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The Best Ways to Lead a Remote Team

April 18, 2020, 7:23 am

Due to these rather uncertain times, companies have begun adopting remote working policies to continue their operations. But even before the crisis, remote working had begun growing in popularity, and in some cases helped make businesses more efficient. An article on Business 2 Community points out two main reasons for this: increased employee engagement and lower costs. However, despite all the advantages of remote working, it can be very challenging to manage a team you can’t work with face-to-face.

Whether you’re new to the practice or have been enjoying a work from home setup for years, it helps to understand the best practices on how to lead a remote team.

Manage your expectations

Before anything else, it’s important to lay down the ground rules when it comes to tasks and work hours. For instance, if you’re expecting your team to send in reports at the end of every week, make sure to tell them. Remote working usually entails flexible hours, but you can also set certain timeframes for everyone to be online. It is unfair to expect them to be on-call 24/7 just because they don’t report to an office. All in all, don’t leave your team to do the guesswork—that will only lead to frustration, which brings us to our next point.

Keep communication lines open

When all conversations happen online, it’s easy for things to get misinterpreted or lost in translation. And for digital companies, open communication—not limited to job orders and deadlines—is what will help you foster that team spirit. This is why coworking giant Industrious stresses the importance of building a community, despite the closure of their physical spaces due to the recent pandemic. To keep morale high, they make use of their Continuous program on their platform as a way for members to stay connected, be it through chats or voice calls. As a general rule, relying on convenient messaging tools allows everyone to update one another and work on problems together in real time. Don’t just leave it to email or weekly regroups. For leaders, it’s an even better practice to check-in every morning, especially if your team is still in the process of learning the ropes.

Take advantage of video

While messages get the job done in terms of short-term communication, it’s essential to make time for video calls too. This is recommended when you’re having particularly important meetings, as your members’ expressions can provide valuable context to the discussion. Additionally, video can also work for more personal conversations. Of course, video can be tricky, given that internet connections can fluctuate in certain areas. If anyone is having connectivity issues, stick to video conferencing software like Skype, which can run even on the lowest of bandwidths.

Focus on the output

Micromanaging is a bad habit no matter what kind of workspace you operate. Unfortunately, ZDNet found that it’s incredibly common among remote leaders. After all, since managers don’t have the luxury of looking over anyone’s shoulder, it can be tempting to ask for updates every hour or so. However, not only will this stress you and your team out unnecessarily, it also shows how little you trust your team to do their jobs. Instead, focus on the output and set deadlines for certain tasks. When they consistently fail to meet them, that’s when you should tighten the reins.

Leading a remote team can be a daunting task. However, if you stay on top of communication and train your team well enough that you trust them to get the job done, then it should be smooth sailing.

For more business tips and local news, check out our other articles on the Real Vail blog.

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