8 Best Practices For Managing Remote Teams
Remote or hybrid working has become the new normal. Here are some best practices for organizing, managing, and increasing the productivity of remote teams.
While many employees enjoy working from home (WFH), it can be a particularly tasking switch for traditional team managers. But remote work is here to stay, especially if you are a software product development company. The world has become a global village, and the flexibility to work from anywhere is becoming one of the most sought-after benefits a company can offer talents.
Remote work has also been on the rise since the pandemic. WFH job searches have gone up 460% after the pandemic, and 44% of Americans now work remotely 5 times a week compared to 17% before COVID 19.
Since WFH is a relatively new experience for many team managers, here are eight tips to get the best out of remote teams:
1. Create a Remote Work Policy
Maintaining a corporate culture is one of the biggest challenges in managing remote teams. As a remote team manager, don't assume that because people know what to do in the office, they understand what is expected of them remotely, too.
Part of creating a remote work policy is setting explicit conduct rules during meetings, remote work hours, and adhering to the virtual meeting timetable. For teams working in different time zones, rotate schedules to ensure the burden isn’t falling on a few employees.
2. Establish Goals and Expectations
The traditional work environment sometimes prioritizes activity over output. When people clock in, sit at their desks, and leave at the stipulated time, then they've done a full day's work. Every company has specific team goals, but to increase WFH productivity, you should set individual goals too.
Set clear targets on what should be accomplished over a period, create milestones with specific deadlines, and schedule periodic meetings to track progress. This complements a cooperative, results-driven remote team management approach and can provide structure to virtual meetings and check-ins.
3. Provide a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP)
Don’t just set goals without telling each member how you expect them to be accomplished. Provide a well-documented Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) with guidelines on where to find these documents. Some examples of SOP software include Method Grid, ProcedureFlow, Way We Do, and ProcessKit.
4. Designate Communication Channels
If you don’t already have one, choose the communication channels to use when communicating with the remote team. Besides email, a video-conference platform and an easy-to-use messaging tool are the primary communication channels. Clearly communicate the platforms you expect your team to use, so everyone is on the same page. It’s good practice to choose which channels are ideal for which types of communication.
Also, you shouldn’t always be the one “talking to” the team. Make room for individual inputs on the project. To improve teamwork, foster communication between employees.
5. Provide the Appropriate Tools and Technology
Remote working needs the right technology that streamlines team and individual activity, especially if you are managing a remote development team. Your stack needs documentation, project management, communication, HR, and possibly, time- tracking tools. Some groups even have music streaming apps to improve social interaction and mental health.
All these tools have their advantages. For example, a project management tool is a central hub where all team members can assess what stage a project is at.
While some teams allow employees to choose their preferred tools, project management, and communication channels are non-negotiable. If individuals choose certain tools, you’ll need to determine how they’ll be paid for, the security risks, and what features you want in them.
6. Celebrate Achievements
While treating every remote team member equally is essential, you should also try to reward strong performers and team members who uphold your company’s core values. Be deliberate when highlighting extraordinary performance in individual and team meetings. Provide frequent appreciation messages to individuals and teams even for small accomplishments as these create a sense of appreciation.
7. Conduct Regular Follow-Ups
Beyond tracking progress, check in on each individual to see how they’re faring besides work. 80% of employees would quit their current position for an alternative that focuses on their mental health.
WFH can take its toll on employees. 75% of employees have struggled to work due to anxiety from the pandemic and other recent world events. This is why remote managers need to exercise patience and empathy.
Some people may adjust to remote work better than others, so it’s vital to dedicate some time to ensure everyone is doing well, motivate, and encourage them to indulge in physical activity.
8. Schedule Team Bonding Exercises
COVID regulations have been relaxed in many places. Schedule periodic social interaction meetings if you have your remote team in the same city.
Another alternative is scheduling wellness activities, e.g., online group workouts with a virtual fitness challenge such as the daily steps, virtual games, group therapy and life coaching, and mental health workshops. These bonding activities will improve health and wellness, teamwork, and productivity.
While the transition from office-based work to WFH can be challenging for a remote team manager, these best practices can improve your team’s productivity and maintain the company culture.