5 Tips for Managing a Remote Team13 Mar 2013

Today, many of us work regularly with colleagues based in different buildings, cities, countries, and even continents. A remote team is a common occurrence. Here are five tips for remote team management to help you manage your team more effectively.

1. Set and share team goals

Working from home is appealing to relatively introverted people. Make sure the employees you hire enjoy working on their own but also thrive on stepping forward. Allow them to actively suggest new ideas, create their own projects, set and share personal goals, and recommend solutions.

The key to ensure the employees work effectively in a remote environment is to help them be self-motivated by providing clearly outlined goals, making them responsible for results, and generating individual accountability plans with a self-monitoring system. Employees working as team members need to know and understand what they are doing together. If they understand only their own role and their own work, they will always remain just individual contributors. Start with establishing SMARTER objectives for your team:
S- Specific, M- Measurable, A- Achievable, R- Relevant, T- Time bound, E- Engaging and R- Resourced.

Share goals with you team members. Discuss the objectives with your team and allow each member to suggest changes. Require week reports from your team members or use KanbanTool Analytics tool to track the workflow.

2. Focus on results

Let your team members manage their own time. This sends the message that you trust your employees. However, require them to show up on time for important meetings and to be available during the team's general working hours. Provide them with the tools to access their work remotely. Remember, remote employees should focus on accomplishing objectives as quickly and efficiently as possible. Great remote employees finish tasks ahead of time—on and ask for more.

3. Give people shorter assignments

This is not the time to give people long assignments and hope that they are completed by the deadline. Instead of assigning a three-week activity, for instance, assign the work in three one-week activities. Shorter-term due dates and Work In Progress limits help avoid multitasking and improve the workflow.

4. Communicate effectively and frequently

With working remotely, communication becomes even harder to maintain and manage. Regularly check in with members to monitor progress and provide necessary feedback. Keep members apprised of crucial information and decisions. People can start to feel isolated if they do not receive regular communications. It is hard enough to keep everyone informed on a “regular” project.

The communication lines on a virtual team must be opened up especially wide. Schedule a conference or video conference calls often. Send out group emails addressing particular projects. Encourage your team members to use comments on KanbanTool cards to ask question or share ideas with attachments. Be sure to choose the most effective method of communication that fits your remote team’s needs. Discuss other ways to ensure your team members are communicating frequently enough with each other to prevent mistakes, unnecessary progress on cancelled projects, or to announce breaking news and emergencies. If you choose the most effective means of communicating for your team, you will ensure your remote employees are up to speed on all important matters.

5. Create Team Spirit

Remote workers often feel detached from the “mother ship”. The manager must endeavour to create a sense of bond with the team and company. Here are some ways to create the sense of community among team members that they are missing by not being in a co-located office environment: monthly team meetings (teleconferences or video conferences), rotating responsibility for chairing the monthly meetings, celebrating birthdays or outstanding personal and team achievements, allowing employees to use instant messaging to communicate informally, and creating opportunities for team members to collaborate on improvements.

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