Remote Work – 5 Tips on How to Successfully Manage a Long-Distance Team

August 2, 2019

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Remote work is no longer a privilege. For a few decades now, the possibility to work from outside of a corporate office has been a feasible option for a smaller number of employees. However, nowadays this ability is becoming a fast-growing trend among organizations of all sizes. Remote work allows professionals to step outside their traditional office environment and this concept is proving that work does not need to be done in a specific place to be done successfully. Instead of commuting each day to work, remote employees can execute their projects and surpass their goals wherever they choose to do it from.

What are the numbers showing?

Global Workplace Analytics results say that the remote workforce has increased by 140% since 2005. And a 2018 “Business Communications Technology” report predicts that by 2025 remote working will rival fixed office locations.

More than 50% of people worldwide who telecommute part-time said they wanted to increase their remote hours, and 60% of them said that if they could, they would leave their current job for a full-time remote position at the same pay rate.

REMOTE WORK BENEFITS

First of all, remote work increases a worker’s productivity. Research conducted by Stanford found that remote working employees elevated their performance by 13%. Next thing in line for improvement was their efficiency, which grows significantly when working from outside the office. Remote work is important for lowering stress and boosting morale, as well. In a FlexJobs survey, 79% employees said they’d be more loyal and committed to their work if it offered more flexibility and 32% said they would leave a job just because of the flexibility lack. A remote working concept often leads to greater employee engagement.

Not to mention how positively this trend impacts the environment! Studies show that companies with the implemented telecommuting helped reduce their carbon footprint. In 2013, U.S. annual fuel consumption decreased by 680 million gallons, about 0.5% of the nation’s gas consumption, one study found!

This “going flexible” initiative easily meets the demands of younger workers. So, no wonder hiring managers expect more full-time staff to work remotely over the next 10 years.

VIRTUAL TEAMS

The rise of digital entrepreneurs at the same time provoked the rise of the need to have virtual teams. However, finding reliable remote employees and managing them comes with a whole new set of issues. What is the best and most effective way to control a workflow? How can a manager be sure they understood their responsibilities correctly? How do you motivate an employee you never (or almost never) see at the office? How can you achieve quality communication?

Virtual team management gives employers a chance to build a dream team without any boundaries, while at the same time it offers the freedom and flexibility for employees to obtain a healthy work-life balance.

If you’re trying to achieve that, these tips can help:

remote work tips

  1. Encourage transparency in every step of the way

You should know that when you lead a team, you should lead by example. Encourage project discussions where team members can share their opinion and get involved in all aspects of the work. Always remind them of the company’s vision and objectives and make sure you set a clear expectation of every team member.

Make the best out of every possible source of communication so you can stay informed and focused on progress. Hold on to virtual meetings in a regular and routine way, encourage task, stage and project’s discussions. Make sure that the entire team is on the same page when it comes to informing each other about both progress and possible obstacles that might appear along the way.

  1. Organize your work and your team

If you want your team to function, you must set a proper workflow structure and stick to it. No one said it’s easy to manage a group of people across the globe and the only way to do it correctly is to create procedures and implement project management systems, set rules and share them with everyone on the team.

This is done by organizing and categorizing data – for example, storing and making available every piece of document or info related to a project.

Next thing is coordinating communication between team members. Decide on the communication style for each situation. Also, make rules on when they can use chat and in what situations. Set regular virtual meetings – depending on a project, let them be daily or weekly.

  1. Make deadlines for every single task

You know for yourself how there are always some employees who invest themselves fully while others only work just enough not to get fired. A remote team is especially prone to this weakness. This is why it’s very important to set strict deadlines for every single task and even subtask. Make some regular reminders as well. When a team member has let’s call it ownership of their own tasks and you are able to see the progress they’ve made at every step of the way, their attitude is likely to change towards completing that task on time.

  1. Create a team that works well together

Make sure you recruit the right fit for your project. People are the most valuable element of any business and you need to keep in mind that remote work is not for everyone. The best thing is to create a team made by experienced remote workers, who already know how things are done. Do it by matching their skills and experience to the demands of any work or project. Your team members should be self-motivated, driven and dedicated to their work.

Once you have found perfect candidates, it’s your turn.

Even though they are not physically present, take them through your onboarding process. Hold an orientation, set job expectations, prepare the work environment, and introduce team members, even if it is only virtually. The early beginning is the best time to explain to employee’s responsibilities and set job expectations.

  1. Create and nurture a strong company culture

Last but not least, keep in mind that even if your team members are on independent locations, that is not stopping you from building a strong and powerful company culture. You need this element if you want your team members to work towards the same goals, respect each other’s time and value everyone’s skills and talents.

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