With the rise of remote working comes an enormous opportunity for small business owners and freelance entrepreneurs.
But only if you know how to harness your remote team’s potential and drive it in a direction that serves you.
Achieving that goal is challenging, but with the right approach and tools, you can take advantage of the opportunity.
To help you, I’ll provide my experience as a remote team freelance writer and how my manager made our team an enormous success.
And the best tips and practices for managing remote teams to help you get the most from yours.
1. Establish Clear Communication
Clear communication is crucial for managing remote teams, which means using adequate channels and creating an open dialogue every team member feels comfortable with.
The key is to have regular virtual meetings, check-ins, and progress reports through video conferencing tools such as Zoom or Skype, instant messaging, or other digital communication tools.
And, of course, ensuring your team members have access to the same communication tools and know how to use them.
Besides regular check-ins, encourage open and honest communication among your team members through everyday team-building activities and promote a positive and supportive work environment.
The more you communicate with your team, the easier it will be to support one another, which leads to increased productivity, job satisfaction, and success.
2. Set Expectations and Goals
When managing remote teams, it’s essential to have clear expectations and goals to ensure remote team members stay motivated and focused.
To set expectations and goals, start by communicating your company’s mission and objectives to ensure team members understand the overall direction of your business.
Next, work with each team member to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals tailored to each member’s strengths and weaknesses.
Also, set expectations for work hours, communication, and collaboration.
- For example, expect team members to be available for video conferences during specific times each day or to respond to emails within a particular time frame.
And it’s your job to check in with your remote team members to ensure they’re on track, have what they need, and help them overcome any obstacles to achieve their goals. Also, provide regular feedback and support, as remote work can leave people isolated.
Setting expectations and goals is a win-win, as your remote team will maintain their focus and motivation, and you’ll get the most out of them.
3. Provide Necessary Tools and Resources
Remote teams need access to the right tools and resources, and depending on your business, you might need to provide them to ensure your team can perform their work and communicate effectively.
Start by assessing your team’s needs, such as hardware, software, and other tools, and check that everyone knows how to use them.
- For example, some start-ups provide online training sessions and video tutorials to educate their remote teams on using software systems.
Also, consider your team’s physical environment, like fast and reliable internet access and any specific equipment essential to providing the service you need.
And remember to support your team’s well-being, such as allowing flexible work hours and opportunities for remote team building and socialization between members.
The following 3 steps will tell you how:
4. Foster a Sense of Community
Remote workers can sometimes feel a little isolated, which can have adverse effects like self-doubt, decreased motivation, and lower productivity.
To combat this, foster a sense of community among your team members by running virtual team-building activities and social events.
- Consider regular team meetings, video conferences, and online discussions. And encourage open communication by regularly checking in with everyone using team group chats.
- Encourage remote team members to get to know one another by discussing their interests and hobbies in team forums.
- Or include virtual happy hours, online games, or other activities that allow remote workers to connect more casually.
Your goal is to create a supportive, open culture that recognizes remote workers for their value and contributions.
Remember, we get back what we give out, and everyone loves being part of a community.
5. Encourage Collaboration
When remote workers collaborate, we achieve common goals, solve problems, and share ideas. We work for our community!
You encourage collaboration among your remote team members by establishing clear communication channels, such as team chat platforms or project management tools, and assigning tasks that require teamwork, such as group presentations or group reports.
Then use your culture of openness, transparency, and trust to run performance evaluations, ensuring your team has what they need to collaborate, such as video conferencing software, project management tools, and file-sharing platforms.
You aim to keep your team talking, so everyone works together to achieve your business goals.
6. Maintain Flexibility
Managing a remote team comes with unique challenges compared to office-based employees.
After all, your team could be in 4 different time zones, of different ages and family situations, and have unique geographical and logistical difficulties.
To accommodate these needs, maintain flexibility by implementing the following strategies:
- Allow for flexible arrangements, schedules, or part-time work so remote workers can balance their job and personal commitments.
- Provide your remote workers with the means to work from anywhere. Depending on your business circumstances, this could include laptops, smartphones, or high-speed internet access.
- Be open to new technologies and virtual collaboration tools, such as video conferencing software or project management platforms.
- And be sensitive to changes in your remote workers’ circumstances, like changes in family responsibilities or personal health issues.
I`m a remote team member working as a digital nomad supporting a family, and my managers’ adaptiveness and flexibility have been crucial to our success.
By creating a supportive and productive work environment, our team`s manager enables members to give her 100% commitment by being open to change, providing the tools and resources, and accommodating our needs.
But it’s not all one-way traffic; remote workers are accountable too!
I’ll explain next:
7. Foster Accountability
To get the best from your remote teams, you must hold them accountable for meeting deadlines and producing quality work.
And it’s another win-win because encouraging high performance and holding your team members responsible for their work helps improve their overall performance.
How to foster accountability:
- One way to foster accountability is to set clear expectations and goals, ensuring remote workers understand what you expect of them and work towards the same objectives.
- Another is checking in with your remote workers via virtual meetings, email, or instant messaging.
- And using tools such as project management software to track their progress and ensure everyone is on track.
Fostering accountability by setting clear expectations, staying in touch, providing regular feedback, and tracking progress, ensures your remote workers are meeting their obligations and working effectively as a team.
Managing a remote team can be challenging, and it takes time to find the right people.
The key is sticking to your business values and goals and finding freelancers that share them.
Then create your community and foster relationships by providing support, constructive reviews, and encouraging accountability.
As an experienced team member, believe me; once you do that, your team will go above and beyond to help your business achieve its goals.