The working environment has changed considerably in recent years and with it the managing of employee’s. Offices are reducing in size as more employees are encouraged to work from home. Equally, the growing freelancing industry has spawned a new breed of remote teams businesses can call on as and when required.
The benefits of running and managing remote teams are numerous. Employers can reduce their office overheads while employees enjoy the flexibility of more dynamic working hours and the end of participating in the rat run. As a result, productivity increases, costs are reduced and the perils of reaching burnout are consigned to the history books.
Managing remote teams isn’t without its challenges, and if you’re a company director considering mobilising the workforce, we’ve got 8 tips for how to do so successfully.
1. Set the ground rules
Remote staff are rarely seen, but that doesn’t mean they can get away scot-free. In order to maximise productivity and ensure there is no disconnect between remote and on-site staff, it is important you establish ground rules.
Drawing up working times and the periods during which remote staff must be contactable should be one of your first steps.
2. Put the right communication tools in place
Successful businesses communicate effectively. Poor communication can kill morale and, ultimately, drive any company into the ground.
The good news is that with remote teams, communication really is no different to when you’re all in-house – you just need the right tools. Email and telephone will prove useful, but they’re nothing like the new breed of instant messaging services. Try Slack for size. It has even managed to replace email for many businesses.
3. Implement a project management system
Handling projects via email simply isn’t effective and is even less so when you have a remote team. Instead, you should use software designed to help every member of the team contribute to a project and do their bit, no matter where they are. Trello remains one of the best examples of such a tool.
4. Use screen sharing
If your team is located offsite, members can’t simply pop into your office to show you something on their laptop, so it is vital that you have access to screen sharing. Most operating systems like Windows have the ability to do this out of the box, so little to no investment will be required.
5. Collaborate on documents
The need for expensive document servers is lessening thanks to services like Dropbox and Google Docs providing low-cost alternatives for document sharing and collaboration. Most will allow multiple users to view, edit and comment on documents and spreadsheets and are therefore brilliant tools for remote workers.
6. Monitor productivity and hours worked
As noted in tip 1, the ground rules for remote teams are essential if the process is to work effectively, so ensure you monitor the output of your team and keep tabs on the hours worked. You don’t have to be ‘big brother’, but as someone at the top of the business, you need to ensure you’re getting what you expect from the remote team.
7. Allow a degree of flexibility
If your remote team works primarily from home, it makes sense to offer a degree of flexibility when it comes to working hours. Depending on the nature of your business, if they are able to start work early in order to finish early, or vice-versa, let them do just that. It works both ways; in return, they should deliver their absolute best work, on time, every time.
8. Review the setup every quarter
As a director of the business, you’ll want to know that the remote working arrangements are effective. Equally, those people making up the remote teams need to be given an opportunity to air their feelings about how it is going. Hold quarterly meetings with them in order to iron out any potential issues or roadblocks.
Get it right, and running remote teams can have a seismic impact on the performance and output of your business. Use the tips above to create remote teams that are productive, engaged and highly cost-effective.