Whether you’ve always worked in a traditional workforce or have been asked to lead a brand new distributed team, leading remote work teams can be quite challenging.
Employees and businesses alike have realized the benefits associated with remote work. Therefore, it’s no surprise that the popularity of working remotely has skyrocketed in the past couple of years.
However, you can’t lead a remote workforce using the same principles as an in-office team. In this blog, we’ll share the best strategies you can implement to effectively lead remote work teams.
First, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of building a remote workforce.
Advantages of having remote work teams
- Cost. Switching from an office setup saves overhead expenses like rent and utilities, food expenses, real estate taxes, and more. Global Workplace Analytics suggests that businesses worldwide can save nearly $11,000 every year for every half-time remote team member.
- Productivity and performance. Remote workers have the freedom to design their ideal workspace without any restrictions.
- Healthy work-life balance. Flexible work allows people to devote more time to their family and helps them feel more in control of their life.
- Global talent pool. Businesses don’t have to limit themselves to a 10-mile radius while hiring workers. They have the freedom to focus exclusively on skill and talent instead of worrying about limitations like geography.
These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg; there is a whole lot more to the advantages of remote work.
However, remote work is not all smiles and sparkles. It does have its own set of challenges.
Disadvantages of having remote work teams
- Broken collaboration. When you work with remote work teams with members from varied time zones, collaboration can be a challenge.
- Communication. It’s hard to establish open communication with people you’ve never met in real life. It’s difficult to forge deeper connections with remote coworkers.
- Micromanagement. Leaders often feel like their team members aren’t really working on their tasks from home. This leads to micromanagement, which can be quite frustrating and stressful for both, leaders and employees.
But you don’t have to worry!
Here are a handful of strategies you can implement to effectively lead your remote workforce.
Strategies to lead remote work teams efficiently
Define your remote work team
Whether you’ve inherited a team or if you’re struggling to work with your existing team in a remote work setting, it’s crucial to take a step back and understand the purpose and vision of your team. Furthermore, ensure that your team members are aware of the same.
What do you expect from the team? Explain how the current tasks and projects help the team achieve their collective vision.
Establish clear and open communication
The State of Remote Work 2021 report showed that one of the biggest challenges remote work teams face is effective communication and collaboration.
This is because, with remote work teams, it’s difficult to call impromptu ad hoc meetings to brainstorm an idea. Teams fail to develop a personal relationship because every interaction they have is scheduled on their calendar.
There’s no water cooler conversations, no evening coffee, no shared lunch breaks — basically, no natural social interactions to develop a deeper bond.
This can cause team members to feel isolated and demotivated.
- Conduct regular virtual team-building sessions to help your team connect with each other on a deeper level.
- Have public channels where team members are updated about essential conversations and discussions.
- Document everything, from takeaways from meetings to important business decisions.
- Remote teams often face issues while brainstorming virtually. You can make brainstorming more efficient by using Allo’s digital whiteboard and collaboration tools.
- Leaders must learn to over-communicate critical information to ensure everyone understands their message. For example, if something was discussed during the group call, summarize the message in an email or slack message.
Have systematic procedures in place
When you work with a distributed team, your members may end up working long hours to ensure they can collaborate with each other. This can cause a decrease in their productivity and performance and lead to burnout.
It’s your responsibility to establish best practices and systems to make collaboration more efficient.
Curate a culture of accountability
Dictating work hours, setting nearly-impossible goals, or micromanaging remote work teams is not the way to go. Even if it might make you seem out of control when you first do it, it’s crucial to establish a culture of accountability.
Give members the freedom to work on their tasks in their own way. Focus on the outcome rather than the activity.
This makes members feel trusted and motivated to do their best.
You should periodically check in and ask for progress updates or help them in case they have any roadblocks.
Work towards building trust and transparency within your remote team. You can do this by involving team members while discussing critical issues and decisions. Furthermore, ensure that you actually take their input under consideration.
The last thing you want is to make them believe the trust and transparency are simply superficial.
Host frequent, agenda-driven meetings
Hosting meetings is not a big deal; every team does it. But it’s crucial to not just hold meetings for the sake of it.
Your scheduled meetings shouldn’t be a mental drain for your team.
Have a clear agenda for all your meetings and ensure your team knows about it beforehand. This ensures that your team is prepared for the meeting and makes the time much more effective.
You can conduct short daily stand-up meetings simply to gain an update and make sure your team knows their tasks for the day.
Equip employees with the right tools
Technical challenges are part and parcel of remote work teams; it doesn’t matter how tech-savvy your team is. Managers should ensure that their team has the technology and resources they need to work remotely. This support doesn’t just mean providing remote employees with a laptop and internet connection.
Build systems and processes by leveraging tons of platforms and applications that aid remote work. Project management platforms like Allo allow remote team members to keep their workflow systematic and ensure they all are on the same page.
Digital tools for managing work teams
While there are several video conferencing tools in the market, Zoom is the best out of the lot. It’s an easy-to-use corporate video communication software that allows remote teams to share screens and transfer files seamlessly.
You can stream videos in HD and even adjust your picture quality in case of an unstable network connection. So, instead of getting cut off the call due to your internet issues, you can choose to see your colleagues in lower quality and still be a part of the meeting.
It has extensive features that make video calls less taxing — slightly beautifying appearances, allowing users to change their backgrounds (and maybe hide their cluttered room), etc.
Slack is the king of easy communication for remote work teams. It has an intuitive interface and allows team members to exchange information swiftly.
It allows users to integrate a plethora of third-party applications and is an excellent choice for primary communication when it comes to remote teams.
Allo is a visual project management tool that goes beyond any other project management tool in the market. It strives to promote open transparency within the team and is designed to tackle the limitations of tools like Asana, Trello, and Confluence.
Allo’s virtual whiteboard and its elaborate features help elevate your creative brainstorming or visual thinking sessions.
You can connect Allo with Zoom and have your entire team on a video call to brainstorm ideas with sticky notes, text, images, and doodles.
These digital tools are the real superheroes to managing your remote work teams. You can leverage them to streamline collaboration, improve your team’s time management ability, and keep your entire team on the same page.