It can often be a challenge to manage a team. This challenge naturally grows, as the team, you are managing grows. It seems reasonable to manage a team of five, but how manageable does it seem to oversee a team of twenty-five. Now, what happens when that team is completely remote?
Managing a team is no easy feat nevertheless managing a team that you cannot physically see. The virtual realm is growing within companies and soon working remotely may become the new normal.
Know the Challenges You Face
1. Working Hours
Typically working in an office you can pop into the office or cubicle next to you to see if someone is physically at work. Working remotely, it is a challenge. Being a manager how do you ensure that your team is actually "at work" and "doing work"?
Set clear rules. Be firm on employees clocking in and out. Whether this be via a time clock or a chat feature, make sure you, as the manager, are aware when employees are at work, taking a lunch break, and leaving for the day.
Working remotely often leads to having flexible hours. Having flexible hours can often create a runaway effect when working remotely. It is important to set firm and clear boundaries on expectations for flex hours.
When managing a team maintaining communication is essential. If you are not communicating, then how are you a team? It is hard to see tone and body language through an email or chat feature, and there are no water coolers or office lunches in a remote environment. Create a space where virtual face to face meetings are a necessity and part of the daily work routine. Develop a group chat and messaging system.
It is not only important to train oncoming employees to your team but to continuously train your current team. Even if your remote team is operating at its highest efficiency, there is always room for advancement. Being a great manager also means being a great coach. It is important when working virtually to stay in touch and learn and adapt to new technologies. Recording training's so that team members can re-watch and review if your not available to talk is an excellent way to decrease wasting time.
A large majority of people say that they have never been more productive than when they worked remotely. You must account for not only good distractions but bad distractions. As a manager, it is important that you review these distractions with your team, and take them into account. Manage your teams results not their working hours. Are your employees meeting their deadlines? What results are they producing on a daily or weekly basis?
Being able to see what your employees are doing and having access to reviewing their work is key. Create not only direct but remote access to your employee's computer. When the computer is not in a physical workspace it is important to bring transparency to your teams' workday.
Build trust with your employees and have them build trust with you. Do this by transparency and clear expectations. Ensue professionalism and respect. This does not happen overnight. It is earned.
Maintaining expectations and transparency is a significant factor in creating order within your team.
As a remote manager, you may not always be readily available to your team members. Creating a level of trust and consistency with a little help from good tech tools will go miles. Just being cognizant that you, as a manager, need to continue to learn, listen and adapt will create an optimal virtual workspace.
Interesting in reading more about the virtual workspace? Read: 10 Tips for Maintaining a High Performing Remote Team