication is one of the biggest challenges that you’ll face. Since this aspect heavily influences the success of your remote team, it’s absolutely important to get it right. Effective communication is also crucial to keep your remote team members motivated. Many companies have already taken some tough steps to tackle the financial difficulties triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, it’s quite natural for your remote team members to become worried about what’s going on in the minds of the management team. You can help them steer clear of this stress by continuing with clear communication.

At Liquid Technology, we have built our entire collaboration platform around Google Workspace and the amazing tools they have from chat, video and the full suite of products. The two key Google products we use to communicate are:
  • Google Meet for secure video conferencing. Meet doesn't require any software to be downloaded and is encrypted in transit making it the best option for diverse teams anywhere in the world.
  • Google Chat makes our 1:1 chatting and group collaboration easier in 'Rooms'. Chat helps you securely connect with the people you work with and take group work to the next level with shared chats, files, and tasks.

When using these or any other tool to communicate with your remote team members, be sure to maintain the normal pace of conversations. It’s also important not to leave anything to chance when communicating remotely. So, make sure that you always provide adequate details to rule out the possibilities of any misinterpretation.

2/ Conduct regular meetings

When it comes to ensuring everybody in your remote team is staying on the same page, regular virtual meetings play a crucial role. Try to decide on a set time, whether weekly or daily, that’s convenient for every team member, and ask everyone to be present during those meetings. You can also ask your team members to come prepared to discuss what they are currently doing, what they’ll be doing next, and if they are experiencing any issues that might be hindering their productivity.

Always try to conduct the meeting with cameras turned on so you can try to pick up social cues such as facial expressions, body language, and vocal tonality that are inevitable parts of face-to-face interactions. It’s not only make things more personal but typically make participants more willing to pay attention. However, it’s important to understand that regular meetings aren’t mandatory for all remote teams. If you happen to manage such a team, scheduling meetings only when there is an important subject to discuss would be a prudent idea.

3/ Use time blocking

In a remote work environment, it is quite easy for you and your team members to get distracted and feel burdened by the increasing length of their to-do lists. With the help of time blocking, you can distribute the working time into controlled units. By assigning specific amounts of time to certain tasks, you’ll be able to deliver your responsibilities without deviations or interruptions. When a particular amount of time is dedicated to a specific task, it essentially locks a person’s focus while helping him/her stay on track. The success of this time management method lies in creating small yet appropriate time blocks. Initially, you or your team members may find it restrictive to plan an entire day according to a strict time calendar. But ultimately, it’d help in effectively managing the effort everybody puts in, thus boosting productivity.

4/ Organise the workflow

Similar to what you’d do in an office environment, you need to focus on streamlining the workflow when managing a remote team. The use of a project management system would help you to keep everything in a project documented. It will let you organise the workflow and standardise your team members’ output through transparent systems.

For day-to-day business, using document collaboration tools such as our Google Drive and Workspace tools is an easy yet highly effective idea to keep track of your team members’ work. For software development specific projects, Atlassian's JIRA is our preferred tool because it's tool enable you to integrate Google Workspace and also review and promote code.

5/ Be supportive and patient

There are lots of people who haven’t been able to cope up with the transition to the remote work environment, including many managers. Therefore, it isn’t uncommon to see one of your team members facing difficulties in adjusting to the new work culture. In that case, having one-to-one sessions and acknowledging the individual limits of your team members would be a prudent decision to help them overcome the constraints. It’s also extremely important to set realistic expectations according to the ability of your team members. You can always directly ask for feedback from someone who might feel uncomfortable in discussing things in a group meeting. It could also help the person to relieve anxieties while letting you develop a constructive relationship. Finally, try to have verbal communication instead of written communication which sometimes becomes hard to interpret.

6/ Maintain a healthy work culture

In an office environment, spontaneous interactions occur on a daily basis – be it during a coffee break or when the team goes out for a lunch. You should try to promote casual interactions among your team members to develop a healthy culture. The key objective here is doing something together and something that everyone gets involved into. The success of this strategy lies in creating a supportive setting and finding out something that everybody would like to join in. You can also use communication tools to make this happen. For instance, if you are using Google Chat, you can have dedicated channels for non-work events to help the team members interact and relax. Planning virtual group workouts could also prove to be an effective idea.

7/ Focus on improving cybersecurity

With millions of people switching to remote work environments and many of them using insecure IT infrastructure, cyber attacks have essentially become one of the major concerns for a lot of companies. In order to protect sensitive information of both your company and its employees, an appropriate security policy has to be in place. All your remote team members should receive clear instructions on how to conduct safe communication and on the best practices to follow when sharing files with each other. Enabling multi-factor authentication on all corporate systems would be a good idea to increase security. Also, ask your IT team to assign system access based on job roles and responsibilities to eliminate the risks of data leaks. Finally, review your company’s existing security policy and revise it, if need be.

8/ Don't neglect professional development

Having your team members working remotely may make you feel that professional growth isn’t important anymore. But you should understand that it’s equally important for both a traditional office environment and a remote work setting. You can have some outstanding performers as your team members but without offering them any scope of professional development, you may not be able to retain them in the long-term. At Liquid Technology, we organise online workshops or cover the costs of online courses that might help your team members to grow professionally. We also provide a number of 'Liquid' days a year to allow people to study or work on professional development projects.

Final thoughts...

Being able to manage a remote team effectively has probably become the most important skill over the last few years and a skill that every team lead and manager needs to develop. While this isn’t something that can be mastered overnight, with the help of the above-mentioned strategies, you’ll surely find it easier to manage your remote team effectively while helping the team members become more collaborative and productive.

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