While a lot many things went haywire in 2020, when it comes to workspaces things weren’t all bad. Unlike previous times when remote working was considered a privilege, the COVID-19 pandemic has definitely made remote working a normal (and pretty much the only way) to have an organization operating. But how does it look for a remote team in terms of productivity, alignment of thoughts, as well as meeting deadlines? With organizations adopting such work settings for the first time, it can get really confusing for the employees and the employer to keep things streamlined and coordinated. That’s exactly when you’d need efficient and transparent team management to save the day.
But before we jump straight into remote team management, it’s important to understand what a remote team is made of, and what the data reveals about remote team management.
What Is A Remote Team?
While literally, it can mean any team of professionals working from different locations/time zones, in the business world it can cover a lot of ground in terms of distinct time zones, skills, and degrees, as well as from different cultures or backgrounds working collectively on a single project. In other circumstances when an enterprise may or may not carry out some process of their work on remote, now project managers are finding themselves in uncharted waters when they have to manage complete teams and entire processes offline, without having any prior experience; especially when it’s crucial, comprehensive tasks like engineering products.
Nevertheless, even though managing remote teams may take more effort and thinking, it’s definitely worlds apart from managing an in-house team, under one roof. From allocating tasks, planning and setting schedules to collaborating on focus areas, constant updates, and QA – it covers all. What was previously done via quick standup meetings, or walking up to someone’s workstation, can only take place via Skype calls.
We know it may sound contradictory, but reports say that two-thirds of coworkers feel more connected via remote working. Businesswire, and many more esteemed platforms revealed 47% productivity growth among remote workers. CNBC also reports that one in every four American working class is more likely to continue working remotely for the following years. Long story short, remote working is here to stay.
There can be several challenges as far as remote team management goes, and some of them include:
● Miscommunication or Lack of Communication thereof
● Absence of the Right Resources
● Low Accountability
● Recording Work Timing
● Confusion about Roles and Priority Tasks
● Unclear work schedules
● Tracking Employee performance
● Irregular status updates within the team
Even though the above challenges can seem too much, you can easily manage the above with the help of technology and following a well-thought-out module. Here’s how:
1. Make A Communication Schedule With Overlapping Times
Communication is the key to development and therefore you’d need to establish an end-to-end call schedule with your team from different locations for getting rid of any sense of loneliness as well as keep up with the work status. For this, you’d need effective communication apps like Zoom or Skype for video/audio calls accessible across all countries. You can also choose to select instant messaging apps like Slack, Skype, Google Meet for the teams to collaborate as and when required. It’s always a good call to schedule meetings in advance for the teams to allocate time beforehand. For workers from different locations, you can also choose to have effective conversations with individual team members apart from the regular team calls to understand their work progress, as well as to build a strong bond with the employees.
2. Track Work Hours And Productivity Levels
Okay, it is one thing to work in an office setting with a no-distraction environment and another to work from home responsibly. While a lot of employees are inherently disciplined to stay focussed on the tasks at hand, avoiding all distractions; it might not be the case for all of your employees, especially when they’re not used to working remotely for longer periods of time. This is exactly when productivity dips, and tasks keep getting delayed. Therefore, you’d need effective time tracking tools like Time Doctor, Hubstaff, etc to have insights into their performance, activity, as well as work completion reports.
A lot of employees lack a reliable ‘clock in’ and ‘clock-out’ method, which creates a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding the progress or lacking in the employees’ performance reports. Tools like actiTIME, Clockify can be great options to have a better look at your employees’ workdays. You may also choose to view if the team employees are killing their work time on YouTube/Facebook, or other online platforms, in real-time.
3. Discover And Hire The Right Employees For Virtual Work
Unlike popular belief, there are a lot of things you need to consider before hiring resources for working remotely, and to begin with, one of them is to test them to work on a smaller project first and decide based on their performance. For employees who need resources, this can be a lifesaver; since it’d save you time and money. You can also look into their home environment before hiring them to understand their work systems and if they have the logistics required. Productivity can be a fickle friend for people working on temporary or on multiple smaller projects, since they’ll have divided attention, and can bail out when you need them the most. On the other hand, full-time employees are more reliable since they’re dependent on you for their livelihood and will stick for the longer term.
4. Provide Flexibility To Employees
It’s normal for your working from home employees to look out for work flexibility. We know it might strike odd since they’re already operating from their homes, but having flexibility at work may help in magnifying their work performance. Of course, to some degree flexibility in work, can help you streamline processes, and share updates each step of the way for them to collaborate and fix any bottlenecks or issues more time-efficiently.
5. Encourage A Positive, Helping Team Environment
Even if it may appear small on the surface, the struggle to meet the needs of an employee, especially in an out-of-sight work setting can be stressful. They need to be felt contributing towards a common goal, as well as valuable. You can make them feel welcome by reaching out to them and identifying if there’s any work-related issue that’s bothering them and giving them a helping hand. Many times your teammates may feel left out in knowing about the company’s goals as well as recognize how they fit in the bigger picture; causing them to have less work motivation. This is when you get them involved, and add them into the loop of relevant work calls/discussions about the company’s progress and success. Even a small step goes a long way.
Empathy is the foundation of having your remote teamwork efficiently as well as deliver satisfying results; especially in such confusing times. As a remote team manager, before jumping to conclusions it’s better to double-check on everything and share inputs for better understanding and faster turnarounds.
If you think you have the hang of managing a remote team and you’re ready to hire, we recommend checking out the following places-
1. Upwork– Getting freelancers is always one of the go-to options for having an offshore team. Of course this means the management of the team will be up to you.
2. CodeClouds – Going with a reputable offshore development company like CodeClouds is another option, allowing you to hire a team instead of a loose collection of remote individuals, meaning you have less to manage. CodeClouds is primarily located in India, but has offices around the globe including the US, meaning communication should be much easier than most offshore companies.
3. Tintash – Another option for a remote development firm offshore, Tintash is located in pakistan and also specializes in providing whole development teams as one package. Although they are only located in Pakistan, they’re one of the top rated development services in the country.