Managing any kind of team can certainly have its challenges. But, when working in a remote team, sometimes those challenges seem to be amplified. Here at Toggl Plan, we understand the struggle. That’s why we came up with a list of tips and tricks to help you manage a remote team.
Choose Your Team Wisely
It takes a very dedicated person to work remotely. It takes an even more dedicated person to work in a remote team. Choosing the right people for the job can often be difficult and certainly time consuming, but it can mean the difference between project completion and project failure.
Start off on the right foot and choose people that are both professional and can work well in a remote team. We use Toggl Hire to test our applicants’ skills. The skills tests at Toggl Hire are easy to set up and ensure that every applicant starts out on an even playing field. Plus, starting the application process with a skills test makes it easy to sort through candidates and interview only the most promising people.
To ensure that potential hires work well on a remote team, simply start each potential new hire on a trial basis. You can test their work skills before you determine if they’re a good fit or not. That way, if they don’t quite fit with your team, you’ll know within a week or two.
You may have heard this tip before, but that’s because it’s a very important one. Daily conversations with your team members help in more ways than one. As the project manager, it’s your job to keep tabs on everyone. Daily check-ins allow you to always know what everyone is working on, and what direction they’re headed. This is a very important step to make sure the project is done on time. Equally as important is the moral boost you can give your remote team with a casual conversation. Simply asking how someones weekend was or if they have any pans for their birthday can build up a positive rapport among team members.
There are a few ways you can communicate daily:
- Send daily emails
- Give constructive feedback
- Plan team events
- Hold video chat calls
- Discuss new ideas
The more often you communicate with your team, the more you build up trust and a sense of team collaboration, which is essential for reaching your project goals.
For more on communication in remote teams, read Toggl Plan’s guest article on the GoLeanSixSigma blog!
Use the Right Tools
There are plenty of tools to help your team communicate and collaborate remotely. While different teams have different needs, we recommend Slack and Zoom for communication, Toggl Track for time tracking, and Toggl Plan for big picture planning.
Remote teams around the world use these tools to keep team members focused and communication lines open.
Internal blogs are a more formal way of communication. You can use the blog as a way to make company announcements, web updates, internal changes, or anything related to the team. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it’s just a central means of communicating with your entire team, without worrying about timezones. It’s really easy to setup an internal blog. All you have to do is create a private WordPress blog.
Socializing is a big deal when it comes to remote teams. It doesn’t have to be everyday or even every month, but find the time, at least a couple of times a year, to meet with the people you work with. Sure, you may have heard their voice before and seen their face a time or two, but talking face-to-face really helps you connect.
Make it Easy to Hire new People
We understand hiring a new person and integrating them into your already established team can have its setbacks. However, there are a few things you can have ready for this new team member. A PDF file with a description of what they’ll be doing can both give them insight on the job and a reference to go back a view later. Or, maybe you’re more of a visual presenter? You can ask your team to make quick video introductions of themselves so that everyone gets to know each other a little better.
Interaction with your team is more than just communicating. Interacting is sharing ideas and discussing new projects. Have your team engage in team-building exercises. Team-building exercises can be anything that you think will build your team socially and professionally. Have them list a few facts about themselves, give a virtual office tour, or even just talk about their likes and dislikes. Having your team interact and get to know each other is the goal here.
Everyone has a Different Schedule
Working in a remote team often means people are working in different time zones. This unfortunately means that while some of you are just getting started with your day, others have already begun. This is fairly common in remote teams, but it’s nothing you can’t work around. The key here is to make note of everyone’s time zone and build the calendar accordingly. Schedule meetings at times that are most convenient for the majority of your team members.
Everyone has a Different Style
This sort of plays into what was just discussed above, but definitely deserves its own header. Everyone is different. That’s not a bad thing, it just means that you have to understand how they work. Some might be a little more talkative than others, or learn visually instead of vocally. Learn everyone’s work style and use it to make the team function better.
Believe in Your Remote Team
We’ve all sort of been taught to not trust the people on the internet. Hiring team members you can trust can take a lot of time, but it’s very much worth it. We’ll end it with the most important of all the tips and tricks, trust. If you hire the right people, you’ll manage a team of go getters and hard workers. Trust that everyone is doing their assigned tasks and staying productive. Trust them, and they’ll trust you.
In conclusion, remote team management can be as easy or as difficult as you make it. Prepare yourself before hand and make it as efficient as possible. Understand that even though your team works remotely, there are ways to make team management better.
Bonus: Remote Working Tips From The Experts
Lastly, let’s hear some words of wisdom from leaders within remote teams. After all, there’s no substitute for real-world experience!
Remote work is dependent on a different setup and value system. Are you prepared to allow others to work asynchronously? How about owning your mistakes every step of the way? Are you ready to always improve your communication skills? If that sounds good, you’re likely to succeed in remote working.Laura Laasi, Operations Manager, Toggl Plan
Working remotely can be stressful for some, and for others, it could be a dream come true. Employees may not find the remote work environment productive enough initially, but if they block their time for their routine tasks, their productivity levels will shoot up. Know when to log off from work. Working remotely doesn’t mean working extra hours. Exercise, eat healthy food, meditate, and have adequate sleep to get the most out of working remotely.Susanne Klepsch, CEO, Meetfox
A well-coordinated and responsible team is the basis of remote work. People who are communicative, are not afraid to talk on the phone and have the ease of appearing in front of the camera during video conferences, will be great as remote workers. If you have people in your team who prefer to communicate face-to-face or via e-mail, consider whether it is worth upgrading their communication skills within the training budget.Kinga Edwards, CEO, Brainy Bees
A well-coordinated team also means greater productivity. Therefore, take care of remote integration. You can create a virtual meeting place on Slack or other messenger so that you can talk about things not necessarily related to work. Think of a space like everyday coffee meetings. A moment of a break will serve everyone well.
A huge challenge when working with remote teams is communication. Whereas in person you can see your co-workers every day and check up on them, you can only rely on written communication and the occasional video chat to communicate.
That’s why you should always aim to overcommunicate rather than under-communicate. The better you communicate with your team, the easier it’ll be for everyone to be on the same page.Max Benz, Founder, BankingGeek