What Advice Can Enhance Effective Management of Remote Teams?


    What Advice Can Enhance Effective Management of Remote Teams?

    In the age of remote work, even the most seasoned leaders can encounter snags, so we've gathered insights from eight experienced professionals, including HR consultants and CEOs. Their advice ranges from investing in core human needs to creating a predictable team rhythm. Dive into the collective wisdom of these top executives to foster successful and productive remote teams.

    • Invest in Human Needs
    • Establish a Virtual Office Space
    • Implement a Public Company-Wide Scorecard
    • Balance Trust with Accountability
    • Prioritize Communication and Transparency
    • Encourage Focus Blocks for Uninterrupted Work
    • Acknowledge Team Members Individually
    • Create a Predictable Team Rhythm

    Invest in Human Needs

    For anyone struggling to effectively manage a remote team, keep in mind that remote employees have the same human needs as in-person employees.

    Consider this: 1) Remote employees need to be clear on job expectations, 2) they need to be connected to others and have seamless communication with co-workers, and 3) they need the ability to collaborate as needed to keep work flowing smoothly.

    When working together in person, meeting these three basic needs is simply easier because leaders and their team members work in reasonable proximity and can interact easily—it happens almost without thinking. Leading a successful remote team, however, requires that leaders cultivate clarity, manufacture connection, and enhance collaboration on purpose. To do this, time must be invested in creating standard policies and operating procedures, establishing and actively revisiting clear job descriptions and accountabilities (goals), and nurturing opportunities for remote team members to get to know one another and build their workplace relationships.

    Remote teams whose members have great relationships, which is a key to success in any job, spend time together each week checking in one-on-one, casually working together in a virtual co-working environment, and are able to touch base with each other at a moment's notice—often without a scheduled meeting in place. Leaders who focus on meeting their remote workers' human connection and communication needs will be successful!

    Niki Ramirez
    Niki RamirezFounder & Principal Consultant, HRAnswers.org

    Establish a Virtual Office Space

    One piece of advice I'd offer is to prioritize communication and connection. In my experience, managing remote teams effectively often hinges on fostering a strong sense of camaraderie and alignment. Daily team calls are a great start, but consider taking it a step further by establishing a virtual office space—a dedicated, always-open call where team members can pop in and out freely. This creates an informal setting akin to a physical office environment, encouraging spontaneous collaboration and impromptu discussions.

    I remember a time when my remote team struggled with feeling disconnected, despite our regular calls. We introduced a virtual office call, and it made a significant difference. Team members felt more connected and engaged, leading to increased productivity and morale.

    Encourage team members to use this space not just for work-related discussions but also for casual chats and water cooler conversations. It helps recreate the social aspect of being in an office, which is vital for building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging, especially in remote settings.

    By prioritizing daily communication and creating a virtual office environment, you can strengthen team bonds, improve collaboration, and ultimately enhance the effectiveness of remote team management.

    Jayen Ashar
    Jayen AsharCTO, Scaleup Consulting

    Implement a Public Company-Wide Scorecard

    In managing my team remotely, I found it essential to use a scorecard to track our performance based on quarterly and annual operating plans. For example, we establish how many new applications we need weekly to achieve our goals and monitor our progress. We determine the key leading indicators that help us reach our annual goals, generally the metrics we track on our public scorecard. Metrics such as the number of new applications, client activations, and client retention are critical in our business.

    We input the data into our company-wide scorecard that all employees have access to, and our teams review it weekly in our regularly scheduled video conferencing one-on-one, entire team, and leadership meetings. We review and adjust each quarter as needed to achieve our annual goals.

    Having the numbers on the scorecard broken down annually, quarterly, monthly, and weekly helps us see what's happening in the business. Publicizing all the numbers also creates a sense of community awareness of our strengths and weaknesses. That allows for faster, more collaborative problem-solving.

    We measure what matters most. Everyone reports their own numbers, which we share. Then, I pay bonuses when we reach our goals.

    Shane Hurley
    Shane HurleyCEO, RedFynn Technologies

    Balance Trust with Accountability

    One key issue when managing remote teams is trust. It's a difficult balance to strike; monitoring productivity in an overzealous way can be demotivating and have the opposite effect.

    Equally, allowing staff to do their jobs without accountability can lead to underperformance and inefficiencies.

    The right balance usually involves actions and consequences. However you choose to monitor staff activity, ensure that there are stepped consequences for employees who are not fulfilling their end of the bargain.

    A clearly defined process sets expectations from the moment staff walk through the door.

    Craig Bird
    Craig BirdManaging Director, CloudTech24

    Prioritize Communication and Transparency

    One piece of advice I would offer to someone managing remote teams is to establish clear and frequent communication. In the remote work environment, the absence of physical presence can lead to misunderstandings and a sense of isolation among team members. To counter this, it's critical to set up regular check-ins and ensure that communication channels are open and accessible to everyone. This doesn't just mean scheduling daily or weekly meetings, but also being available to answer questions and provide feedback in a timely manner.

    Additionally, collaborative tools should be used effectively to maintain transparency. Tools like project management software, shared calendars, and real-time document collaboration can help everyone stay on the same page and see what others are working on. This visibility promotes a sense of community and teamwork, even when team members are geographically dispersed.

    By prioritizing communication and using the right tools to maintain transparency, you can create a productive and cohesive remote work environment. These practices help in building trust and accountability, which are crucial for the success of any team, especially one that operates remotely.

    Jason Vaught
    Jason VaughtPresident, Houston SEO Company

    Encourage Focus Blocks for Uninterrupted Work

    As a remote-first company, we discovered that a key aspect of managing remote teams effectively was to schedule regular meetings, like a daily stand-up, planning sessions, and retrospectives, but also to give employees space for focused work. To achieve this, we encourage employees to schedule focus blocks on their calendar to ensure they aren't interrupted when doing deep work. Then, we sync these calendar time slots with our workspace chat tool to automatically enable 'do not disturb' mode during the scheduled focus slots. This ensures that team members can still message someone who is doing deep work, but they understand that they won't receive an immediate response.

    Ben Bozzay
    Ben BozzayFounder & Senior Fullstack Developer, Tech Lockdown

    Acknowledge Team Members Individually

    So, here's my two cents as a tech CEO managing remote teams: You cannot ignore the power of individual recognition. Notice their achievements on a personal level, and remember, it's not always about work. Acknowledge milestones, birthdays, or even a new pet; it makes them feel seen and valued. This boosts self-worth and motivation, which ultimately reflects in their productivity. In a remote environment, they aren't just 'logins' on a computer; they are real people, desiring meaningful connections.

    Abid Salahi
    Abid SalahiCo-founder & CEO, FinlyWealth

    Create a Predictable Team Rhythm

    Aim for a predictable rhythm for your remote team. Schedule meetings at set times that work across locations, and embrace asynchronous communication tools. Set clear expectations, and respect time zones to keep everyone informed, productive, and connected. This structure fosters a strong sense of collaboration despite the distance.

    Faizan Khan
    Faizan KhanPublic Relations and Content Marketing Specialist, Ubuy Australia