How to Successfully Manage a Remote Team

Finding a suitable remote team for your business is only the first step of a successful relationship. What comes next is probably the harder part — creating a habit of working together with humans thousands of miles away. Sure, you have enough tools and apps to communicate with, keep track of and present ideas to your team, but it takes some additional efforts to make this relation a truly fruitful one. Here’s our quick advice.

Clear message

Communication is a key factor for any business with an onsite team. When speaking in the context of a distributed team in one or more locations, it becomes a crucial part in the efficient work of the organisation. It’s not enough to write some tickets or vaguely discuss features with your team members and take for granted that they’ll connect the dots and understand why this is being done. You need to give them the bigger picture, explain why this new element is needed in a wider context. Only then will your remote developers be able to work with the higher purpose in mind, laying the path for upcoming functionality.

One of the primers of remote working, the social media company Buffer, has adopted a company-wide policy of repeating things twice. They believe that memos, chat posts and emails can get buried in an avalanche of requests, so repeating a point twice will significantly increase the chance of tackling it.

Build and maintain trust

Trust is a big deal with remote teams. After all, you can’t see your teammates in front of you the whole time and you don’t exactly know when and how much they’re working. You need to trust them that they know how to divide their time to complete the job. When a teammate gives you an estimated time until completion you have to trust that this time doesn’t include four days of slacking and two days of actual work. One way to reduce any kind of doubt concerning people’s productivity is creating the habit of justifying the time spent for a certain finished result. Try doing daily/weekly stand-ups where teammates describe what they’ve been working on, what issues they encountered and what they plan to do next.

The best practice of building trust is to employ communication tools that involve a video connection. That way, teammates will take into account other means of communication such as gestures and facial expressions, which are much more important for building long-lasting, personal connections.

The best way to go, when working with a remote team is to make efforts to include them in your organisation. The remote teammates may not be a formal part of the company, but they need to feel like they’re part of a wider team with a common goal. Bring the whole team together once or twice a year, share office humour with them, encourage virtual friendships. Consider a remote team as an extended part of your company family and the results will be notable.

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