May 13, 2015

7 Proven Methods of Managing Remote Teams

Virtual teams have become an indispensable part of the present workforce, cutting down the old assumptions of working altogether in a physical office. The power and opportunities of being virtually connected in today's technology-driven world are incredible!
However, still many companies and organizations fail to collaborate effectively with their geographically dispersed employees.
7 Proven Methods of Managing Remote Teams: eAskme
7 Proven Methods of Managing Remote Teams: eAskme

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

Further, bonuses in the form of extra pay will motivate your staff and show that you care and recognize their efforts as a manager.  You can try out apps such as iappreciate and GiveAWow to dole out virtual pats on their backs.

2. Keep communication open:

A significant 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 cannot interact simultaneously.

In a study conducted by 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. 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 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 focused on fundamental theories, concepts and issues.

A series of questions that challenge the accuracy and integrity of thinking 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 working with your remote team on a project, make sure you empower them to work with maximum flexibility and minimum constraints. This type of work proves to be transformational as it helps companies deliver the 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 particular objective. Before beginning with a sprint, the responsible team analyzes the tasks and sets the completion time. This time should fall within the time set for the sprint. Once the sprint is complete, you have 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 multi-source feedback, this method derives results 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 from far-away employees and use it for evaluation purposes, including growth and promotion of an employee.

6. Measure output, not the processes:

As salespersons in a company have daily targets, you should set regular goals and targets for your team members. Managing by objectives gives you an excellent opportunity to evaluate their performance based on the targets assigned to them. Moreover, knowing that their performance will be evaluated based on output, remote employees are 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 outcome. With the right tools in hand, you and your remote team can stay more productive and effective. Having unreliable infrastructure might hamper the team's communication, and if remote teams cannot communicate, things will undoubtedly mess up. From the file, sharing to chat, and most importantly, a solid Internet connection forms the most critical pieces of infrastructure for remote teams.

If 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 hurt their work morale. So make sure their resource availability questions are heard and addressed.


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 have any questions or suggestions, feel free to ask me.
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