7 Proven Methods of Managing Remote Teams

Cutting down the old assumptions of working altogether in a physical office, virtual teams have become an indispensable part of present workforce. The power and opportunities of being virtually connected in today's technology driven world are really amazing! However, still many companies and organizations fail to collaborate effectively with their geographically dispersed employees. The question comes out to be - Is there any art or science behind building and  managing remote teams? 

Running a company with virtual employees not only demands efficient management skills, but a lot more than that. So let’s take a look at the best remote collaboration and management practices:

1. Digital employee recognition programs 

The importance of employee reward system should never be neglected, especially when even you and your team connects through a virtual world. As employees in a physical office are awarded for their good performance, same should be done for the remote workers. Company perks in the form of digital badging or e-gifts seem to be quite cost-effective plus you’ve the advantage to customize them according to your company culture. 

Further, bonuses in the form of extra pay will not only motivate your staff but also show that you as a manager care and recognize their efforts. You can try out apps such as iappreciate  and GiveAWow to dole out virtual pats on their backs.

2. Keep communication open
A major issue that has been reported between remote employees and regular office employees is that of the difference in their working shifts. Automatically, this difference creates a communication gap between the two teams as they are not able to interact during same time. 

In a study conducted by the MIT’s Human Dynamics laboratory, it was found that - "With remarkable consistency, the data confirmed that communication indeed plays a critical role in building successful teams. In fact, we've found patterns of communication to be the most important predictor of a team's success." 

A simple solution to this problem is to look out for some online collaboration platforms and chat services, so that teams can have real time conversations regardless of time and place. Also, tools for video calling and conferencing can help in bringing more harmony between the team members. Give ProofHub  a try! 

3. Instill Socratic coaching
At times, remote workers need to make decisions in tricky matters or in the absence of higher authorities or managers. To deal with such situations, employees must be given proper training such as socratic coaching. Being at the heart of critical thinking, this method is a systematic and disciplined approach that is focused on fundamental theories, concepts and issues. 

Through a series of questions that challenge accuracy and integrity of thinking, it lets one explore the contours of complex problems and acquire critical thinking skills. Your employees become aware of their competence and potential plus they get to know how to master future issues more successfully.

4. Agile working and management
While you’re working with your remote team on a project, make sure you empower them to work with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints. This type of working proves to be transformational as it helps companies to deliver best in value services including customer needs, cost reduction, increasing productivity and improving sustainability. Ultimately, it helps in attracting and retaining high quality talent and thus drives long term organizational success. 

Apart from inculcating Agile methodology in the working style, you can also encourage it in your work or projects. One of these methods is Agile management, in which the product development process can be divided into short sprints, with each sprint having its own particular objective. Before beginning with a sprint, the responsible team analyzes the tasks and sets completion time for the same. This time should fall within the time set for the sprint. Once the sprint is complete, you’ve a Minimum Viable Product, that should be ready to release and tested. The benefit of following this method is that it sets a timetable for the team, from one sprint to the next. 

5. Put ‘360 degree feedback’ into action
Also called as multi-source feedback, this method derives results by collecting feedback from an employee’s immediate work circle such as his subordinates, peers, and even from external sources such as clients. It is a good way for managers to collect feedback of far-away employees and use it for evaluation purposes including growth and promotion of an employee. 

6. Measure output, not the processes
As sales persons in a company have targets on daily basis, you should set regular goals and targets for your team members as well. Managing by objectives gives you a good opportunity to evaluate their performance on the basis of the targets assigned to them. Moreover, knowing that their performance will be evaluated on the basis of output, remote employees are also more likely to put in their full efforts. 

7. Equip apposite infrastructure
Right project infrastructure brings a whole lot of difference to its workflow and final outcome. With right tools in hand, you and your remote team can stay more productive and effective. Having unreliable infrastructure might hamper team’s communication, and if remote teams are not able to communicate, things will certainly mess up. From file sharing to chat, and most importantly a solid Internet connection forms the most important pieces of infrastructure for remote teams. 

In case your remote workers are addressing requests for tools they’d need to perform their job function, ensure that they have access to those resources. Dealing with complex IT issues can be frustrating and can have a negative impact on their work morale. So make sure their resource availability questions are heard and addressed.  

Final words....
Managing remote teams might seem to be a complex mission, but I hope these tactics along with your knowledge, expertise and efforts would help a lot. Do share with us what strategies you’ve employed to manage your geographically dispersed employees. 

If you do have any question, or suggestion, feel free to ask me, Don`t forget to like us on facebook and subscribe eAskme newsletter to get free updates.  

Author Bio-

Kanika Sharma works as a writer at ProofHub. For the past 2 years, she has been writing for various technology blogs. Being an engineering graduate, her background allows her to connect with cutting edge technologies and relate them with real world scenarios. She also likes to think and pen down her thoughts towards various facets of life. When she is not writing, she can be found in the abode of Himalayas, as exploring nature excites her the most. She is an early riser and loves to bask in the morning sun rays. Kanika also enjoys sketching, cooking, dancing and spending time with her family and folks. Her future plans include joining a writing community, a vacation in Paris and riding a white horse. Follow Kanika on Twitter to know more about her.