Remote teams are the new norm in today’s world, and they could be the key to growing a business fast. A study by Global Workplace Analytics found that remote workers were 35 - 40% more productive when working from home (remote American Express employees produced 43% more than their office based counterpoints). You also get access to an international work pool when you hire remotely, which means more talent for your company (among other benefits). Having a remote team does come with its challenges, but it's nothing you can't handle with the right strategies in place. Here we discuss 3 important tips you can use to manage remote teams globally.
1. Create Structure: Assign Responsibilities and Welcome Employee Input
Predictable structures result in high workplace productivity in remote work environments where employees are most likely to disconnect. It’s important to involve your employees when creating these structures to ensure their success — give employees a chance to decide what kind of structure they work best with, so they feel comfortable working remotely.
Clear structures can come in the form of:
- Clear meeting schedules and rotating times to ensure that no one member is constantly inconvenienced by late or early meetings (depending on time zones)
- Deciding on the most effective meeting structure and cadence to hold meetings so that they are focused and purpose-driven (prepare asynchronously)
- Making employees aware of their own responsibilities, their colleagues’, and how they fit into the process
2. Communication, Regular Check-ins, and Continuous Feedback
Over-communicating is paramount to making sure that your employees understand and achieve the desired outcomes, as it can be easy to get lost in a sea of tasks. Some of the tips for more effective remote communication are:
- Video-conferencing - to encourage face-to-face interactions in addition to the traditional email and messenger apps
- Setting clear communication rules - communication should be concise. For example, if you want a 24-hour deadline, you should be clear as to when the 24 hours start and when they end. Avoid vague terms like “quickly” and “soon” when describing expected outcomes so that employees know which tasks they should prioritize. There should also be clear timeframes for things like answering emails (i.e. 24 hours for internal emails)
- Request feedback - Giving and receiving clear and regular feedback ensures that employees perform tasks as per the set expectations. Effective feedback should be positive and specific.
3. Create Well-Documented Procedures and Processes
It’s important to have well-documented processes in place for your remote workers so that you can ensure everyone is following the same guidelines, and there is a clear guiding point for employees starting a new task. This is where "living" documents (those that you update regularly with the latest information) come into play, so that every documented procedure is constantly updated based on the evolving needs of your business. Make sure your employees know where to find these documents, and allow them to contribute impactful ideas to improve the process.
Some more good practices for effective communication and processes are:
- Defining the best channels to communicate different types of information, for example, Slack channels for different projects
- Establishing a communication style that works for everyone involved, for example, if Slack is getting too noisy you need to find a way to highlight what’s important
- Letting employees know who to reach out to for different types of questions
Bonus: Build An Environment Of Trust
Trust is a major foundation for managing a remote workforce. Building an environment of trust begins with the hiring process and lasts through the employee’s tenure at the company. Research indicates that high-trust companies experience 286% more financial returns than low-trust organizations. You can establish a trust environment by:
a) Having an optimal onboarding process
Keep communication flowing throughout the process so the employee feels cared for before their first day. Establish any requirements beforehand so there is no confusion when the start date comes.
b) Focus on the output
Micromanaging your employee’s workloads shows distrust in your team. It’s better to focus on the final results instead of the time an employee spends on each task (unless you are dealing with tasks that require you to track employee completion time). Focus on defining the output and setting clear deadlines. You can also create task milestones to ensure that nothing lags, and schedule meetings around the milestones to discuss progress and challenges.
c) Providing feedback
When an employee completes a task, evaluate their performance and provide honest and timely feedback. Pinpoint the areas that could use some improvement, while highlighting their strengths, so that employees can become more confident about their work.
Manage Remote Teams Like a Pro
Hiring people you trust is the first step to hiring a remote team that you can easily manage. Focus on creating and documenting processes for better productivity, while also defining your communication channels and styles so that it is clear and timely. It’s okay to let your employee manage their time while focusing on the final output instead of micromanaging every task (it saves you both time in the long run!).
The rise in global remote work is an opportunity for you to hire great talent from all over the globe. You can hire and manage employees across different time zones and countries with an Employer of Record (EOR) like Remofirst. Request a demo today and start hiring tomorrow!