Imagine you’re the manager of a team of remote workers.
You sit in your office, surrounded by all the tools of modern communication—a computer, a phone, and an intercom. But despite your best efforts, things just aren’t going well. The team’s behind schedule, deadlines are slipping by, and there’s a conflict between team members…
What can you do to turn the situation around and start getting results from your remote team? Here are some tips.
1. Define roles and responsibilities
When working remotely, it’s especially important to make sure that everyone on the team knows what their role is and what they are responsible for. Otherwise, people will feel confused, and frustrated, and before you know it, deadlines are whizzing by.
Here are a few tips for making sure that everyone’s responsibilities are clear:
- Write it down. Make a to-do list of all the tasks that need to be done and assign them to specific team members. This can be done using a project management tool like OfficeClip.
- Communicate regularly. Have regular check-in meetings (either in person or via video conferencing) to make sure that everyone is on track and that there are no problems that need to be addressed.
- Delegate carefully. When assigning tasks, make sure to take into account each team member’s strengths and weaknesses. You don’t want to overload anyone or set them up for failure.
- Automate your workflow so you can spend less time dealing with admin, and more time helping your team collaborate.
2. Set clear goals and expectations
Goals and expectations need to be set in stone—and this is all the more important when your workers are remote. Falling short here means confusion and frustration will soon follow.
For example, let’s say you’re managing a team of remote workers who are responsible for improving conversions on your eCommerce site.
To meet this goal, you need to break it down into smaller tasks and assign them to different team members. You’ll also need tools to track the progress of each team member and make sure that they are meeting the deadlines. Some example goals include—
- Researching the latest website conversion statistics and setting goals based on findings
- Creating user personas
- Creating a project plan and setting budgets
- Assigning tasks
- Holding daily standups, etc.
Top tip: Gantt charts and kanban boards are two of the most popular tools for tracking the progress of a project.
3. Communicate frequently and effectively
When working with remote teams, it is important to communicate frequently and effectively. This way, everyone on the team is always on the same page and knows what is going on.
Some of the most popular methods include email, instant messaging, video conferencing, and project management software.
As well as having a range of communication tools in place, you also need to make sure everyone knows which channel they should use for which type of communication. For example, you might use email or chat apps for general updates, and project management software for specific tasks. For important meetings or one-on-ones, video software is best.
4. Encourage collaboration
When working remotely, it’s easy for team members to feel isolated and alone. In fact, multiple studies have shown loneliness is one of the biggest challenges that remote workers face.
There are a few ways you can combat this:
- Create opportunities for social interaction. For example, you can have regular team-building activities or hold virtual happy hours.
- Use collaborative tools. There are a number of tools that can help team members stay connected and collaborate, even when they’re not in the same physical location. These include tools like Slack, Google Hangouts, and Zoom.
- Encourage communication. Make sure that team members feel comfortable communicating with each other, both about work-related matters and personal ones. This will help to create a sense of unity and team spirit.
- Provide feedback. Regular feedback is an essential part of any manager-employee relationship, but it’s even more important when working with a remote team. This is because it’s more difficult to gauge how someone is doing when you can’t see them in person.
5. Create a vibrant and inclusive work culture
It’s easy to feel cut off from things when you’re remote— after all, you’re not physically in the office and you can’t just pop over to someone’s desk for a chat. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create a strong work culture that everyone feels part of.
Here are some tips:
- Make sure everyone feels included. This can be as simple as sending out a daily or weekly update email so everyone knows what’s going on. You could also have regular video calls with the whole team so everyone has a chance to catch up.
- Encourage social interaction. This can be done in a number of ways, such as having regular team-building activities or holding virtual happy hours.
- Use collaborative tools. There are a number of tools that can help team members stay connected and collaborate, even when they’re not in the same physical location.
- Be playful: Games, quizzes, allowing general chat on your chat app, and allowing emojis and gifs in communication can all help people relax, channel their creativity, and have fun.
6. Offer support
Some of the most popular methods include providing feedback, offering training and development opportunities, and having regular check-ins. It’s also a good idea to create a system where team members can ask for help when they need it—as well as to know how to spot the signs someone needs help.
Common things to look out for include—
- A decrease in productivity, more mistakes than usual, and social withdrawal.
- Workers not logging off at their usual time, or working excessive hours without a break can also be signs that someone is struggling and could do with some support.
- Signs of burnout, including fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating (which can lead to mistakes), and changes in eating or sleeping habits can also be indicators that someone on your team is struggling and could benefit from some support.
If you notice any of these signs, reach out to the team member in question and offer your support. Just letting them know you’re there for them can make a big difference.
By following these tips, you can improve the performance of your remote team and make sure that everyone is working towards the same goal.
Do you have any other tips for improving remote team performance? Let us know in the comments below!
Irwin is the 13-year Founder of Chromatix, an award-winning web conversion design agency based in Melbourne, Australia – as well as the newly opened Neon Bright, a specialist conversion copywriting agency for high-end websites. Since 2009, he has gone on to amass over 80+ industry awards and mentions for his agency work. Alongside running a busy digital agency, Irwin also works as a private business consultant and independent digital transformation strategist under his personal brand Irwin Hau.