I am a big fan of remote teams. I have published several posts on this subject. When I got this guest post from a talented young writer, Helen Eagleton, I decided to publish it. I hope you find it to be as informative as did I.
Evolving internet technologies are making it easier to perform tasks while away from the office. In that sense, hiring remote talent will enhance the skillsets of your team and save time and money. This can add significant flexibility to your business planning.
However, having a virtual team may present some challenges, such as maintaining effective communication. You may have difficulty integrating virtual employees with your team due to differences in culture, language, and time zones.
Below, you’ll find effective solutions to the major challenges of managing remote teams.
Focus on Communication
In order to function well together on objectives, all your team members should understand one another’s duties and team priorities. Remote employees in particular need to feel that their input is welcomed. They must be included in progress reports and updates to discover who’s working on which assignments, or be aware of all issues and requirements. In other words, communication is the key here.
Video chat or video conferencing software can provide face-to-face encounters that are essential to building rapport among team members. By seeing facial expressions and body language, the team members can learn more about each other’s emotions and character. This is important to building trust.
Regular communication with the rest of the team enables remote employees to feel comfortable, reduce stress, and establish relationships. As the leader, you’ll have to make adjustments for time differences and find ways to balance the workload.
Remote workers should be encouraged to connect through both video conferencing and non-verbal communication frequently. Everyone on the team should be familiar with your team’s mission and the overall vision of the company. Remote workers especially need to know what your expectations are at all times.
Leverage Available Technology
Having the right technologies in place is crucial. Without reliable means of communication, your remote teams won’t be able to stay productive. However, the most powerful or popular solutions available won’t always be the best fit for your team.
You need to evaluate the needs and skills of your entire team and find the technologies that will allow them to communicate better and improve their output. Email, instant messaging, and VoIP (voice over internet protocol) allow remote workers to engage the rest of the team over multiple channels with the speed of online networks. File and application sharing via the cloud can also improve alignment of remote workers with team functions.
It helps in developing teamwork and productivity if everyone is using the same tools. You don’t want virtual employees to be using applications or file types that conflict with other software in use. This could lead to miscommunications, reworks, and delays.
You should also look for cloud-based productivity suites like Microsoft Office 365. This is an excellent tool for geographically dispersed teams. It includes features such as scheduling meetings, sharing notes, displaying teamwork calendars for everyone to see, versioning of document storage, and the ability to set up dedicated team websites or email exchanges to make real-time collaboration possible.
Keeping your virtual workers motivated is a hotly debated subject. Motivating people is about discovering ways to explain and influence behavior, whether it’s emotional need, desire, or environmental conditions.
Remote workers who are motivated will be more dedicated and productive. This saves your company money through better collaboration, reduced employee turnover, and more attention to detail. Happy employees will enjoy more career satisfaction and a better work-life balance.
Creating a positive atmosphere is the first step in motivation. Employees become motivated on their own if you provide fair incentive, career opportunities, and constructive feedback.
It helps to further motivate remote employees if they feel they’re an important part of the team. Some successful team building ideas include video conferencing for social as well as business reasons, such as virtual coffee breaks and facility video tours. You can also encourage team members to exchange photos, share experiences, or watch favorite films.
In summary, managing remote teams is becoming more important in modern business. You have to find a way to make them feel welcome and communicate freely with the rest of the team. Choosing the right software to keep them connected and informed is a vital step, but you must also find ways to help remote workers stay motivated and engaged with their work.
Properly managed, remote teams can provide a great competitive advantage.
About the author:
Helen Eagleton, a freelance blogger from Boston, follows topics in the realm of education, technology, digital marketing, and business in general. When she’s not researching for her next article, she enjoys watching documentaries and exploring the nature. Reach her @eagleton_helen