Managing Remote Teams. What Are the Most Dangerous Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them?

Managing Remote Teams. What Are the Most Dangerous Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them?

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written on September 2018 by Magda Sowierszenko

More companies are beginning to embrace the freedom and benefits that remote work has to offer. Whether it’s a few home office days or a completely remote team, you might find yourself having to manage your employees in new ways. Like any new process, there will be some pitfalls that you need to make sure to avoid! Not being in the same physical space as your coworkers can make it a bit more difficult, but with some careful thought, you can make the most out of remote work arrangements.

Managing Remote Teams. What Are The Most Dangerous Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them?
Only making use of asynchronous communication

Relying just on emails to keep track of what your team is doing can lead to frustration and inefficiency in everyone’s work. Emails are great for certain things, like setting tasks or getting in writing some important information, but it should be the only form of communication that you rely on. Making use of video calls can save you hours of time going backwards and forwards in emails with your team. It has other great benefits as well, such as being able to physically see your team member. It can be easy to forget that there is an actual person on the other side of the email that you have just received! This will also help foster great personal relationships, which is especially important when working with a fully remote team that you may never actually meet. Even a brief call will help if you can’t manage a full video call. You’ll soon find that misunderstandings and important issues will be found much quicker.

Concentrating on the hours people are working and not the outcomes

A lot of people choose remote work for the flexibility that it offers. This can include working at the times you are most productive, working from numerous different locations and having days off where needed. By getting caught up in the number of hours that people are working, rather than the outcomes, you’ll end up with a lot of time wasting and annoyance. Learn to prioritize the deliverables and give people the freedom that they want when working in a remote job. Tracking hours is also pretty difficult when you’re not working in the same office, so don’t make this a policy for your remote team. The most important thing here is that work is completed on time and to the standard you want.

Managing Remote Teams. What Are The Most Dangerous Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them?
Not having the latest and best tools for remote collaboration

Just using email, phone calls or video conferencing isn’t enough to really get your remote team members to collaborate well. Project management tools like Asana or Trello can make light work of difficult tasks. All team members can see the status of projects, exactly what they need to do and when they need to do it by. Combine this with some communications tools like Slack or google hangouts and you’ll be able to manage your team with ease. When your team finds it easier to collaborate, they’ll produce higher quality work and more of it. It’s a win win situation!

Not organizing physical meetups for your team

This pitfall can’t be completely avoided as some teams are distributed completely across the globe. A lot of remote teams however do have at least some members who are nearby one another. Organizing a physical meetup, with a combination of work and fun, will help build the ties of your team and foster a greater sense of cohesion. Just because remoters have chosen to not work from an office doesn’t mean that they don’t want to socialise every so often with their team. Even companies with workers in different countries have organized retreats for their employees. This one is a bit dependent on having a budget and your team member’s schedules, but if you can pull it off you’ll have a much greater sense of team spirit!

Managing Remote Teams. What Are The Most Dangerous Pitfalls And How To Avoid Them?
Not communicating enough with your team

One thing that really needs to be emphasized when managing remote teams is that it’s difficult to over-communicate. Put regular calls in your team members’ calendars to keep everyone up to date and check in on the status of work. Without being able to just pop over to someone’s desk like in a normal office, you need to make the effort to communicate more. Instant messaging services like Slack are great for this as well, for rapid communication between a team. Do however make sure that your comms are actually useful and not just annoying! You don’t want to interrupt the flow of someone’s work. Keep everyone polite, concise and as simple as possible to really get the benefits from over-communication.  

Want to learn more about how you can make your company more remote friendly?

After avoiding the major pitfalls that can arise with remote work, theres is plenty more stuff to do to make sure everything is running smoothly. Here at Remote-how we’ve put together the best tips, lessons and tricks from remote work experts with real managing experience. Book a call with us to discuss further how remote work can free your company and sign up to the Academy today!

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