Telecommuting is the new reality of work. Increased productivity is one benefit that cuts across both camps involved. However, to maximize it, managers have to avoid certain remote team management mistakes.
According to Gallup, 57% of Americans work remotely. In that vein, managers have a bit of a challenge since it’s a different ball game managing a remote team compared to an on-site one. It requires some creativity. Companies such as Zapier and Buffer are doing great with remote teams, so it’s possible.
To make things coordinate well, organized, and clearly set out with remote teams, we bring you some management mistakes to avoid.
7 Remote team management mistakes to avoid
1. Not fostering team interaction
You cannot separate socializing from humans. Working remotely attempts to do that by isolating your team members. As a manager, ensure the members in your team interact with one another as often as possible. This is something you might have left them to do naturally in an office setting but is now part of your job.
You can arrange regular meetings to let everyone get to know one another and break the ice. The synergy your team builds by being cordial will help them sync and work as a unit.
Another advantage of this is conflict resolution. If you’re the only connection among your team, it’ll take longer to resolve even mundane issues. But if the interaction is there, they can even hash things out without your intervention.
2. You don’t communicate expectations
When managing a remote team, you can’t afford to assume too much, especially with expectations. It’s best practice to let your remote team know their short, middle, and long-term expectations.
If you don’t do this, you’re setting up for missing your objectives. Letting your team know what you expect from them puts everyone on the same page. Working as a unit, as they should, is paramount to productivity and efficiency.
As Andrea Cajiao, Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at Torre, puts it, “when you work in a fast-paced environment, it’s easy to forget that those around you might not see everything that’s in your head.”
So, if it takes you to send each team member a detailed PDF of their expectations, do so. It’ll only make your life easier.
3. Communication failure
Communication is the single most important thing when managing remote teams. You might get away with not being excellent at it with on-site team management. As a remote manager, it’s a skill you must be good at.
It’s one thing to communicate, it’s another to use the right medium for the right purpose. The last thing you want is for your team to consider communication a burden.
Be sure not to rely on emails as your major method of communication, unless your team or company is small. According to Radicati, people send about 205 billion emails every day! Aside from the risk of your message getting lost in a pile, emails won’t meet the emotional need of your team. So, find a more interactive means.
Even though email is a great way to communicate, what happens when you need to explain a new project or task to your team?
Digital whiteboards will do great in such instances. So, using tools such as Wrike or Asana can be a great way to communicate certain things to your team.
Sarah Beldo, Content Marketing and Communications Head at Miro, says “as a manager, you need to double down on clear, structured communication to make sure everyone’s aligned and understands what’s expected.”
Remember, communication is important, so is how you go about it. They go hand in hand.
4. Not using the right tools for work
The right tool is as important as skills to deliver great work. The success of your remote team relies on not just the productivity tools but also the ones for communication. Tools are enablers that bring out the ability of your team. So, it’s essential to choose right.
Look out for project management tools that improve collaboration. Dropbox, OneDrive, etc. can streamline your team’s work with ease. Fortunately, many of these tools integrate most of the capabilities you need.
As Magda, the Head of Communications at Remote-how, said “don’t fall into the trap of choosing the coolest app.” Go for one that serves the purpose you and your team needs. A cool app that can’t do what you want makes your job harder.
5. Micromanaging your team
If you can’t trust your team to get their jobs done on their own, what makes you think breathing down their neck will make things better? This is another reason to communicate your expectations from the start.
Following up too often is also micromanaging. It stresses your team members and mounts unnecessary pressure. Flexible schedule comes with working remotely, so you might have to give them some leeway with working hours. As long as they deliver quality jobs and don’t throw the team off schedule, allow them to do their jobs.
This is one pitfall on-site managers often carry over to their remote team management. If there’s a team member that only gets things done when you micromanage, you should evaluate their place on your team.
6. You don't consider time zones
One good thing about remote working is that it allows you to recruit talents from across the world. The flip side to that is differences in time zones. However, with proper management, it shouldn’t be too much of a problem.
Timing is a reason remote working needs flexible schedules to work. To properly manage your remote team, you need to understand that working hours will be different. When setting up schedules, you can group workers according to their time zones to make things easier.
The important thing is the understanding of all concerned. Flexibility plays a huge part here too as meeting times should be convenient for everyone. In my case, I sometimes have to stay up late to attend meetings that’s daytime for the rest of the team.
7. Overlooking the development of your remote team
Opportunity to grow should not be limited to office workers only. Remote workers should get training too especially since online learning is cheaper than in-house. That shows the company’s commitment to their development.
Remote working is here to stay and the earlier employers learn how to manage remote teams, the more beneficial remote working will be to all concerned. Managers often make the mistake of dealing with their remote teams the same as on-site teams. We hope this post will help more managers avoid remote team management mistakes that can make things difficult. As you prepare for a life of working from home, let Autonomous equip you with ergonomic office furniture to improve your productivity.
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