The brick-and-mortar office is no longer the norm today. Many companies are shifting to the use of remote teams to help them fulfill their goals. A Global Workplace Analytics study showed that the number of remote employees increased by 80%. There are millions of people around the world that consider their homes as their primary workplace.
Why the Shift to Remote Teams
It is not a surprise that remote teams are becoming popular especially when you consider the benefits associate with them. Some of these include:
- Getting talented individuals on your team
When you choose to have a remote workforce you have a bigger pool of talent to build your team from. Of course you will have to actually search for the talent in order to access it. You will however have a better chance of being able to find people with the right skills and experience to ensure that the project you’re working on is completed successfully.
- Increased productivity
A study of employees carried out in 2015 showed that most employees faked their way through 80 hours of work each week. A remote workforce helps overcome this challenge. You can’t fake productivity when working remotely. You have to meet your outcomes and goals in order to be a valuable part of the team.
Many people appreciate not having to spend time commuting to work or sitting at a desk counting down the hours. Remote teams allow employees to work with the confidence that they are trusted to complete their tasks unsupervised.
- Inexpensive hiring
Hiring remote workers is less expensive. You can access international talent without the overheads that you have to cater for with domestic workers. You can save on office and other related expenses.
- Faster response times
Responding to problems is much easier and faster when working with a remote team. Issues can be recognized easily and dealt with right away. You are not limited by work hours or other restrictions that come with working in the traditional set up.
Remote Team Management Challenges
While working with remote teams offers so many benefits, there are several challenges that present themselves to project managers working with remote teams. These include:
- Communication is harder
It’s quite easy to communicate to staff members that you can see working at their desks. It’s much harder to touch base with an employee who is working from home. Remote team communication becomes even more complex when members of the team are working in different time zones. This would mean that they are on different schedules.
It can be challenging to get responses or information needed urgently from a remote team. You’re never in the same room with your team members to know exactly what is happening on the other side.
- You have to trust your employees
This can be difficult for any project manager especially if you’re working on a project with a new team. Working with a remote team comes down to trust. You have to trust that everyone is doing what they’re supposed to although this may not always be the case.
- Hard to develop a team culture
Team culture is vital for the success of any team. You have to share the same values and goals in order to be successful. When the members of the team are working from different locations, it can be a challenge to build team culture. The members of the team have little to no exposure to each other depending on the nature of the project.
Remote Team Guide: Leading Your Team to Success
Managing a remote team may not be a bed or roses. However, there are several things you can do to help lead your team to success. Some of these include:
1. Establish clear communication standards
This depends a large deal on the nature of the project. You may require team members to communicate daily or once a week as determined by the requirements of the project. It is best to have a collaborative platform from which all communication can be made. This allows for effective communication. It also ensures that records of communication are kept for future reference.
2. Choose communication tools that work best for your team
It is important to ensure that the communication tools you choose allow for effective communication. These tools should allow for collaboration among team members. Some tools you may want to consider include online chat rooms, social networks and digital whiteboards to name a few. There are also various project management tools that allow for greater collaboration and effective communication among team members.
It is important to ensure that members of the team are trained in the proper use of these tools. This ensures their effective use.
3. Keep track of productivity
Working remotely allows greater flexibility for team members. However, it can also be a great temptation to workers to slack off since no one is watching them closely. It is important that each member of the team meet their goals and expectations. Everyone has to carry their own weight.
It is important for you as project manager to keep track of productivity. This doesn’t mean micro-managing your employees. It simply means communicating your expectations and desires to team members and keeping track of their progress in handling different tasks.
It is important to keep communication going for this to be successful. It is also important to have a platform from which you and members of the team can track their own progress.
4. Be careful when selecting your team
This is one of the most important factors in ensuring the success of any project. You need to have the right team in order to be successful. You need to select a team of self-starters. They should be able to work without supervision. They should be people who can find tasks to do that will benefit the project even when they have not been assigned any tasks for that day. You should be able to trust them to complete their tasks as scheduled.
Test their communication skills during the initial stages of interviews to ensure that you’re hiring the right person. Poor communication skills often indicate a poor attitude.
Leading and managing remote teams often means using a different approach to that which project managers would use in the traditional office setting. Project managers working with remote teams have to put in more effort in various aspects including hiring the right people as well as communication.
If you do your part and ensure that you have the right team and are using the right tools effectively, then your remote working environment will require you to manage it less. This means you’ll have more time to work on your own tasks.