Challenges of Managing a Remote Team
The way we conduct business and work has drastically changed over the past couple of years. Remote work has become increasingly common in recent years, and challenges related to remote work have also arisen alongside these developments.
Remote work has a positive impact on the employees’ productivity and job satisfaction scores, and even increases the business’ bottom line.
Despite the advantages, remote teams find it challenging to collaborate and move the company in one direction.
We have highlighted some of the most common challenges related to overseeing remote employees and the best practices and useful tips that will help you resolve them. Satisfied remote employees make for productive workers.
Each company is faced with its own unique challenges when it comes to managing remote teams and the solutions have to be tailored keeping in mind the employees’ needs. However, a few challenges still occur consistently across many types of organizations with remote workers.
Let’s examine some of these common challenges and the ways you can overcome them.
With a remote workforce, you can connect with professionals from all over the country and the globe. But when you hire the best talent from around the world, you’re likely to find people living in different time zones. Because remote teams offer round-the-clock services, most companies prefer outsourcing their work.
For example, hiring an in-house developer is expensive if you are an IT company. If you outsource, you can find services at comparatively competitive salaries. The amount you need to pay for a Revature software developer salary is highly competitive based on market data and their service matches that of the leading development teams in the world.
Straddling different time zones, remote workers can be far more effective. Customer service teams, for example, can offer round-the-clock support, depending on their location. At their shift’s end, employees from one location can hand over the reins to those logging in from other locations.
However, if you’re having issues managing differences in time zones of your remote employees, then you don’t need to worry. You can use various collaboration tools to make managing a breeze.
Similarly, you can hold and record all critical meetings, so that none of your employees can miss them in case they weren’t available.
A Lack of Communication
Communication is crucial to the success of remote teams. To work collaboratively, each team member needs to be aware of what the other is doing at any given time. It is easier to lose sight of the bigger picture once you are working remotely. If members of a remote team don’t communicate on a regular basis, they won’t be able to work toward their goals.
A dedicated workspace for your team can ease communication challenges for your team which has to keep close lines of communication. Video conferencing services, like Skype or Zoom, provide the solution to our issues of team meetings.
However, other than work-related conversations, having casual non-work-related conversations between employees is also vital for creating a positive, harmonious, and friendly work environment.
You can also look into arranging an online watercooler (virtual non-work-related gossiping space), which can help your employees interact outside of work-related matters. Slack is a great tool that can be used to maintain good communication within teams.
Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what software you choose. Just encourage across-the-board communication within your team, so your remote team members still feel themselves as part of the company culture.
Establishing Accountability and Trust
Managers often have accountability and productivity-related concerns regarding remote teams. The prominent concern is that employees might start slacking on their work when working remotely.
However, these concerns are unfounded. The Future Workforce Pulse Report found that hiring managers noticed increased productivity as a result of letting employees work flexible hours, having lesser meetings, and removing the need to commute.
As with any team, the key is to strike a balance between effective oversight and overbearing vigilance.
Micromanagement is detrimental to productivity: If you continually check-in without a real reason, you’ll impede efficiency. Efficient workers thrive when they are given more autonomy, while intrusive interjections can stifle their creative or individual output.
In contrast, you should ensure your team knows:
- About the clear deliverables and deadlines
- Project objectives
- Timely payments
The Absence of Direct Contact
Getting to know others personally is among the most enjoyable aspects of working from office. Unfortunately, remote employees, working in different time zones and from diverse regions, find it hard to establish the same rapport as in-office employees.
It may not be easy to arrange, but whenever possible, try to get remote employees together on a regular basis so they can meet their coworkers in person. If you have remote employees on a full-time basis, you might consider organizing something like an annual meeting abroad.
Team members will come to think of it as an incentive and a reward, and it’s definitely not just your run-of-the-mill holiday. Getting everyone together is a great way to accomplish some essential tasks – as long as you allow them enough time to enjoy each other’s company.
Another great way to achieve rapport is by arranging virtual parties every month. You can gather your remote team virtually to watch a movie, or even play online games. In fact, studies show that engaging in such team-building activities significantly improves the productivity of the employees.
Successfully managing remote teams can yield tremendous benefits for your company. Overcoming the challenges along the way will take time, practice, and dedication. The expectation that every new idea or system you implement will work right away is unrealistic. It is in your best interest to remain committed to seeking out solutions to any problems your remote team might encounter.
Consider a remote employee’s perspective, discuss their issues, and decide how best to proceed. You will boost your chances of overcoming any challenge by involving your remote team in decision-making. At the end of the day, results matter, and if your remote team is delivering, that’s all that counts.