Today half of our U.S. workforce works remotely. That means when it comes to managing remote teams, businesses have to get it right to be successful. A recent study of remote workers, however, revealed 70 percent of remote workers feel left out. Clearly there’s lots of opportunity for improvement in helping remote teams thrive.
How can you do better? Do these 6 things to effectively manage remote teams:
6 Ways to Effectively Manage Remote Teams
1. Encourage your team to have an open line of communication with one another at all times.
This goes beyond one-on-one communication. Think bigger. You need to ensure your entire team stays connected. If one team member has a question or needs clarification, it’s likely another does too. With strong team communication, everyone benefits from shared questions and answers, and you won’t waste time on repetition or confusion. One great solution is leveraging cloud-based collaboration tools to share information and stay connected. At Spinnaker, we use Slack to power conversation and collaboration among our own remote team of experts.
2. Create a team that puts the team first.
Teams need to think like teams to thrive. Create a culture of thinking in which the team puts the team first. This means sharing information that affects or benefits the team as soon as possible—rather than waiting for a team meeting. It means encouraging dialogue and feedback, and seeking team buy-in on critical initiatives. It also means operating in the spirit of compromise and flexibility, for example scheduling meetings and deadlines to accommodate time zones and work styles. To manage remote teams, follow what the old adage tells us: There’s just no “I” in team
3. Clearly define, document, and communicate expectations.
If your expectations aren’t clear, your team won’t have a chance to achieve them. Don’t make them guess. Whether your approach is to plot a specific road map to your destination, or just to point the team to the end point and say “go,” you have to communicate clearly in order to set them up for success. Be as specific as possible to ensure there’s no gray area. Documenting expectations also helps ensure everyone is on the same page, and gives your team a reference point to review.
4. Build trust.
Trust is the foundation of empowerment, and empowerment fuels accomplishment. Treat your team members as partners and show the highest level of respect for their knowledge, experience, and ability to get the job done. Assemble the right people with the right skills, give them clear expectations, trust that they’re capable, and then watch what they can do. You can help team members build trust among themselves by encouraging them to share information that will help them forge personal connections. Make sharing a part of your team meetings, work it into conversation while using collaboration tools like Slack, send a team-only newsletter, make time for team dinners and other events when you’re actually together—or all of the above. Trust makes a difference.
5. Create a road map for predictable, productive decision making.
When can your team proceed independently, and when do they need input to proceed? The answer should be crystal clear as to when seeking guidance is mission-critical, and when the team is free to make the decision and move on. To manage remote teams, create a detailed communication plan that clearly outlines the road map the team needs to follow—as well as how to communicate and with whom, based on the issue and the level of urgency. The result? You’ll minimize disruption and delay, and maximize your remote team’s efficiency and productivity.
6. Make regular meetings a priority.
I don’t advocate having meetings just for the sake of having meetings, but it’s critically important to keep remote teams connected. Try a 15-minute daily check-in to catch up on what’s taking place day to day. A standard agenda also helps—such as reviewing successes, priorities, needs, and obstacles. The secret to success: Keep it short and simple.
To learn more about successful remote teams, check out our Ask Spinnaker blog that answers the question: “How Do I Build a Thriving Remote Team?”
At Spinnaker, we’re the go-to resource for the real-time results you need now, and the lasting impact you depend on to strengthen your business in the future. Our expertise, agility, and first-hand business knowledge move your business forward. To find out more, connect with us today.