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Kerry Wekelo of Actualize Consulting: Five Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Remote Team

Understanding each person’s communication style: Not everyone likes to communicate the same way. For example, some people like to use instant message for small items and email for bigger tasks. Others prefer to talk through each task. It can depend on the person, but becoming familiar with these styles can make sure everything runs smoothly.

  1. Keeping the Team Connected: Team connections build naturally in an in-person environment when you are around everyone for the entire 40-hour work week. When we are separated by distance and computer screens, you need to actively put energy towards getting to know everyone and establishing a bond.
  2. Managing Projects: In the office, you can easily collaborate in conference rooms and by making rounds around the building. In a virtual setting, you are only as collaborative as the tools you have will allow.
  3. Maintaining Communication: When you aren’t working face-to-face, body language is missing from your interactions. Not to mention, small talk doesn’t really exist — so a lot of the little verbal updates you would give your team do not happen organically.
  4. Lack of Visibility: You don’t know what your team is doing at all hours of the day. It can be hard to reach them sometimes.
  1. Keeping the team connected despite geographical differences and a virtual workplace requires some creativity. We regularly have “all hands calls” or firm-wide meetings that allow everyone in the company to hear updates and ask questions, partner check-in calls where small cross-sections of teams are in a video call with the firm’s partners, and we virtual team-building events like Zoom cooking classes and workouts.
  2. Managing projects virtually requires the right tools. For example, having a video call software like Google Meet or GoToMeeting helps with collaboration, ProjectPlace helps define and oversee tasks being completed, and Dropbox enables a way to collaborate on files and store them in a place everyone can access.
  3. To maintain ample communication, it is necessary to over-communicate. Sometimes it may seem over the top, but keeping on the same page is harder without organic conversation that happens naturally in in-person settings.
  4. To combat a lack of visibility, ensure everyone is on the same page about their schedules. I personally don’t mind if a team member needs to step out for an hour during the day, but I do ask that they put a note on their calendar that they can’t be reached at that time. This way, I don’t have to waste time trying to track them down. It goes back to the importance of staying in the loop and making sure everyone is communicating effectively.

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