7 Tips on Managing Remote Teams for Small Businesses
The current pandemic has left many business owners scrambling over how to keep their businesses going and their employees safe. One strategy proving to be a solution during this crisis is remote teams.
Read MoreBut managing remote teams is a little scary, especially if it's a new concept for your business. Whether you've hired a brand-new remote team or your current employees are working from home, there's a lot to consider.
Take a look at these seven tips for preparing your remote team for success.
1. Make Communication a Priority
Managing remote workers can be tough. You're not there to oversee the details, and the communication dynamic isn't the same. But that doesn't mean you can't still collaborate and communicate with your team on a daily basis.
Videoconferencing is one way you can meet as a group on a regular basis. Encourage team members to speak up and address any issues they have.
As the manager of a remote team, you want to put in the effort to stay engaged and connected. Whether it's through Zoom, Slack, or other mobile apps, you can stay in touch every day.
Putting in the extra effort helps your employees feel valued and connected. Staying in touch can help you identify potential problems, prioritize projects, and keep collaboration flowing.
2. Acknowledge Your Employees
Trust is crucial for managing a successful remote team. Without it, your employees will feel alone and disconnected.
Make sure you're accessible to your team and let them know when they can and can't reach you. Remote employees should be kept in the loop and know their voice matters.
Take some time to get to know your team. Schedule regular one-on-one meeting so they can address their concerns without an audience.
Let them know you appreciate what they do and that their contribution to the team has significance.
Do your best to build trust within the team. Although they can't see each other or go to lunch on a regular basis, you can help them stay connected, exchange ideas, and work as a cohesive unit.
3. Give Them What They Need
Don't assume your employees have what they need to make remote work a breeze. They may not have the same access to technology and other office essentials at home.
A good manger knows a happy employee makes for a more committed worker. Check with your team to see what essentials or comforts they need to do their job well.
If there's something they need, provide it or allow them to bring it home from the office. Remember that working from home may be more difficult for some employees, especially if they live in a cramped space or have small children at home.
You want your entire remote team to be as comfortable as possible and equipped with the necessary tools they need to focus on work.
4. Be Empathetic
The pandemic has forced us away from our comfort zones and into new ways of doing business. Many businesses who've never attempted remote work are now seeing the benefits.
But there are always growing pains when you try something new. Some of your employees may have a harder time than others adjusting to this "new normal."
Some team members may have to home school children or may be worrying about sick or vulnerable family members. They may be under a great amount of stress on top of trying to work from home for the first time.
As a manager, you must anticipate these potential problems and address them as they occur. It's important to talk to your teams and keep an open line of communication with them.
Make sure they know you care and are available to help them tackle whatever problems they may face.
5. Set Realistic Expectations
For the sake of your business, it's important to get your whole team on the same page. Knowing what you expect helps them do their jobs with less stress and worry.
The more transparent you can be with your team, the better. Keep your expectations high but realistic. Your employees need clarity about their individual role and how they will contribute to the team as a whole.
You want clear communication regarding what you expect but be just as clear about what they can expect from you as a manager.
6. Maintain Flexibility
Due to the Coronavirus and CDC guidelines, businesses have had to adjust their normal operating procedures. Most businesses have adopted some form of flexible work arrangements to protect the health of their employees and customers.
If you have a good team in place, trust them and offer them the freedom and flexibility they need to get the job done. It's impossible to monitor a remote team in the same way you would an in-house team.
If possible, allow trusted employees to have options for where and when they work. Many remote workers love the freedom of fitting work in around other important aspects of their lives.
Allowing your team a little flexibility will boost morale and productivity.
7. Focus on Outcomes
As manager, your job is to give your team all the tools they need to be successful. Make expectations clear by defining the scope and deadlines you foresee for each project.
Listen to your team. Trust them and adjust your expectations as needed.
You shouldn't try to micromanage every aspect of your remote team's work or time. That's unrealistic and a waste of your time and energy.
Instead, measure success on the outcomes you're seeing. Praise and reward your remote team when they meet or exceed your expectations.