Do you have a remote team? If you do, you know that they are only as productive as your ability to manage them. And let’s face it, losing track of your remote team or managing ineffectively is pretty easy to do. In 2014, our company decided to jump on the wave of remote working teams and go 100% virtual. We transferred completely from using local employees in our office in Santa Clarita to working remotely with teams spread throughout the U.S., Colombia and Pakistan.
We gained an incredible number of advantages, such as improving the quality of the talent and gaining flexibility. But it also took years to experience enough failures and mistakes to course correct and learn what not to do. In this article, we’ll go over three remote working mistakes most companies make (and tips for avoiding them).
Not Properly Managing Your Remote Team’s Performance
Your remote workforce still needs motivation, and scheduling performance checkups has value when it comes to efficiency. Performance management strategies include:
- Daily touch points: Daily touch points with your remote team let them know you are interested how their work is going, and it also signals to them that they have a support channel in place. Mondays are perfect for touch points.
- Weekly feedback: Feedback is important, even more so for remote teams. If weekly feedback is not part of your remote management strategy, start this week. It allows you to offer insight, encourage hard work, lay the groundwork for brainstorming sessions, and put transparency in place. Friday feedback sessions might be a good route to explore.
- Quarterly reviews: Want to develop and nurture a powerful remote team? Having quarterly performance reviews will facilitate just that. Like any great manager, giving all team members an in-depth review is valuable for personnel and the company as a whole.
- Weekly/monthly teleconferences: One of the best remote team management strategies you can employ is making the team not feel so remote. Holding weekly or monthly teleconferences creates synergy amongst the entire team, in and out of office. It also serves as a perfect opportunity to brainstorm new ideas for that virtual whiteboard.
At our company, we have weekly check-ins with each team and a company-wide meeting on Friday where all teams connect and provide feedback to everyone else.
Not Delivering Clear Expectations
If you fail to communicate your expectations effectively, you are doing a big disservice to your remote team. The productivity, efficiency, and deadlines of your remote workforce can only be successful if you have clear, concise instructions in place.
Remote work can sometimes be less structured than the traditional goings-on of an office, but it certainly doesn’t need to be. By having clear expectations in place, your remote team, regardless of location or time zone, will have the structure and best practices to be successful. Set clear expectations during onboarding, and continue the conversation. Performance management is handy here. Expectations of your remote team should include:
- Weekly task deadlines, where to find those tasks, and team members who will assist
- Manageable monthly/quarterly goals to surpass
- Developing a sense of project ownership
- Clear company support structure for questions, problem-solving and any remote issues
- Time commitment for the week
- An available and reachable higher echelon of support (i.e. you)
- A contact tree with all team members, their positions, and contact information (emails, Skype accounts, phone numbers, company messaging system, etc.)
Our project management team is in charge or running daily reports tracking deliverables and working with all team members to make sure all tasks are current and goals are being met.
Not Using Platforms for Remote Workflow
Do you want to improve all of the above? Finding workflow platforms that fit well with your remote team is the answer. These platforms will make the tasks and projects your remote team does seamless with the rest of your company. The best part is that you don’t need to use just one platform. There are a variety of workflow platforms and apps that will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of your remote team. And it certainly doesn’t need to be one single platform. Consider streamlining your remote workflow with one of the following:
- Microsoft OneNote
- Google Drive
Utilizing online workflow tools is certainly a powerful way to keep tasks and projects moving forward, especially for your remote team. However, it is vital to keep an open line of communication with them as well. This can be a major pitfall in any remote managing strategy. Managing your remote team with communication at the heart means:
- Getting face time: Google Hangout, Skype and WebEx are excellent tools to connect with your remote team. You can even get screensharing up and running for in-depth online meetings.
- Making it social: Social networking platforms you can utilize for more social management include IGLOO, MangoApps, FaceTime and Yammer. These are also great for when you need to be mobile.
Not finding the right potential candidates in your local talent pool? Establishing an efficient remote workforce could be the answer. You could even leverage working from home as a way to boost your bottom line. Let’s not forget that the workforce of the future wants to be mobile, and you can meet that demand with a streamlined remote management. It’s the office of tomorrow, but you can get started today.