Here at DAE & Company, we’ve been managing a remote team from day one. And despite the fact that our team members hail from cities all across the continent and operate in four different time zones, we’ve been able to successfully run a thriving creative agency. That said, we thought we’d share a few tricks of the trade for those of you considering (or struggling to currently manage) a remote team.
Tip 1. Communicate company goals and each team member’s role in the big picture
It’s critical that your remote workers understand both how they contribute on a project by project basis and how they contribute to the company’s big picture goals. Taking the time to ensure your team members have this understanding can go a long way toward helping them feel connected to the organization in a meaningful way, which will result in greater loyalty and higher quality of work overall.
Tip 2. Make sure remote team members are included in regularly scheduled meetings
When you’re working as a remote team, there are really no opportunities for casual run-ins and interactions. That means managers need to provide regular opportunities for such exchanges among the team members. While email and Slack interactions are great, video meetings are essential to maintaining more spontaneous and natural connectivity and are critical for avoiding miscommunication.
Tip 3. Treat your remote team members just as you do employees
When it comes to cohesiveness, the small stuff matters more than you can imagine. Things like acknowledging birthdays with a gift or a group conference call rendition of the happy birthday song can help your remote workers feel like valued and appreciated members of the greater team, which, in turn, helps build cohesiveness and greater efficiency in everyday interactions.
Tip 4. Make sure expectations and policies are communicated
In-house employees typically know there are unstated standards for things like unofficial department hours of operation, but a remote employee, for example, isn’t able to observe when folks roll in and roll out at the end of the day. Knowledge of such unofficial standards can make a big difference in efficiency and connectedness. So take note of and make sure your remote employees are made aware of any such standards. Doing so will not only help with workflow but will also help avoid conflicts and miscommunication among team members.
Tip 5. Provide forums for community building
Providing forums for community building is especially important when you have team members operating in various time zones who are also working on various projects. Tools like Slack channels and Google Hangouts are great ways to provide connectedness. Slack, in particular, allows you to create specific channels where workers can interact based on some shared function such as project or even interest. Allowing your remote team members to interact casually on these channels helps build the connectedness and camaraderie of “real world” communities while also aiding in workflow efficiency and productivity.
Tip 6. Be transparent and inclusive
When a team rarely meets in person and typically works in isolation, building trust among its members can be a challenge. That’s where the team leader’s transparency about things like changes to personnel, team strategy, and performance evaluations becomes imperative. Whether formal or informal, communication about such developments is critical. Along the same lines, you should expect your team members to offer the same transparency and engagement with you. Feedback from both sides is critical to your remote team’s success.
Tip 7. Use the right technology
Just as it is with any team, project management is an essential function for remote team leadership. Tools such as Trello, Asana, and Basecamp are ideal for remote team collaboration and deadline management. Use them! Also, be sure to provide real-time communication applications such as the aforementioned Google Hangouts or Slack to facilitate efficient real-time communication.
Utilizing remote workers can be an awesome way to combine talent from various regions affordably and efficiently—if you do it right. To really harness the power of your remote team, be sure to adopt the tools, practices, and effective management that will set your remote workers up for success.