More people work from home than ever before. According to Gallup, 45% of Americans now work remotely at least part of the time.
This new trend has brought many benefits, including less commuting, increased productivity, and more schedule flexibility.
But it’s also brought on some challenges like fewer face-to-face interactions, less socializing, and more distractions at home.
As a manager, you may wonder how to manage your remote team most effectively. After all, this is new territory for many.
So whether you have a fully remote or hybrid team, here are some tips to help your team thrive in 2024:
1. Set clear expectations
There’s nothing more frustrating than unclear expectations. You want your entire remote team to be on the same page about deadlines, meetings, work hours, and so on.
So set clear expectations on outcomes, rules of engagement, communication frequency, and more. This helps team members understand what’s expected of them so they can feel more confident going about their work.
2. Communicate often
Communicating online can be hard. There are fewer opportunities for spontaneous conversations than there are in a physical office. So make sure to communicate to your remote team often.
To do this, take advantage of communication software tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom. You can learn more about video conferencing technology from ConvergedTechGroup.com.
Make sure to have daily check-ins, weekly one-on-ones, and quarterly reviews. This helps build trust and strengthens bonds between team members.
And remember, it’s better to overcommunicate than to risk being misunderstood. And try to get important communications in writing. That way, you have it to refer back to later.
3. Respect time zone differences
Remote teams are often spread across different time zones. This makes finding times to meet online that are good for everyone tricky. For example, you don’t want to schedule a meeting when it’s daytime for some but nighttime for others.
So be mindful of everyone’s time zones. You can also use an app like Calendly to avoid scheduling conflicts. Whatever you do, let team members work asynchronously as much as possible so they can work when it’s best for them.
4. Be culturally sensitive
In addition to different time zones, you may have team members from different cultures. In this case, it’s important to learn about their different customs and habits.
For example, some workers may have different ideas about what it means to be punctual. Or they may have different communication habits. So embrace your team members’ diverse backgrounds and be sensitive to their needs.
5. Establish standard systems and processes
A successful remote team has standard systems and processes. This adds a sense of predictability and allows managers to take a hands-off approach while each team member manages themselves. After all, micromanaging is one of the worst things a manager could do.
To create standard protocols, use project management software like Monday or Asana. They’ll help you put systems in place in no time
6. Train your team
Working remotely comes with a learning curve. Sure, some of your team may be used to working from home, but not everyone is.
So be sure to train your team on important skills, systems, and processes. This is crucial during the onboarding phase, but it’s also important to do at regular intervals throughout an employee’s career. It keeps them up to date, increases productivity, and encourages lifetime learning.
7. Prepare for technical issues
Technical issues happen. And since remote work relies on so much technology, the chances are even greater that something will go wrong at some point.
To minimize the impact of a technical issue, have a remote IT team you can call. And for hardware issues, identify service providers near each of your team members, so that they can be sent out to fix the issue. Ultimately, you want to be prepared for the worst so nobody’s work is slowed down.
8. Invest in your team
Remote teams allow companies to spend less on office space, internet, electricity, and more. Use some of the cost savings to invest in your team.
For example, you could pay for motorized standing desks, ergonomic chairs, and other home office equipment for team members. Or you could provide a stipend for them to pay for a local remote-friendly coworking space. Reinvesting cost savings from remote work back into your team will help boost productivity.
9. Watch for signs of distress
COVID-19 has taken a major toll on mental health. In fact, since the pandemic began, global anxiety and depression levels have increased by 25%. Part of the problem is that people are a lot more isolated.
If you sense one of your team members may be struggling, ask to talk to them on a private one-on-one call. See what’s going on.
It can be hard to recognize mental health issues when you only ever see your team over a screen. So be extra sensitive and alert. If there’s a serious problem, recommend that the person see a professional. Nobody should have to suffer silently.
10. Facilitate team bonding
Lastly, it’s harder to bond as a remote team. So make sure you facilitate socializing opportunities where you can.
For example, you could dedicate a “water cooler” messaging channel on Slack to exclusively non-work topics. Or you could host occasional online events, like a social hour, a recognition session, or even an online game.
Though online socializing events might seem a little forced at first, they’ll help your team get to know each other in a more casual context, which will improve teamwork overall.
Adding it all up
Remote work is the future. So it’s important to get a handle on how you manage remote teams now rather than later. Take advantage of the latest technology and ask for your team’s feedback. They can tell you what’s working and what isn’t.
Ultimately, if you implement all of the tips above, you’ll be off to a good start and your team will thank you!