25 Mar Essential ideas for managing a remote team
Many companies have a remote working model with employees around the world with differences in hours, customs and social contexts among team members.
In the current scenario that many companies live, forced to work from their homes as a result of the pandemic (Covid-19), they face this new form of work known as “home office” or “teleworking”.
Working from home may be the dream of many , but quite the opposite for those who prefer the office environment or who are used to this type of work.
The truth is that not everyone can adapt to this type of work , even young people who aspire to work from a comfortable sofa without having to take the bus or subway, may find difficulties and end up preferring an office environment .
For this reason, today we want to offer advice from the experience of the team that is part of Triangle, which has currently turned 100% to remote work with efficiency.
One of the biggest deficiencies is that you do not meet your colleagues on a day to day basis, as if it were within your company where you would find yourself if you were all locally located in the same place. You really have to make up for the fact that there is no physical contact if you are managing a remote team.
For this reason in a virtual way the teams have to compensate that natural crossing with people . It is in joint sessions where teams are able to produce new ideas , which would not otherwise occur. For this reason we recommend that you provide the opportunity to hold weekly virtual team conferences . Equip yourself with the necessary tools and give freedom to team members and meet virtually to talk about ongoing and future projects.
Also, there may be workers who are geographically located elsewhere. It can be an advantage if it allows you to offer support at different times, for example, but it can be a disadvantage to carry out activities together that involve the entire team.
We suggest that you have a constantly open chat room. We use Microsoft Teams, but it can be WhatsApp, Facebook or the platform of your choice, basically a free place that offers the fresh feeling of casual chat.
Can you talk about anything you want to talk about if you want to talk? Yes , about what your children do in the afternoons, if you want to talk about a different coding system, or if you want to comment on the last episode of your favorite series. You can do it in the free chat room, where you really create the environment to bump into the natural conversation you would have had within an organization.
That little talk that people need to overcome those moments of being blocked or after a meeting that has required a lot of effort. It’s also important to be able to give them a deeper insight into people , which you otherwise wouldn’t have had if they didn’t have access to that type of chat.
— Triangle (@TriangleGST) March 19, 2020
You have to be very cautious with the email and chat overhead. This is a common problem in companies working in physical locations, but it is still aggravated within companies with a remote working culture as you receive a higher volume of email and more chat messages. </ strong>
Encourage your employees to turn off the chat and turn off their email when they have finished their workday and thus prevent them from answering emails at 3am. It is very important that the remote worker notices the disconnection between work and personal time, to enhance personal well-being.
Let’s talk about the importance levels that apply to communication, so we recommend that:
- video is the most important level of communication,
- follow the audio
- then it’s live chat
- and finally the email
In that order, so whenever you can make video calls with the people you need. Videoconferencing is essential because video is the richest form of communication you can have on your team, whether it’s from two people to a large group.
Zoom, Skype, or our preference Microsoft Teams, give you the ability to work and collaborate effectively with colleagues remotely, and even if you want to get started quickly and easily, tools like Google Hangouts will come in handy.
In the event that it is not possible to make a video call, you can have an audio call. If this is not possible, we will go to the chat in real time with the person in question and, if it is not possible, go to email.
Why is it really important to make sure you have those levels?
Because e-mail can be slower, if it is a large topic to be addressed. In this sense, the video is faster and more explanatory. So if you need to solve any issue quickly and efficiently, video is the best tool.
And remember to add emojis, gifs and whatever is necessary to reduce the gap of personal contact;)
Alternatives to communicate
If you can’t make a video call because of schedules, for example, video continues to be one of the most effective communication methods for explaining exactly what you need. An alternative would be to use visualization tools “screenshots” or screenshots.
Some tools, such as those offered by Jing, allow you to draw a box on your computer screen and add directions to better understand what you want to transmit.
With Jing’s Snagit you can record a screenshot showing exactly what you want to highlight.
To make sure that the message you send, feels as close as possible, using this type of tools you get more wealth and closeness than you could achieve with a simple email or chat message . The fact of making image or video captures makes your communication more meaningful.
Taking into account the previous point, if you cannot record video and the explanation is not enough with images, a good solution is to record audios that accompany the images.
Keep the focus
It is important to establish a rhythm for the meetings, if they do not meet in the agreed time, people can be distracted and not focus on executing their work. We therefore suggest that you establish a calendar for a weekly meeting or at least a biweekly meeting.
We believe that you should meet with your team members at least once a week . Even if you work remotely, the work continues day by day and, therefore, if there are topics that cannot be discussed until the next meeting, you will cause a collapse in the work of your team. In addition, it is important to periodically validate that all team members are working according to established guidelines. If, on the other hand, you only do one monthly meeting , a worker may have worked with a completely different idea in mind than the one intended by the project approach.
In this way we recommend meeting with your team 1 or 2 times a week and from this meeting clear identifiable objectives must come out (KPI), to make the most of the time of these meetings.
Through the objectives, you can review the work done the previous week and plan which projects to work on next week. Any circumstance or problem that is blocking the continuity of their work and that they need to report to get around them should be addressed at these meetings.
In this way, your team will have a fluid work rhythm and will be able to maintain trust between the different links of the group.
For even more effective collaboration, we recommend working through cooperative oncloud documents and spreadsheets. Virtual documents from Google Drive or Microsoft One Drive are really easy to manage.
Any document you want to work with, you need to make sure it’s in the cloud so you can edit them live and the whole team can access a single document, modifying, adding and editing at the same time.
In addition, these tools allow you to see the different versions of the document, which people have added and which people have removed data or information.
Today, or due to the company’s casuistry, we find companies that do not use management systems for their projects. It is very important to us that an organization working remotely can ensure that all projects and tasks are documented.
Because when ideas are in your head, unfortunately they cannot be communicated to the rest of the organization. It is necessary to maintain a uniform situation to that of the company that works locally , where the general communication happens in a simpler way, saying “oh yes, I delivered those documents” or “I have already made the modifications”.
To solve this problem you need a project management system and use it regularly. Our suggestion is to use softwares similar to Asana, Basecamp or JIRA depending on the needs.
Another of the biggest problems people face when working remotely is the lack of processes within their organization . If you have a remote business, doubts arise so that everyone performs the tasks in the same way.
For example, to design a new digital campaign, what colors do you use? Has the proper size and font been verified? Will it be promoted in the right way? What hashtags write under that content?
It is a good option to integrate the knowledge and methodology in a single knowledge tool to quickly consult when there are doubts or verification is required . Because designing an advertising piece is not a problem, but it would be if you are managing 100 pieces for different clients.
With the implementation of tools such as Guru, which is very simple to implement and use, you can save time and, therefore, redistribute it in other activities or objectives.
One point where some may disagree is to deploy flexible work schedules , provided there is consistency, and they are productive with good results.
The important thing is that the team does the work, so focusing on efficiency does not necessarily imply the time worked. There are people who are very productive when they just get up, but at the end of the day their performance, and others that reach their maximum pace later than the previous ones, but in the last hours they are still energized.
Of course, if you decide to opt for flexible schedules, we recommend that you establish mandatory follow-up meetings to coordinate and synchronize objectives with the entire team.
If the team is comfortable with their space and also with the people around them at work, they will be more motivated to keep moving forward and achieve new goals. It will also allow you to retain talent in the long term.
Remember that there is not only monetary motivation. You can motivate the team if you promote a favorable environment with common activities inside and outside work . In this way, you will be able to strengthen friendship ties between workers, promoting participation and involvement in company projects, and even better, communication will improve exponentially.
There are countless virtual activities to simulate these group moments . Gamification in own working hours. For example, take a trivia to meet team members, what is their favorite food, what are their hobbies, what music do they listen to, or just sending desktop photos where they work.
Another of the biggest motivations that people in your team can receive is that they know that their superiors are proud of the work they did. You must incentivize a job well done to encourage employees to continue in that line. Not only do it individually, but for example, you can publicly acknowledge the entire team by e-mail congratulating them on the job well done.
You must keep in mind that not all people are made to work remotely . You can find someone with an excellent CV, but remotely they cannot execute the tasks and they may not feel comfortable in this work methodology.
Remote workers need to be people who are very detail-oriented and must also have the confidence they need to make small independent decisions on particular tasks.
How to find people who are suitable for virtual work? Typically, remote workers are on the introvert side of the spectrum, are comfortable working alone, and do not require constant contact with other people.
It is really important to meet in person (when the quarantine is over), to have group outings for the entire organization at least once a year , but also smaller gatherings throughout the year.
Sharing experiences and experiences outside of the work environment gives rise to getting to know each other better and thus we learn the non-verbal signals of different coworkers.
They will be able to understand what kind of food or movies they like, who prefers a beer or a soft drink. Those little extra details are huge when you look at long-term productivity . Your team will love to have a better synergy between them, and thus achieve excellent results.
We hope that you will take advantage and motivate your team members to follow some tips on how to manage virtual teams.
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