Managing a team is never easy, and when you have a diverse team scattered across the globe, the task becomes doubly difficult. Remote work culture has become an accepted norm in Covid times and ease of doing business due to the tech and digital tools now available make the transition possible.
The most common problems that are faced whilst managing a remote team are communication, different time zones, cultural and geographical differences and levels of engagement.
There are some important things that a manager or an organization needs to overcome these issues:
- The proper technical tools across board
- An empathetic culture
- Team building exercises
Earlier, with teams being physically present in an office, seeing a project through its various cycles was easy as the tasks could be allocated, tracked and evaluated easily. Any miscommunication or difficulties that occurred could be sorted and solved in-person.
But when teams are scattered, carrying out a task becomes difficult. Even if you have regular meetings where tasks are allocated and discussed, there are certain verbal and physical clues that are missing.
There are times when things are misinterpreted or fall through the cracks. So, more follow-throughs are needed to get the right message across.
The proper technical tools across board.
To get your team on the same page, just holding morning scrums is not enough. You need to employ certain technical apps that help you design, assign, track and co-ordinate the team.
It is imperative to determine the team’s needs and what apps and tools are suitable for the effective working of the team. It would help if you determined what your requirements are by asking some basic questions.
- How to centralize all critical chats in one place?
- Will screen sharing be needed consistently?
- How often do you have video calls?
- Does your team need collaborative tools?
- Do you need shared workspaces?
There are many tools and apps out there that facilitate working collaboratively — apps that you can use such as Trello, Slack and Notion.
Each team needs to find a work mode suitable to all the members.
It can be as simple as having a yearly goal plan that is broken down into half-yearly and quarterly achievement goals.
This can be the overall picture of what the team needs to cover for the whole year. But the real nitty gritty of the actual work can be handled through daily meetings and weekly task assignments.
These periodic meetings help keep managers on track. One can have daily short Skype calls. Remember to keep it short and small. If the team is big, then break it up into smaller groups of 3 to 4 people to communicate effectively. The goal isn’t to inundate with meetings, but to nail down focal areas to make the rest of our time more productive.
Four competencies make up a good remote team manager: empathy, organization, patience, and the ability to let go and trust the team.
Empathy is crucial for a team made up of geographically scattered areas. There are chances that people will feel disconnected and not understand tasks and instructions given remotely. This can affect productivity and raise costs. A good manager will try to sort out such issues sympathetically, giving more time n attentions whenever required.
Team building exercises
Managers need to think through “rules of engagement.” In order to leverage the process, the right tools need to be picked, so everyone knows what to expect.
Transitioning to full-time remote work doesn’t mean you lose the human aspect and camaraderie built up over the years. Even within the constraints of remote work, you can create a happy and engaging work atmosphere. Try to maintain the human touch in this distant way of working.
For starters, having a general chat or non-work-related channel can help team members unwind and hang out. Similarly, adding more depth to conversations by asking about other topics can significantly boost your team’s morale.