How to Successfully Manage a Remote Team

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By: David Tile| @
Posted On: May 05, 2020

Managing a remote team can be tough, especially if you’ve been thrust into doing so because of the COVID-19 Crisis. When you manage a remote team, some of the challenges can include a lack accountability and a decrease in productivity when compared to an in-house team. There are ways around this. We spoke to a number of experts who manage remote teams to find out how to do it successfully.

Software is key when you manage a remote team

With some great technologies, you can still connect with your remote team as well as you did when you were face to face. Zoom, Google apps (like Docs, Photos, etc.), and other project management tools are great for keeping your employees accountable and connected.

“Use software that works for you and your team– Google suite apps have been key for the virtual collaboration on projects and keeping our team constantly connected.” – Georgette Pascale of Pascale Communications.

“The best way to keep everyone on the same page – literally – is to utilize a project-management app like Asana, Trello, Podio, or Teamwork. In doing so, you can assign tasks, upload and download documents, check in on due dates and completions, and leave a few words of encouragement when things get a little hectic. While you can leave messages on any of these platforms, Slack is also great for quick instant chats. Think about your favorite social messenger, and then add a few features to make it work perfectly for your business needs. That’s Slack.” Blake Sutton of Electrical Knowledge

Overall, you need trust to manage a remote team

Not trusting your employees and micro-managing them will have the opposite effect by making them less productive. Plus, hovering wastes your valuable time. Hire people you trust and who produce the results you want to see without you having to watch their every move.

“At the end of the day, it comes down to trust. We don’t keep tabs on our teammates who’ve proven themselves year over year. It’s mostly the first 6 months that require trust-building, and during that time frame we always establish concrete time-tracking rules with new employees.” – Tyler Weitzman of BlackSMS.

“The first big struggle is that you can’t see your team. There’s a low-level fear that if you aren’t watching them, then they aren’t working. It’s a false fear, totally groundless and productivity reports show that. It is still there when you first change, and doesn’t go away until you have tested it for yourself.” – Morgan Taylor of LetMeBank

Give tools to help them be productive

“We also encourage our remote team members to follow the 1 – 3 – 5 rule. That is, do 1 big thing, 3 medium things, and 5 small things. At the end of the day, this simple approach translates to fantastic productivity. It minimises the risk of wasted time on unnecessary tasks and ensures we all move forward together, even while apart.” – Alexander Porter of SearchitLocal

Talk often

Your remote team may be lacking the direction they get from being in the office. Speaking regularly and having brainstorming sessions and other meetings is one of the keys to ensuring everyone has what they need.

“We realized things weren’t operating quite right pretty quickly. The team seemed less energized and there were inefficiencies happening due to miscommunications. In response, we increased our scheduled meeting time per week by 300%. Sounds insane, right? It worked wonders. We’ve always had one 1-hour Monday meeting every single week, but we added in 45 minutes of huddles every week, Tuesday through Friday. These are a series of short morning meetings where functional and cross-functional groups get aligned on priorities and roadblocks. I would estimate this has increased productivity by at least 30%. Plus, it’s kept the team integrated on a personal level, which is immeasurable.” – Maddi Salmon of ReviewHomeWarranties

“There is a certain amount of inspiration and brainstorming that benefits from working together, and bouncing ideas of each other. It’s hard to bounce an idea off a Zoom webcam. That being said, we’re working on overcoming that by coordinating smaller meetings and group calls, so that everyone has a chance to speak, and have their voice and ideas be heard.” Flynn Zaiger of Online Optimism.

“Everyone will feel much more connected if they can see their co-workers discuss projects or even engage in a little impromptu brainstorming. It will make each team member feel more comfortable when collaborating together or reaching out for questions in these uncertain times.” Angela Ash of Mailbird.

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Seems easy, right? 

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For example, our client, Dr. Nitin Desai, approached our strategy team to create content to promote his COVID Pre-Check app. His innovative software is intended to help employers ensure their employees who enter the office are COVID-free, providing a safe environment by eliminating the chance of spread. 

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