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Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team
Successful remote workforce management begins with a solidified approach to processes, communication, and team culture.
Remote work is no passing ship. It’s not some fad that everyone will be remembering through memes in a few months’ time. With each day, the number of remote-friendly companies jumps even higher. And lots of companies like to think they’ve figured it out. That they’ve cracked the code on how to manage a team of people working across different locations and time zones. But in reality, when left unchecked and without basic practices, remote work can leave employees feeling left out or unproductive. It can be a sinking ship that employers don’t know how to repair. With the prevalence of remote work on the rise, it’s time to steer in the right direction and learn how to do remote work right.
The key to a successful remote workforce starts at the top. It begins with a solidified approach to processes, communication and team culture, with the tone set by management. And the good news is, it’s possible to hone all of these areas if you apply a few tips to your team set-up. Check out these best practices to create a strong remote team:
Too often, remote work fails to thrive due to a lack of transparency. Companies lack clear expectations and explanations for their internal processes. Instead of operating with clarity and confidence, employees are meandering in an underwater gray area that leaves them confused and unable to see their path to success. As a remote party-of-one they may not know who to ask for help, they may feel unsure about when to “log off,” or they may be unclear of the chain of command. As a business leader, the solution rests in prioritizing process. Processes touch everything from the details of how teams perform their job functions and objectives, to the overall roadmap of how the company is organized and operates.
There should be ready and available documentation for everything, including:
- How meetings are conducted
- How to communicate with team members
- How to submit work and get feedback
- When teams are available and when they are not
- Points of contact for everyone from HR to project managers to C-level executives
- Hierarchy charts of leadership at the company
- Workflow management of individual job functions
- Time off, holiday policies and codes of conduct
All documents should all be located in a central hub of information that is available to everyone at all times. When directions and expectations are clearly laid out in black and white, the entire remote team feels more connected and confident. They feel they are operating within the right parameters and moving in the right direction with their fellow team members—two vital areas that contribute to productivity and job satisfaction.
When teams don’t “see” each other in person every day, communication becomes that much more important. And not all managers are naturally inclined to talk to their teams. But the good ones do. Positive and healthy communication makes team members feel seen and up-to-date with what’s happening in the bigger picture.
Good remote managers:
- Find a way to communicate each workday
- Prioritize touch base sessions with direct reports
- Keep daily notes available for their team to view
- Take the time to just say “hey” or drop a compliment
- Start a conversation or pose a question to get ideas flowing
Delegation and coordination must be flawless and intentional. Your management team may benefit from communication training. From finding more ways to connect with their individual teams so they can instill a greater sense of connection. Not only does this help form better relationships, it also improves workflow. With remote work there are no aside meetings, no run-ins in the elevator, no break room conversations. Discussion must be deliberate and aligned within the team. Not everyone is accustomed to prioritizing daily communication, so it may take some practice to make it a habit.
Ingrain Team Culture
The solid foundation of any company is built into its beliefs and values. When teams work remotely, it can be harder for them to see these philosophical pillars without intentional practice. In order to build strong teams across the world, managers need to clearly display what everyone is rallying behind:
- They need to show employees the greater cause that guides their work
- They should be able to point back to the higher purpose with each task
- Everyone should be motivated by the same code of conduct
- Company values should permeate processes and feel like a united front
- Brand pillars should be displayed in how teams communicate with each other
Is “respect” something your company points to as a core value? Then it should be seen in how teams talk online. It should be obvious in how work/life balance is appreciated. It should be present when teams establish “disruption-free” work time. Make the culture a priority and talk about it often. And also, look for opportunities for fun (remember that?), from virtual team events to contests, rewards, shout-outs and more. Make your people feel valued and connected by something other than their job function.
So what’s the best way to enhance remote work?
When you set expectations early, emphasize communication and strive for a respectful team atmosphere, remote work can be a dream set-up. But is there anything out there that can actually help you prioritize process, communication and team culture? Funny you should ask. Meet Scratch: the answer to remote work’s challenges. As a daily journaling and team check-in system for work, life and everything in between, Scratch facilitates progress reviews, updates, reward systems, engagement, employee dialogue and more. Collaboration doesn’t just happen, so Scratch makes sure it does. Make your remote team feel valued with compliments, kudos and more to give your company the culture-boost it needs.