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9 Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

Managing remote teams can be challenging. But it shouldn’t have to be. By talking to experts of various industries who have already built successful remote work cultures, we’ve put together a thorough list of 9 best practices for managing remote teams.

If you want more productivity from your team, more efficiency, more retention, more engagement, and more satisfaction levels — then keep on reading. The 9 tips ahead are practical, which you can implement right now, and expect to see some results.

So let’s get into it…shall we?

Here are 9 best practices for managing remote teams according to experts:

Communicate More Frequently

Remote work is different from in-office gathering — shocker, right? Lack of communication, even in the office sitting can disengage employees, leading to productivity losses and employee turnover. But when it comes to remote teams – communication becomes even more critical.

You see, when you’re in the office sitting, the teams get to greet each other, talk about daily tasks and responsibilities, and become a little social on water coolers. But when teams are fully remote, you need to over communicate to keep every employee engaged, focused, and dedicated to work. Because no socialization like the real world is happening between them.

Therefore, you should communicate about daily tasks, remind them of monthly goals, update current outcomes, or even share a meme or two in the communication channel. That will keep them engaged with your company — rather than making them feel isolated, working from nowhere, completely disregarding that they’re a ‘joint’ team like a tree.

Hire Only Remote Work Enthusiasts

Even though the remote work craze is on trend, and the majority of the employees are passionate about working remotely, there are still professionals who prefer in-office sitting for a focused and productive environment. Which is why, when you’re onboarding new talent, interview thoroughly, and analyze whether they will be fit for remote work.

When it comes to remote work, most of the time, you won’t be baby-sitting your team. They’ve to work on their own autonomously. Therefore, only onboard candidates that are self-driven, self-motivated, self-disciplined, self-starters, and can figure out most of the stuff on their own.”

For example, millions of freelancers on places like LinkedIn, Upwork, or Fiverr are completing their jobs with a 100% success rate on their own. Majority of them are working from home, solo, all on their own. Hire candidates from places like these who are already experienced in remote working environments.

Set Clear Expectations

You’ve to set clear expectations with your remote teams to avoid workplace misconduct, keep the productivity up, and reach your goals. Build a solid work-from-home policy and share with every new (or existing) employee.

In your remote work policy, clearly describe the number of hours you’re expecting, the break times you’re offering, the productivity you’re expecting, and how you would like them to act under certain situations. (i.e whom to contact immediately if they need a resource or new digital tool).

Building this policy is super-critical to keep everyone on the same page.

For example, if you hire a new freelance (or full time) copywriter, send them a detailed PDF explaining the number of hours they’re required to work, the salary you’ll provide, the number of content pieces you’re expecting from them every month, and the compensation for extra hours.

Focus More On The Output Rather Than the Activities

Majority of the time, remote work is autonomous. Even though you can have certain software to see whether employees are logged-in in the duty hours, you really can’t watch them working. This distinction is critical to understand, especially if you’re shifting from in-office sitting to a fully remote team.

Assign projects, and let them have control of working hours. Remote work is about giving employees the freedom to work autonomously. If they’re completing the assigned projects in-time, and reaching goals, then there’s nothing to worry about.

Plus, you can’t micromanage, on an individual level, asking each employee the progress and update. Let that go. All you need to do is to offer them resources, tools, plans, training, and guidelines so they can execute strategies to complete projects on-time. And that’s it.

Do Individual Weekly or Bi-Weekly Check-ins

Well, this might sound counterintuitive to the previous point, but to keep your team engaged, it’s better to do individual weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly check-ins.

Ask individual team members if they’re satisfied with the company culture, if they’ve any obstacles they need help with, or if they’re overworking. Not only just check in to inquire about the progress, but also give them feedback, and appreciate the efforts they’re putting in. It makes them feel special and involved – which is much needed in remote work sitting.

Doing that individual check-in is a good thing because it instills the little ‘care’ factor.

Focus on Mentoring Rather Than “Managing”

The secret to managing remote teams is actually not trying to ‘manage’. Rather, it’s about providing resources and support, mentoring, guiding, and helping them achieve company goals. It’s critical to understand this because as much as remote work can be flexible to employees, it’s also isolating — which can disengage and disorientate teams. As a team leader, you don’t want that to happen.”

That makes so much sense because the idea of “managing” usually boils down to having strict policies. But that contradicts with remote working. Because employees choose remote work mainly because of freedom and flexibility in their lives. That’s the dream. As a remote team leader, if you deprive your team from these luxuries that remote setting brings, then you should rethink your policies.

Remove Common Challenges

While it’s true that in each company and each team, challenges can be unique. But remote work in itself has some obstacles, that if you remove them, you already make half of your game strong.

For instance, common remote work challenges for remote employees can be; working with different time zones, not having the latest required workstations, distraction at home, being lonely, not being able to communicate properly, and more.

We asked Edward Mellet, Director at WikiJob, about these common remote work issues of employees. He said, “If you, first and foremost, work to remove these common obstacles, congratulations…because you’ve done most of the heavy lifting. What’s left is a tiny proportion of unique problems, depending upon individual teams.”

Set an In-Person Yearly or Bi-Yearly Trip

Tom Hamilton-Stubber, and Managing Director of TutorCruncher says, “You should understand that technology can never replace the real world. You can have the most advanced AI and AR remote work environment, but you still cannot replicate those real life social gatherings at water coolers. Yearly or bi-yearly in-person team building and culture building events are a must.”

Plan trips yearly or bi-yearly on beautiful locations where teams from all your departments can hang out and get social in the real world. That’s when you truly build a joint company culture that makes employees emotionally invested in your vision and mission.

Plus, it’s also great for attracting talented employees; offer them these trips as one of your perks, and get them excited to join your company.

Remote Work is for Flexibility – Keep that Up

Leo Ye, Co-Founder and CEO of CUBO says,  “One of the crucial factors employers often forget is that employees choose remote work to have the freedom and flexibility. They’re sick of abiding by strict 9-5 jobs daily. They want non-traditional work hours, control over their lives, and autonomously-operating workspace. If you ignore these boundaries, they will simply quit.”

What he’s saying can’t be farther from the truth…because data shows employees choose remote work for flexibility. If you can’t keep that flexibility up by giving them a sense of control over their tasks and lives, then they will likely switch.

Conclusion: Follow These Best Practices for Remote Work Success

Hopefully, you’re now equipped with enough practical tips and confidence to effectively manage your remote teams. By interviewing experts, at the core, what we’ve figured out is this: offer freedom, flexibility, and a sense of control to your remote teams. Employees actually feel that it is empowering, motivating them to work harder. But don’t let your strings loose. Have a solid remote-work policy that sets clear expectations upfront, communicates your company’s values, and builds rapport. With that said, we wish you all the best. Comment below, if you’ve any questions. We’ll be happy to answer.