What is a remote team?
A remote team is a group of employees who are not geographically co-located. They work for their manager, but they can work from wherever.
Managing employees’ performance is already a tough job. Now, with many employees working at home, the pressure of that performance management seems bigger than ever. A successful remote team requires a specific management style that’s oriented to results as opposed to tasks.
If you're struggling yourself to WFH, read our blog on How to Work from Home for some helpful tips.
Positives of a Remote Team
- Eliminates the rush-hour drive because they don’t have to commute into the office. They save money because there are no travel expenses or other costs (like grabbing a coffee or lunch). These extra hours they save give employees a better work-life balance.
- Employees have more freedom as they’re not tied down to the office. If they need to visit a family member in another part of the country, or be at home to attend an appointment, they can do this and there’s no need to book time off.
- When employees are able to skip the long commute and extra coffee breaks, they’re more productive when working. There will also be fewer sick days as they’ll be keeping clear of other sick colleagues.
- Saves the business money as there’s no need for a big office, or an office at all! Not only will you be saving in rent but also bills and other expenses employees used on a daily when in the office.
Negatives of a Remote Team
- Without the luxury of quick chats and spontaneous interactions, your staff could begin to feel isolated, distracted, unmotivated and stressed. The lack of easy conversation and face-to-face communication can affect their performance at work.
- Your team members may be in different locations, meaning they’re in different time zones. Getting everyone to work together could be a struggle if they don’t follow the same working day as your other employees.
- If you’re hiring new employees, building relationships with the newbies tends to be more difficult when it’s virtual. There’s little time for personal interaction therefore the starter may not feel part of the team and struggle to get to grips with their role.
- Communication may be difficult as it’s not always possible to see body language, facial expressions, or other gestures. A sentence may be misinterpreted, and this could lead to giving the team a wrong idea about a task.
Improving Remote Team Performance
Working from home has become the new normal but not everyone was prepared to make the transition to remote working. According to a 2020 research study published by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), close to 71% of organisations are struggling to adapt to remote work.
Remote teams often require a far more sophisticated management style. It requires high levels of problem solving and innovation. There are obvious concerns with remote work such as a drop in productivity and lack of communication. There’s also worries about people’s bandwidth or other personal concerns. Here are a few suggestions on how you can improve your remote team performance…
In a recent survey conducted by FlexJobs, 54% of HR leaders indicated that poor technology is the biggest barrier to effective remote working. Check out this toolkit for improving remote team performance.
- Useful organisation tools such as Trello can provide you with a brief overview of the tasks assigned to you/your team. With better coordination your team will have increased productivity.
- Audio-to-text transcription can help to convert unstructured data into a structured format. You can convert your virtual meetings and client calls to written text without wasting your own time rewriting it all. These notes can help make informed decisions and help your employees comprehend the requirements.
- Storage platforms such as Dropbox or Google Drive are a necessity when working from home. Shared folders which allow your employees to access the same document in real time which leads to a smoother running of your business.
It may be difficult, but you need to learn to trust your employees. There’s no need to constantly monitor their every move and measure results regularly. You should have a flexible work environment where your employees can relax safe in the knowledge that they’re not being kept an eye on all the time.
It’s a good idea to schedule regular team meetings. Not only will this keep your employees from feeling isolated and unproductive, but it will also likely encourage the building of trust and a sense of community.
It’s important to remember that when working from home, communication is king.
Managers need to over-communicate to make sure their remote teams have all the information they need. The more communication received, the less likely the employee is to feel disconnected. It’s one of the most critical aspects of remote work. Each communication should be relevant and frequent.
Give Your Employees More Ownership of Tasks
It’s impossible to check every bit of your employees’ work. Remote working is an opportunity to see if your employees can be responsible for their own tasks. This will not only free up the time for the management, but it will also engage employees further in their tasks. You may also discover certain employees who may have leadership potential.
Focus on Constructive Feedback
Feedback needs to be given in the right way. When done incorrectly, it can seriously hurt employees’ productivity and morale. Focusing on the constructive aspect of feedback is critical.
Assess the team’s performance on the task against their defined success criteria. You then need to deliver specific, clear feedback at both individual and group level.
Encourage Employee Engagement
Switch off from focusing on work all the time and let your employees socialist together. Encourage them to tell dad jokes or share pictures of children and pets. Your team members will benefit from knowing more about each other. Try using QuizBreaker, for example, as it’s a great way to keep your remote team engaged and connected.