4 best practices for managing remote teams
The internet has transformed the way we work. There is no such thing as a typical “9 to 5” workday anymore. Home computers, laptops, and mobile devices make it easy for people to work anytime and from anywhere.
Many job seekers now look specifically for positions that allow them to work remotely, and many companies are now able to hire highly qualified candidates from all over the world. This trend is especially prevalent in the IT industry.
Of course, there are challenges when it comes to working with distributed teams. Here are a few best practices that can help you successfully handle remote employee management.
1. Start with a plan
Before you can manage a remote team successfully, you have to define your idea of success. Start by envisioning your “perfect team.” How many are there? What are their qualifications and specialties? What will the split be between remote workers vs. onsite?
Next, consider your style of management. Do you like to be involved in every aspect of development or do you like to just delegate tasks and follow up when they’re done? How often do you like to hold meetings? What is your preferred method of communication?
Once you answer these questions, put everything in writing and you’ll have a basic remote management plan that can be updated and tweaked over time. This will give you a solid foundation for putting together your remote “dream team.”
2. Choose your tools
Now that you know what you want your remote team to look like and how it will operate, it’s time to choose the right communication and project management tools.
Project management and communication solutions are extremely important when it comes to remote management. Many remote companies utilize applications such as Trello, Asana, Slack and Skype to communicate with remote employees and teams.
Do your research on different types of communication tools. Once you decide which products are right for you, add them to your management plan and develop a training schedule for onboarding new members of your team.
3. Hire the right people
Okay, you’ve got your management plan in place and all the tools you’ll need to communicate with your remote team. Now you’ve got to go out and find the right people for that team.
You need to look for candidates who have a proven track record of productivity. Not everyone has the mindset and discipline to be able to work remotely. The best remote workers are focused on results and aren’t afraid to ask questions about the project in order to get clarity on expectations.
Some people thrive in a remote situation whereas some people are better suited to work in an office environment. Of course, there are also people who prefer a mix of both – being able to work remotely while also having the option to come into a physical office whenever they want. Be sure to ask each candidate about their preferences so that, if hired, you can accommodate them accordingly.
4. Communicate regularly and frequently
When working with a dedicated development team, the overall key to success lies in communication. While you might not have the luxury of walking down the hall and popping your head in someone’s office to ask them a question, you can certainly Skype that person and get a quick response.
It’s important to keep the lines of communication flowing as frequently and easily with remote workers as with those located in your own office. Everyone should be included in all meetings and discussions, and each person should leave that meeting or discussion knowing exactly what is expected from them and in what time frame.
Let your team know that you trust them to get the job done. Having a clear communication process will reduce the toxic tendency to micromanage your employees.
Working with a remote team doesn’t have to be challenging. If you hire the right people, have a clear project and team management plan in place, and focus on communication, you’ll find that the advantages of having a diverse and highly skilled team – regardless of where the people that make up that team are located – far outweigh the challenges.
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