More than half of hiring managers say that remote workers have become more common compared to just three years ago, according to Upwork’s Future Workforce Report. What’s more, hiring managers predict that 38% of their full-time employees will work remotely within the next 10 years. The trends are crystal clear, but how to face challenges when it comes to managing a remote team? Let’s find out!
Allowing employees to work remotely has its advantages. A remote policy allows businesses to recruit grade-A talents outside the confines of their geographical location. The State of Remote Work 2019 found out that 83% of survey respondents agree that working remotely would make them happier, and they are more likely to stay in their current job for the next 5 years, compared to onsite workers.
However, building an effective and productive community of remote workers has its own set of unique challenges. With employees spread out all around the country or world, and without a single space to commune in, you have to level up your management skills.
If you’re struggling to build a community among your remote team, use these five rules to bring everyone together and ensure productivity.
1. Keep Remote Workers Engaged & Involved
One of the biggest pitfalls of working remotely is the lack of social interaction and personal connection with co-workers. When managing a remote workforce, it’s important to take every opportunity to foster connections between remote and onsite employees.
According to a study conducted by the Harvard Business Review, 46% of remote employees said that the most effective managers checked in frequently and regularly with remote employees. Make sure to contact with remote employees daily and conduct weekly team meetings. Also, encourage collaboration between remote and onsite co-workers using messaging tools, so communication is easier and happens much often.
2. Host Better Virtual Meetings
Virtual meetings aren’t always valuable. Without the right technology (like video conferencing tools that are easy to access and use) and processes, team members get left out, and everyone’s time is wasted. To get your team meetings on track, consider the three things you can do and the three things to avoid in your virtual meetings:
It is salient not to:
Forget about time zones;
Distract others with background noise;
Focus solely on work (make some time for personal conversation).
But always make sure you:
Prepared a digital agenda;
Designate clear notes;
Using these guidelines, you can ensure every meeting is effective and timely. Find a routine that works best for your team and be vigilant about implementing it.
3. Set Clear Expectations & Goals
It’s easier to hold onsite employees accountable and gain a sense of the time they spend working when you can check-in throughout the day. With remote team members, you need to place more of an emphasis on expectations and goals, which keeps everyone on track, even if you can’t see them in person.
Cord Himelstein of HALO Recognition suggests taking the following three steps:
Set remote office hours and email boundaries. Himelstein says, “Don’t be afraid to set email deadlines and ask them to stay aligned with actual office hours. You’d be surprised at how simple a conversation is as long as you bring it up beforehand.”
Design an accountability structure. Be clear about daily, weekly, and project-based expectations, along with what success looks like and how they can hold themselves accountable.
Schedule weekly check-ins. Provide support to employees as they work toward personal and team goals by getting one-on-one meetings every week. Himelstein says the four questions you should always ask are:
- What are you working on?
- Are you facing any challenges?
- How can I help?
- How is everything else?
4. Provide Regular Feedback
It can be hard for remote workers to know if they meet the expectations. If you’re not in an office together, they don’t always get those quick assurances like, “Great job!” or “Looking forward to your finished project!”
While weekly check-ins provide an opportunity to give this feedback, it might be easy to overlook. Not to mention, it’s easy to put off giving feedback until annual reviews come around.
The problem is, 94% of employees want their managers to address mistakes or opportunities to learn something in real-time. Giving feedback regularly is key to keeping employees happy. If you can’t provide feedback to your staff while getting coffee or getting ready for the next meeting, set time aside each week to do so, whether it’s during your break or another meeting.
5. Bring the Remote Team Together
Whether it’s once a year or once a quarter, invite your remote employees to the office for an on-site visit. This gives team members the opportunity to interact face-to-face with co-workers and build meaningful connections. David Brown, Founder of TechStars, explains how they bring their remote staff together each year:
Don’t get me wrong – relying on tools to stay connected and organized is definitely important. But there’s nothing more valuable than getting the entire company together for an all-company meeting. At Techstars, we just finished hosting our sixth annual StaffCon event. We brought together the entire global team of 209 people in one place to help show our incredible staff how much we appreciate them and remind them of the reason behind our mission to help entrepreneurs succeed.
To make the most of this time together, Brown says they scheduled small group dinners:
For these dinners, we deliberately choose the groups at random so that employees have the opportunity to connect and interact with people that they don’t normally get the chance to.
They also had fun with their annual company update, hosting a “talk show” and giving their employees awards during the “commercials.”
Get your team together as often as you can and have fun with it! Give everyone a chance to get to know one another, so they go home feeling more connected than before.
Create a Better Remote Team Community
Use these simple yet powerful ideas to create a stronger remote community among your team members. It’s not always easy to create opportunities for connection and provide real-time feedback, so get intentional about how you manage your team. You may find out everyone is happier and more productive as a result.
Jessica Thiefels is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications including Forbes and FastCompany. She also writes for Business Insider, Score, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.