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How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team

During the pandemic, removal became a necessary measure. Now, a few years later, many companies choose this format voluntarily - it is often more convenient for both employees and management. But despite all the advantages, there are disadvantages in the home office mode.

The advantages of remote work are clear - companies can hire specialists from anywhere in the world and save on office rent, and the team has the opportunity to organize comfortable working conditions for themselves, not waste time and money on the way to the office and not be distracted by extraneous noise.

But the remote format will be effective only if it is properly organized. If you do not think through a team management system, communication will become chaotic — in such a system, employees will not be able to transfer information to each other and set tasks promptly. As a result, the manager spends more time on micromanagement and risks the company's reputation due to missed deadlines.

There are two global problems that often lead to this result:

1. Lack of full control. There are fewer temptations to be distracted by extraneous things in the office than at home. The remote manager can only hope that the employee is really busy with work, and not lying on the couch and flipping through social networks.

2. Information noise. This is all that has nothing to do with work, but takes away the employee's attention. This usually happens when working communication is conducted in regular messengers, such as Telegram or Whatsapp. Work chats are mixed with news and entertainment channels, messages from friends and family. The employee's attention is scattered, and it takes more time to find work information.

In order for remote work to be effective, it is important to provide the team with such conditions:

  • The ability to calmly concentrate on tasks without being distracted by extraneous factors;

  • Quick exchange of information and documents;

  • Understanding your role in the team and the perimeter of responsibility;

  • The ability to remotely monitor employees.

It is important to build a competent communication in which everyone will feel comfortable working. Let's list a few rules that will help with this:

  • Set clear tasks for employees

  • Enter the practice of planning

  • Form a strategy for the month

  • Think of an understandable motivation system

  • Take into account force majeure

  • Build transparent communication

  • Define the roles in the team

  • Provide quick access to information

  • Work in a separate space

Set clear tasks for employees

In remote teams, the manager is not within walking distance of the team, he cannot quickly answer a question or suggest how best to do the task. He also cannot be in touch every minute to help an employee understand a particular process.

In this case, tasks are usually set by writing to an employee in a messenger or by e-mail. If the team does not understand how the work is structured and where to look for information, there is a risk of getting confused in the communication channels and losing the right message. The minutes of the search add up to hours of lost working time, so it is important to provide each employee with clear instructions in which the general procedure is prescribed. For example, regulations on where and how the team sets tasks and stores files with documents on projects or clients.

When setting tasks, it is important to make sure that the person has understood it correctly. Ask the employee to retell the task in their own words — feedback will help eliminate all misunderstandings at once.

Enter the practice of planning

Ask employees to make a work plan for each day. This way, the team will keep current tasks in focus, and managers will understand that there is movement on them. You can create a separate chat in which employees will write a to-do list for the day. Each task needs a specific time deadline — for example, not just "Call 10 clients", but "10:00-11:30. To call 10 clients with an extension offer." Time frames help you to concentrate better and not delay the task.

At the end of the day, it should be noted what was done and what was not done and why. This instills in employees responsibility and the habit of analyzing results.

Form a strategy for the month

In setting daily tasks, you need to build on a common strategy. To make it clear to everyone in the team, set tasks for a month.

  • The ideal algorithm would be:

  • The manager formulates general goals for the next month.

  • An employee — alone or together with a supervisor — determines the plan according to which he will move towards achieving goals.

  • Tasks for a month are divided into tasks for weeks, tasks for weeks — into tasks for days. A deadline is set for each goal.

  • The employee executes the plan and reports weekly to the supervisor.

The date of the report on completed goals is a "checkpoint" that everyone in the company understands. The manager will not have to distract employees from work on other days and separately find out who has done what. This way he will be able to track progress in the background and guide the team in time if adjustments are needed.

Think of an understandable motivation system

The team will have higher performance when employees are motivated and work for results. This way they plan their working hours competently, are actively involved in the processes and are not afraid to ask questions in order to achieve more. But for this, the team needs an understandable motivation system. There are different methods of motivation, for example:

  • Bonuses for employees of the month and for the implementation of the plan;

  • Payment for training courses, conferences;

  • Additional days off;

  • Team building;

  • Participation in interesting projects.

Employees are also motivated by professional development. Specialists rarely stay in the same position for decades if they do not see opportunities for growth. To keep people in the company, it is important to provide them with basic prospects - salary increases and career growth over time.

It is important to remember that employees are more involved in the work and care about the overall result when they feel like part of the team. Remote employees are often "disconnected" from each other — they do not have an office where they can communicate freely and have coffee together during a break.

To create a friendly and cohesive team in a remote format, follow the key rules:

  • Think about competent onboarding. Gradually immerse employees in work processes, introduce newcomers to remote colleagues and choose an experienced mentor who will help newcomers adapt and join the team.

  • Develop a corporate culture. Even remotely, employees can communicate in an informal field. For example, to call and discuss books, watch movies, share specialized literature, play online games. Once every six months or a year, you can arrange joint trips or corporate parties.

  • Talk to the team about the development strategy. Arrange calls that will be devoted not to standard meetings, but to discussing the values and objectives of the company. Celebrate the contribution of employees and their role in achieving common goals.

  • Ask employees for feedback. This is how people feel that their opinion is important - they trust management more when they know that they are being taken care of.

  • Let's give feedback ourselves. It is important to encourage the success of employees - this motivates them to work better. Respond to questions and initiatives from colleagues. This affects their engagement and interest in the work.

Take into account force majeure

Office employees may get sick, break off on family business, or get stuck in traffic. This can happen with remote employees, but in home office mode, management cannot make sure that employees are absent for a really important reason. In order for the team not to abuse this, it is worth immediately defining a list of respectful force majeure. Add this to the job description or internal policy and send it to the general chat or to all employees in person. This approach will help to define boundaries from the very beginning and avoid misunderstandings.

Build transparent communication

In a transparent business, employees understand how the company works. They are familiar with all the processes, understand the goals and objectives of the business, and readily come to the rescue of colleagues. Managers share key information with the team, do not look at employees "from top to bottom" and openly answer questions.

It is not so easy to build such communication with a remote format. When a team communicates only online, the same connection is not formed between employees as when communicating in person in the office. However, it is possible to achieve a certain openness with a remote team. The following rules will help in this:

  • Solve work issues in shared chats. Involve the team in a dialogue and search for solutions - this contributes to overall engagement.

  • Openly publish strategies and plans. Give the team access to the results of the teams' work. Update them on time so that employees can see what results they have already achieved and what remains to be done.

  • Don't build walls between departments. It is important to build a system in which employees are loyal to the requests of other departments. Encourage colleagues when they come to each other's rescue and solve problems together. This cultivates an open environment in which the team is focused on the overall result.

  • Discuss not only successes, but also business failures. When management is not afraid to appear vulnerable, employees learn to take their own mistakes more calmly. Show that problems are points of growth. Thanks to them, the team understands what is worth working on.

Define the roles in the team

Every team has its own hierarchy. If it is not formed on purpose, it will develop by itself. Employees should understand the structure of their company. This is how they understand who is responsible for what, who reports to whom, and who to turn to for help. Then the people in the team will not shift responsibility to each other.

Provide quick access to information

All processes in remote work are tied to the exchange of information. The amount of data is large: chats, documents, tables, data, passwords, reports. If the communication system is not set up and is built chaotically, the documents will be scattered through different communication channels. For example, in different messengers and in the mail. In such information chaos, the efficiency of work decreases. According to IDC, employees lose up to 20% of their working time searching for information if it is not structured.

Think over the data storage system and provide access to it for all employees. You can distribute information and documents to specific chats. Or store them in another place, but in the same space.

Create an internal knowledge base with clearly structured information and provide each employee with quick access to it.

Work in a separate space

It is difficult for employees to navigate and save time if they have to communicate with colleagues and customers immediately by phone, mail or messenger. Move the work communication into a separate space, isolated from the information noise.

Use one thing instead of multiple communication channels. The most popular option is messengers. It is convenient, fast and accessible to everyone. Distribute all the processes into separate chats so that the information on them does not get mixed up. For example, you can create different chats for departments and tasks.

The team will not have to spend time searching for documents — data on individual processes is stored in specific chats. Employees know who to write to and where to ask questions about tasks, and it is easier for managers to track progress.

If there are a lot of processes, information in a regular messenger can get mixed up even in the chat system. In addition, the popular WhatsApp* and Telegram are overflowing with news channels, selections of "Top movies for the evening" and messages from grandma — this distracts from work and makes it difficult to communicate in a team.

To build effective communication without distractions, it is worth transferring business communication to a corporate messenger. For example, Compass, Slack, Rocket Chat. Corporate messengers have three key advantages over regular applications.

First of all, there is no information noise. Business messenger is only for business communication. Employees have nothing to distract from their tasks.

Secondly, life-work balance. Personal life and work are clearly differentiated if a separate messenger is used for work.

Thirdly, there are tools to increase the productivity of the team. For example, in some corporate messengers, you can create separate spaces with your own set of chats — for different departments, clients or companies. This helps to clearly delineate the processes and not get confused in a lot of correspondence.

Each messenger has its own set of features, so you should choose according to the specific needs of the business. Here are some features that will be useful in a corporate messenger:

  • Employee rights management. You can forbid them to forward messages, download files, and search for each other in the search. Flexible privacy settings help to further protect sensitive data.

  • Reminders. They can be placed on any messages, and at the set time the application will notify all users in the chat. This way, no one will forget to reply to a message or connect to a call.

  • Comments on messages are threads. They help to collect all the data about the task in one place. This way you can discuss individual processes in detail and avoid chaos in the chat.

  • Activity statistics. Demonstrates how many hours an employee has spent in the app and how many actions they have performed. Such gamification increases the healthy spirit of competition and allows you to understand who in the team is actively involved in the processes and who is shirking.

How to effectively manage a remote office: briefly about the main thing

The basis for managing a remote team is well—organized communication. If there is one, the management does not need to constantly monitor the work and spend time on micromanagement.

To create such an environment, follow the basic rules:

  • Define the roles in the team — make sure that everyone understands their area of responsibility, tasks and goals.

  • Implement the practice of daily planning so that employees always keep their focus on tasks.

  • Link daily tasks with a monthly strategy.

  • Mark the "control points" for progress reports.

  • Think of a motivation system.

  • Build transparent communication - everyone should be aware of their role in the common cause.

  • Cultivate a team spirit and a lack of snobbery.

  • Create a structured knowledge base for the team.

  • Turn business communication into a separate application to isolate the team from information noise and distractions.


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