A Manager’s Guide To Managing A Remote Team

A Manager’s Guide To Managing A Remote Team _ MediaOne Marketing Singapore

The proliferation of technology has made it easier for companies to hire and manage remote teams

However, leading a remote team can present its unique challenges. 

As a manager, it’s essential to have the right tools, strategies, and approaches to communicate and manage your remote team, regardless of location, effectively.

In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know as a manager to lead a remote team successfully.

We’ll discuss the benefits and challenges of remote work and how to set your team up for success by choosing the right communication tools and establishing clear guidelines and expectations. 

We’ll also delve into effective communication strategies and techniques for remote teams, as well as strategies for boosting productivity and maintaining team culture and engagement.

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The Benefits and Challenges of Remote Work

Remote work offers a level of flexibility and autonomy that can be highly appealing and allow companies to tap into a wider pool of talent. 

However, it’s crucial to be aware of both the benefits and challenges of remote work.

Benefits of Working Remotely

Benefits of Working Remotely | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Some of the benefits of remote work include the following:

1. Increased Productivity 

A study by Stanford University found that remote workers were more productive than their in-office counterparts. The study showed that there was a 13% performance increase among those people who were working from home. 

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The reason was that remote workers took fewer breaks and sick days, thus leading to a 9% increase in working more minutes per shift. 

All of this happens due to various factors, such as a lack of distractions and the ability to work in a comfortable environment.

2. Cost Savings

A great benefit for companies with remote workers is that they can save on overhead costs such as rent, utilities, and office supplies by having a remote workforce.

3. Increased Retention

Allowing employees to work remotely can increase job satisfaction and increases retention rates.

4. Greater Flexibility

Remote work gives employees a better work-life balance, as they can often choose their schedules and locations independently.

Challenges of Remote Work

However, there are also challenges to consider when it comes to remote work:

1. Communication Barriers

Communicating and collaborating with a remote team can be more challenging, as there is no in-person interaction.

2. Isolation

Remote workers may feel isolated and disconnected from their colleagues and the company culture.

3. Technical Issues

Technical challenges like connectivity issues and using specific tools and software can exist.

4. Time Zone Differences

If your team is spread out across different time zones, it can be challenging to coordinate meetings and communication.

Setting Up Your Remote Team for Success As a Manager

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Choosing the right communication tools and establishing clear guidelines and expectations are essential to set your remote team up for success.

1. Choosing the Right Communication Tools

Various communication tools are available to facilitate effective communication with your remote team. Some popular options include:

  • Video conferencing tools: Tools such as Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet, allow you to have face-to-face meetings with your team, even if you’re not in the exact location.
  • Project management tools: Tools such as Asana, Trello, and Basecamp allow you to track progress, assign tasks, and collaborate with your team in real-time

2. Establishing Clear Guidelines and Expectations

Establishing clear guidelines and expectations for your remote team to ensure everyone is on the same page is essential. This can include things such as:

  • Communication protocols: Establish how and when team members should communicate with each other and with you as the manager. This can include using certain channels for urgent matters or setting specific times for check-ins.
  • Work schedules: Set expectations for when team members should be available and working, as well as any required overlap with other time zones.
  • Responsibilities and roles: Clearly outline the responsibilities and roles of each team member to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them.
  • Goals and objectives: Set specific, measurable goals and objectives for your team. This helps keep everyone focused and motivated.

3. Providing the Necessary Resources and Support

For your remote team to be successful, it’s crucial to provide them with the necessary resources and support. This can include things like:

  • Adequate training: Ensure your team has the necessary training and resources to do their job effectively.
  • The right tools: Provide your team with the tools and software they need to do their job, such as a reliable computer and the necessary software programs.
  • Support and guidance: Be available to provide support and guidance to your team as needed. This can include things like regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings.

Effective Communication Strategies for Managing Remote Teams

Effective Communication Strategies for Managing Remote Teams | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Effective communication is vital for the success of any team, but it can be particularly challenging when it comes to managing a remote team. 

Without the benefit of in-person interaction, it can be demanding to ensure everyone is on the same page and that any issues or concerns are addressed promptly. 

However, with the right strategies in place, it is possible to overcome the communication barriers of remote work and foster clear and concise communication with your team.

1. Use Screen Sharing To Collaborate

Screen sharing is a great way to collaborate with your team.

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Your remote team can show you what they are working on, and you can give feedback and suggestions.

It’s also an excellent way to demonstrate how to do something and train when working remotely.

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2. Ask For Feedback Often

As a leader, you must ask for feedback from your team members. 

Asking for feedback is a two-way street and should be done frequently but not overbearingly. You must also get feedback from your team on how they are doing individually and as team member. 

It may seem scary to hear or give negative feedback, but it’s imperative because it helps you improve your management skills even further. 

If someone has something negative to say about something in particular or about the way you run meetings or interact with others in general, take this information into account and use it as an opportunity to get better, either by changing what needs improvement or learning from their criticism about how to handle similar situations in the future.

3. Prioritize Communication via Email 

Prioritize Communication via Email | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

Email and messaging apps are the best way to communicate with a remote team. 

Email is more efficient than instant messaging, as it allows for the organization and prioritization of messages. Email also has the advantage of being easily searchable, unlike chat history or other similar apps. 

When you’re communicating with a group of people spread across different time zones, email is the most reliable form of communication. If one person misses a message in chat or doesn’t see something posted on Slack (a popular team-messaging app), it’s easy for them to miss an important update. 

The constant flow of information will help keep everyone connected even when they’re not working together in person.

4. Use a Project Management System

Set up a robust project management system. This will help you track who is doing what and give everyone on your team the ability to see where things are at in their work and how far along they are.

Many options exist for this type of system, including Asana and Trello. You could even use simple Google Docs or Drive to keep track of things! 

You’ll want to pick something that works for everyone and make sure it’s easy to access from anywhere so that anyone can see where they stand at any given time.

5. Give Virtual Team Members Thank-You Gifts

It’s easy to forget that your team members are not all in the same city or country. If you have a remote team, thank them regularly for their hard work and effort.

You can do this by setting up a time once per week to video chat with each virtual team member. During these times, thank them for their efforts and explain how much it means to you that they are working with you on your project. Remember, these are people just like any other employee. 

They want to feel appreciated!

6. Don’t Forget The Casual Chats and Jokes

Don't Forget The Casual Chats and Jokes | MediaOne Marketing Singapore

It’s essential to chat casually with your remote team, even if it’s just for a few minutes each week. 

Casual chats are vital because they help build connections and relationships between people. They also create opportunities for team members to share what they care about, which helps you understand their interests and values so you can better support them in their work on the team.

Jokes are also an essential part of communication with your remote teams. They help break the ice when people meet each other for the first time or when working together for the first time after some time apart. 

It’s okay if some jokes don’t land or aren’t funny. That’s all part of the learning process! 

Jokes also help build trust between team members as long as everyone is comfortable enough around each other (and around joking) that it won’t cause any harm or embarrassment if someone doesn’t think something is funny.

Managing Remote Team Productivity

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One of the key challenges of managing a remote team is ensuring that everyone stays productive and on track. 

Manager needs to be a leader and if you have ever been through leadership training courses, managers are supposed to hone their managerial skills and better meet the expectations of leading a team, whether it be in-office or remote. 

Here are some strategies you can utilize as a leader for boosting the productivity of your remote team:

1. Set Measurable Goals and Objectives

Setting specific goals and objectives can help keep your team focused and motivated. Make sure to review and assess progress towards these goals regularly.

2. Hire an Assistant

Hiring an assistant is one of the best ways to increase productivity and keep everything running smoothly. 

Having a dedicated person who specializes in leaving you alone so you can focus on what’s most important will save you time and help prevent frustration from taking over when things start piling up. 

As with any new hire, there are some things to keep in mind when hiring an assistant:

  • What do they need from me? 
  • Do their skills align with my needs? 
  • Are they looking for experience? 
  • How much money am I willing to spend? 

The person’s motivation for this job should be considered before deciding whether or not they’re suitable for the position.

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Can I trust someone else with my life’s work? 

Decide if it would be better for them to have access only while they’re working on projects related directly back towards helping out at home vs having free reign over all areas of your life (like personal finances).

Consider giving them limited access until you’ve established trust through working together successfully.

3. Schedule Breaks

In addition to allowing more frequent breaks, it’s important to schedule them. 

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Breaks should be long enough for people to get away from their desks and have time to relax without work distractions. The amount of time you need depends on what type of job your remote team members do. 

For example, if they are on the phone or have many meetings scheduled throughout the day, they will probably need more frequent breaks than someone who works at a desk without any other interruptions.

Also, consider whether your company’s culture is conducive to taking breaks, do employees feel like they can take breaks when needed?

If not, try scheduling regular meetings at which different teams discuss strategies for improving communication and collaboration (which will also help everyone become more productive).

4. Foster a Sense of Accountability and Ownership

Encourage your team to take ownership of their work and hold themselves accountable for meeting deadlines and goals.

5. Host Kick-Off Meetings

Kick-off meetings are a great way to give remote team members an overview of who they’re working with and how they can best contribute.

These sessions should happen at the start of each project or task, so everyone can get oriented before diving in.

To prepare for kick-off meetings:

Determine what information needs to be covered in the meeting. You might want to cover things like:

  • What does the current status of the project look like?
  • What kind of tasks will your team be working on? Are there any specific goals you need them to achieve?
  • Who are their teammates, and what roles do they play in this project?

6. Utilize Productivity Tools and Techniques

Various tools and techniques can help boost productivity, such as time-tracking software, task management tools, and the Pomodoro Technique.

7. Schedule Check-ins

Check-ins are a great way to ensure everyone is feeling productive and on track, and they can also help foster a sense of community among the team. For this reason, these check-ins must be frequent and short. 

The goal is not to have long meetings about what you’ve done or haven’t done during the week but to check in with the other members of your remote team to see how things are going.

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If you have an employee struggling with productivity, it may be beneficial for them to participate in more frequent check-ins so that they don’t fall further behind than necessary.

However, if everyone else seems like they’re keeping up with their responsibilities well enough, then there’s no need for daily meetings; just once a week should suffice (although at least once per month would be ideal). 

A good rule of thumb is that if someone has something positive to say about their progress this week (or even monthly), they should send an email letting everyone else know. This keeps morale high within the ranks while also giving each person some positive recognition for their work ethic!

8. Focus On Results Rather Than Micromanaging Time Spent Working

The key to successful remote management is helping your employees achieve their goals. 

It’s important not to be too concerned with how long they spend working on a task or how many hours they are in the office.

The best thing you can do is focus on what they achieve and ensure that everyone knows their goals, which they must report to, and what success looks like.

Maintaining Team Culture and Engagement While Working Remotely

Maintaining team culture and engagement can be particularly challenging for remote teams. 

Here are some strategies for building and maintaining team connections and promoting work-life balance and well-being:

  • Build team connections: Make an effort to connect personally with your team members. This can include virtual team-building activities, regular one-on-one meetings, and informal communication channels like chat groups or forums.
  • Promote work-life balance: Encourage your team to prioritize work-life balance and well-being. This can include flexible scheduling, time off, and resources for managing stress and maintaining mental health.
  • Encourage team collaboration and feedback: Encourage your team to collaborate and give feedback on projects and processes. This helps foster a sense of ownership and engagement.

Final Say, 

Remote teams can be more efficient, productive, creative, and flexible than in-office teams.

But only if you set them up for success! The tools and methodologies you use to stay connected and motivated are the difference between remote work being a pain or an incredible experience. 

And how do you keep everyone motivated when they don’t see each other every day?

Simple — give employees accountability through regular check-ins (like weekly team meetings), occasional group outings (like happy hours), and one-on-one time with their managers/mentors/coaches/direct reports regularly.

About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.

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