On Managing Remote Teams Effectively

Building a distributed team is becoming a more and more attractive option for teams and startups.

There are many natural advantages to running a remote team:

  • Lower office expenses
  • No more pointless meetings
  • More flexibility for employees
  • Access to global talent pools
  • 24/7 support with different time zones

Both managers and employees are loving the benefits.

“Thirty-seven percent of U.S. workers say they have telecommuted, four times greater than the 9% found in 1995.” — Gallup Poll Results.
Remote employees are almost twice as likely to work beyond 40 hours a week — and not just on menial tasks, according to a recent report from Inc. Magazine. Workers tend to be 20% more productive when they get to tackle creative projects remotely. — Jell.Com

While there are clear benefits to distributed teams, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows. There are many challenges that uniquely fall upon remote teams.

Managers must compensate for the lack of a physical presence, which, can often be a huge hurdle. Strong communication is essential to a strong team,

In this sense, remote teams can be at an immense disadvantage.

Luckily, there are many different ‘best practices’ that you can use to manage your remote team more effectively.

Here are 4 of my favorite:

1. Hold Daily Stand-Ups

Daily stand-ups are a great way to make sure everyone on the team is on the same page. For remote teams, this is especially important, as you’ll often have people working in different regions and time zones.

Use the stand-up as an opportunity to have your team each answer these 3 simple questions:

1. What did you do yesterday?
2. What will you do today?
3. Are there any impediments or blockers in your way?

By doing this daily, your team gains insight into the progress of the team, as well as what to look forward to over the next couple of days.

The daily stand-up is a great way to have each member of your team publicly commit to and set a goal. You’ll find that more gets done when members are held to a certain standard, especially one that they set themselves.

There are many different tools that you can leverage to run your stand-up: Tatsu (integrates with Slack) or Status Hero to name a few. It may even require a video chat or phone call.

As a manager, your duty is to find which setup works best for you and your team. Be sure that you are doing what you ask of your employees — which means, yes, you too should be doing your daily stand-up.

2. Real Time Collaboration

In the past, a big hurdle for distributed teams had been finding ways to collaborate while working. We’ve seen a ton of progress, technologically, addressing this specific issue.

As a result, there are tons of tools available that make it super easy to work on the same thing with your coworkers from around the world.

You can use Dropbox Paper or Google Drive to write and edit work together.

You can use Slack to share files quickly and quickly message your team (+more).

As you can see, there are lots of tools in this department ~ built to make your job as a manager easier and more efficient.

3. Video Conferencing

Perhaps the most frustrating part of working on a remote team is dealing with blurry video chats. They cause a headache. They suck. And there has never been a good solution.

At Pluot, we were sick of this. So we built the easiest way for you and your team to video chat.

It’s an experience that just works so that you can stop worrying about blurry screens. Try out our web version for free.

With our Pro Option, you’ll get access to a ton of features like:

  • Big Screen Support
  • Simultaneous Screen Sharing
  • No login, download, or plugin.
  • Audio Participation

We designed Pluot with our peers and coworkers in mind. In today’s modern world, there is NO WAY we should be having to deal with old school video conferencing.

4. Stay Super Organized

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the number of SAAS tools out there. It often feels like there are an infinite number of products needed to manage your business. For remote teams, this nightmare often feels magnified tenfold. But, as a leader of our teams, we cannot crumble.

The best, and only way I’ve found to mitigate this pain point, is to make it a priority to stay organized from day one.

The first easy way I’ve found to alleviate a ton of organizational headaches is to use a password manager that you can distribute to your team.

You can use Last Pass or 1 Password to securely share passwords. Their dashboards not only provide the barebone password features, but also more advanced things like user permissions and security settings.

You’ll never again have to worry about remembering a password for that one SAAS product you signed up for months ago.

Another great way to stay organized is to use a productivity tool like Trello or Asana that can help you stay on top of your game with to-do lists and scheduling.

https://blog.asana.com/2016/11/introducing-boards/

Boards are a great way to keep everything in one, transparent, place that your whole team can view. Think of them as a virtual whiteboard. They are a beautiful alternative to that sticky-noted white board we commonly see on office walls.

Boards are just one example of technology bringing an offline practice to the digital world. The best remote teams are commonly experimenting with and leveraging these technologies to stay productive and current.

5. Get Feedback and Have Fun

This last part of managing your remote team effectively is often overlooked by managers who are used to interfacing with their employees in person.

Virtually, it is really hard to tell how your employee is feeling. You do not know if they are enjoying their work, how they feel about you as a manager, or, perhaps, their real perspective on the company.

But as you know, one of the keys to being a great manager is having transparent relationships with your employees. Without this link, the team can fall apart.

To compensate for the lack of face-time, it’s crucial you hop on a video chat or ping in for a phone call on a regular basis and try and get raw and honest feedback.

You want your employees to love work, so make sure that it is not only “work,” but also enjoyable and stimulating. Use something like Giphy’s slackbot to add a bit of energy to your conversations ~ anything that can serve as a pick me up!