Managing teams is not always easy. Even when it is about a project, where everyone has the same goal, it is necessary to deal with very different ways of thinking – after all, people have very diverse personalities. But when it is about managing remote teams, the task could be a little trickier, since it can be harder to communicate, engage coworkers and even understand cultural differences - the same team can have people working from home in Toronto, from a coffee shop in Japan or from a co-working space in Miami, for example.
But the same technology that allows virtual work is able to provide solutions to better manage remote teams – although it is not only about tech. Let’s check some tips:
1. Use the right tools for remote work
If you are running a remote team, you will need to find ways to communicate and manage them just like as you would do in a local-based company. It is necessary to have tools for everyday conversations, video conferencing, project management and document repository, at least. Some of the best tools for remote teams are:
- Slack, for communication
- Zoom, for video conferences
- Trello, for project management
- Google Drive, for document sharing and collaboration
2. Define working hours
You can choose to opt for fixed working hours, like from 9 am to 5 pm or leave it flexible so every professional from your team can chose how to distribute them along the day. That’s fine. But remember to respect the working hours – just because someone is at home doesn’t mean that he or she should be always ready to work. Try not so send them messages after hours, at night or even too early in the morning. And if you do, let them know that it is ok not to have an immediate response because you recognize they are in their resting time.
3. Be human
Managing remote teams is not only about technology; when talking to the team, it is a good idea to behave the same way you would if the conversation where not virtual. Before asking about the work, projects and deadlines, say hi and ask how they are doing – that’s the way you would do if you were standing in front of them, right? It would also be a good idea to have periodic face-to-face conversations (via video conference) with every person on your team so you can get to know them better.
4. Trust your team
In local-based companies, you can actually see the employees working – they are sitting in their workspaces, typing, thinking and probably drinking coffee. In a remote team, you have to believe that they are doing that at their locations. Some remote work guidelines can improve trust among virtual teams, such as centering all communications in one place, having a working hours report and setting that e-mails should be replied within 24 hours.
With the right tools, trust and communication, managing a remote team can be fun. Just create a nice and healthy virtual environment and you can get an engaged and productive team.