Proven Practices: How to manage remote teams
Though I planned to write this post before the Covid-19 outbreak, it seems only appropriate now to share some tips and tricks you can use to manage remote teams. Either international or domestic, remote work is slowly becoming the most desired work benefit amongst millennials. The benefits may seem obvious to some, but for those of you still unconvinced, I suggest you check this other post about the benefits of remote work. Now if you’re one of those wonderfully progressive employers managing a remote workforce and are looking for proven practices, this one’s for you.
Set SMART Goals at work
Who doesn’t love a good acronym. S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Each of these principles is integral to creating goals that make sense for each employee, are based in data, are actionable, and are easily identifiable as completed or not completed. This is the step in the process where you and your employee will take your desired outcomes from and flesh out the details. To best manage remote teams, use these prompts to get you started:
What is the exact result that you would like to see your employee achieve? Be specific in your wording so that there is no gray area.
Example: Paulina will make $25,000 in sales by the end of Quarter 3.
How will you be able to tell if your employee achieved their goal or not? What metrics will you use to measure this goal? If there is not a metric associated with your goal, it is not a S.M.A.R.T. goal, and should be re-evaluated.
Example: Travis will increase traffic to companyx.com by 40% by the end of Quarter 3.
In this case, the metric is traffic, or pageviews, on the company’s website.
Is this goal within the realm of possibility? Have you looked at past data in order to determine a goal that will require effort to complete, but is not unreasonable?
Example: Helena will secure 10 new clients for Company X by the end of Quarter 3.
If, in the past, Helena has only been able to secure 3 new clients per quarter, this goal may not be entirely achievable.
Does the goal make sense for the company? Does it align with where the company wants to go and grow over the time period?
Example: Maurizio will plan 3 team outings during Quarter 3.
If fostering company culture is not a priority for Company X, this goal may not be entirely relevant for Maurizio this quarter.
Does the goal have a deadline? Is there a date and time when you can determine if the goal has been completed?
Example: Kyra will complete 25 employee evaluations by the end of Quarter 3.
Allow flexible working hours
How we work is always evolving. Not too long ago, workers weren’t at home eating dinner by 6:30. Instead, they toiled for 12 to 16 hours a day doing backbreaking work and hardly seeing their families. Work-life balance simply didn’t exist before the early 20th century, and it wasn’t until 1938 that the workweek was formally capped at 44 hours per week.
Also read: The Rise and Fall of the 40-Hour Work Week
A large percentage of employers are now choosing to be flexible with scheduling and work-from-home options, which offer benefits to both employers and employees. Considering making some policy changes? If you want to be like all the cool kids in Silicon Valley and manage remote teams, you’ll be able to take advantage of these 5 benefits of offering flexible hours.
1. Staying competitive in the search for talent
Ask any successful Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the modern era, offering flexible work options isn’t something that will set your organization apart—it’s something that’s necessary when trying to attract top talent. Because flexibility is the new norm, potential employees may well pass over businesses that aren’t making an effort to keep up with the times. To find the best talent, you need to offer competitive benefits and know how to manage remote teams.
2. Accommodating for the modern family
Today, family structures are less rigid than they were 50 years ago. Families with children may have two parents working, creating tension with the traditional 9-5 schedule. Doctor’s appointments, school activities, and other conflicts can be difficult to manage without a flexible work schedule. New parents often do not have adequate parental leave, which can force families to make compromises.
Many parents would like the opportunity to work remotely with a new baby in the home to save on daycare costs and reap the benefits of more time with their children and improved health for their families (babies that are breastfed are 50% less likely to die from SIDS from ages 6-23 months). Employers can benefit from accommodating different family schedules by retaining talented employees who have familial obligations.
3. Greater productivity
When you pay people to get the job done, instead of paying them to have them sitting in a chair for eight hours a day, remarkable things happen. Most people are surprised to learn that allowing remote and flexible work hours actually contributes to better productivity. Cisco Systems internal reporting showed that their shift to allowing remote work caused 75% of employees to improve their timeliness, and 69% were more productive. 67% also noted that the overall quality of their work improved. These incredible results are just one example of how giving people more autonomy and more of their time back (no more long commutes!) benefits everyone.
4. Higher worker engagement
If you’re a night owl, how productive and engaged are you going to be at 9 AM on a Monday? Allowing workers to set their own hours or work from home allows them to be productive when they’re feeling most awake and creative. Additionally, having a better work-life balance and the trust that goes along with flexible work arrangement can make people feel better about being at work overall.
Morale and engagement are naturally boosted when employees are given more control over their own schedules, and people are more likely to feel invested in the future of the company when they’re happy with their schedule and work culture. High morale and engagement reduces turnover, improves productivity, and helps companies grow.
5. Better employee health
Physical activity is essential to maintaining health and well-being (especially for people with desk jobs), but many people simply don’t have time to hit the gym after a tough day at work and a frustrating commute. Just 3 hours of exercise every week can extend a person’s lifespan by 5 years, and exercise also helps people stay focused and productive in the office. However, very few office workers are willing to rise at 4 AM to work out before work, and health suffers because of it. If you manage remote teams, then you’re allowing your team to set their own schedule, and fit in health as a priority in their day.
Stress can also lead to burnout and poor health in employees. Offering flexible hours can be a boon to employers and employees alike by lowering stress and resulting in fewer sick days and lower turnover. Remote work options and flexible hours can also cut out a lot of commuting hours, allowing employees to incorporate physical activity into their lives or take a break when they feel burned out. What’s not to like?
Maintain an enjoyable company culture
Some challenges of managing virtual teams stem from bad company culture. Distrust and micromanagement have the same effect on remote workers as they do for your in office employees and often contribute to increased employee turnover and decreased motivation. These can then influence their work, aiding in the production of work that is perhaps not as great as it otherwise could have been.
However, because a strong corporate culture is sometimes an afterthought, many companies fall into the trap of contributing to a negative corporate culture.
Because the trap of a negative corporate culture looms over every business, precautions must be taken to ensure they’re not a casualty. So when it comes to warning signs to look for when you manage remote teams, the good news is, you don’t have to look too far. This article is a straightforward list of 10 warning signs of a negative corporate culture that you should look out for. Below are a few highlights.
Poor internal communication
A lack of team spirit in the office can be toxic to a business. This is why it’s no surprise that poor internal communication is an undeniable sign of a negative culture. However, because your business aims to create a culture where everyone is friendly and supportive of each other, communication is key.
Focus on profit
Ensuring the company has a good quarter can be important, but solely focussing on the bottom line can be detrimental to the culture and business all the same. In fact, “companies that don’t have a strong sense of purpose tend to focus more on the bottom line (69%) and short term results (52%).
Beyond this however, it’s believed that businesses that only focus on profit, leaving no room for employee engagement, tend to be those that people leave. It’s easy to enjoy work when the business puts in effort for you.
Lack of empathy
When it comes to human interaction, empathy is important. Yet, when it’s not there, it can appear even more important. Engaging employees and having empathy for them and their lives is fundamental to creating relationships as well as culture.
In the working environment it can be as important. For example, understanding and being empathetic towards co-workers strengths and weaknesses is of value. Know that although something may come easily to some, it might not come easy to others.
Poor management and leadership
Like ‘Bad habits’, it can often be the management of a company that starts things on a downward trajectory. From setting a standard of bad habits, to not managing employees properly, the culture can often be the casualty.
To fix this, ensure the management and leadership of the company are setting the standard and get the best from the employees.
Maximize project management apps and other tech
Tools to manage remote employees are always being developed. Learning how to manage your projects efficiently can mean the difference between profit and loss for your revenue. In fact, it’s estimated that 9.9% of every dollar is currently wasted due to poor project performance. That’s a sobering stat, especially if your startup or freelance business isn’t turning over a high profit margin to begin with.To narrow down our list of the best free project management software to manage remote teams, we looked for tools that met the following criteria:
Free for unlimited projects: The apps we chose have free plans that you can use to manage unlimited projects.
Variety: We included options for various management methodologies—kanban, Gantt charts, Scrum, and to-do lists—so we eliminated some apps simply because there were better alternatives available using the same PM methodology.
Hosted: There are a lot of great, free, self-hosted project management tools, but they take longer to set up and manage. We’re featuring project management apps that are hosted by the companies that provide the tools.
- Trello (Web, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android) for individuals and teams who need a work pipeline
- MeisterTask (Web, Windows, macOS, iOS, Android) for combining project ideation, planning, and execution
- KanbanFlow (Web) for combining kanban, time tracking, and Pomodoro
- Freedcamp (Web, iOS, Android) for managing all projects and communications in a single tool
- Asana (Web, iOS, Android) for creating a to-do list powerful enough to manage projects
In Summary, in order to best manage remote teams, it’s important to establish good management habits over all. If you already practice all the above principles in your workplace, then you should be able to manage remote teams quite easily. Be sure to set SMART Goals, allow flexible working hours, maintain a positive company culture, and utilize the best project management apps.
Thanks for reading!