Working remotely has now become standard business practice for many companies. As an employer, offering remote working options has become a necessity to draw the most talented team to your business, according to the webinar “How to Have Success with a Remote Workforce,” featuring guest speakers from HubSpot and Dropbox. As heard in the webinar, successfully managing remote teams makes all the difference.
If you missed the webinar, the great news is that it’s available for on-demand viewing. Click here to watch “How to Have Success with a Remote Workforce,” and read our notes from the event below.
The advantages to working remotely are plentiful for telecommuting workers, which include increased productivity, greater work-life balance, more efficient time management, fewer out-of-pocket costs, and less stress. Implementing a remote workforce doesn’t come without its challenges, however. There are four key areas to consider when building and successfully managing your remote team. Consider these important tips:
Manage Difficulties Disconnecting
Remote team members and managers can experience difficulties in disengaging from the office. Office access is readily available, time zone differences for bicoastal workers can create longer days, and remote staff members can feel as though they’re under a microscope, making it difficult to disconnect at the end of the workday. Follow these tips:
- Employees will mirror your behavior as their manager. Encourage them to keep a schedule that not only promotes accountability, but also provides regularly scheduled breaks and end times. Some remote workers work constantly because they feel they’re under a microscope. Train your remote workers that their technology has an “off” button and adhere to this policy. As the manager, keep a consistent schedule, but also adhere to your “off” hours by turning off your technology during nonscheduled hours.
- Encourage your remote workers to take regular breaks and lunch hours.
- Encourage your remote workers to track their hours so they will end their day after the allotted hours have been reached.
- Practice and preach self-control. Putting time in around the clock isn’t going to lead to productive work hours for you or your team.
Practice Conflict Resolution
If a conflict arises between team members, it’s critical to address these issues immediately. Follow these tips to avoid and address conflict within your team:
- As a remote manager, schedule regular on-site visits with the corporate office. When on site, make the most of face-to-face communication with collaborating team members. When traveling, schedule in-person meetings with remote staff along your route.
- Use tools such as videoconferencing to address conflicts between remote staff and teams in a more personal way.
- When discussing conflicts, focus on what people are saying and also focus on what they’re not saying. Clearing the air in a professional way is the best approach to resolving conflicts.
Use Communication Tools
Strong communication is a critical tool in managing remote teams. Consider these communication tips for more effective management:
- Embrace new ways of communicating by not getting into a technology rut. Find opportunities to “see” your remote workers by utilizing videoconferencing periodically. Use direct communication tools such as instant messaging and phone calls to stay in touch as well.
- Keep detailed notes of conference calls for future reference and to keep sharper focus during meetings.
- During conference call meetings, ask another staff member to man the chat pane and take attendance so you can track participation and address questions.
Build Office Culture
Creating a positive office culture is as important for remote team members as it is for on-site staff. Follow these tips for promoting the best office culture:
- Encourage your remote staffers to feel empowered to create their own office space. Carving out designated office space will foster a more productive work environment.
- As the manager, communicate cross-functionally with other departments and encourage remote workers to do the same. Regular check-ins with on-site staff is important to promote a feeling of camaraderie.
- Have employees send regular updates, including successes and challenges, to you as their manager and to other team members.
- Duplicate corporate functions in the field. For example, if the corporate office is having a pizza party, be sure to send pizza to remote workers at their homes.
With these tips for successfully managing remote teams, you’ll be sure to develop a happy and engaged team.