If you’re working with a remote team, you’ve seen that there are many challenges to effective remote team working. It’s worth taking the time to find the tips that will help you overcome these remote team challenges.
For remote teams, best practices for effective remote work fall into three categories: team building, communication and project management. Keep reading for 5 tips that can help you become more effective in each category.
Here’s a great infographic created by our friends at Venngage — The Infographic Maker that shows all things you need to do to be more effective while working remotely.
Now let’s take a closer look at these principles for working with a remote team.
Teambuilding in the Remote Workplace
If you’re not inheriting an existing remote team, you need to know how to build a remote team. A critical step in effective remote team working is having a well-bonded team.
How to Hire a Remote Team?
Even if you have a remote team ready-to-go, you still need to understand remote team building. Eventually, you’ll need to hire new team members as you grow or replace the existing remote workforce.
A common mistake is to hire too many new members at once. A better strategy is to hire one remote team member at a time.
You’ll be able to add members with the fit you need after observing your newest team member’s strengths, weaknesses, and cultural fit. Proper team composition is a tremendous factor in effective remote team working.
How to Bond with a Remote Team?
A crucial part of your remote workforce strategy ironically has nothing to do with the actual work. Instead, it’s about building a remote team culture.
Culture comes more naturally in a traditional office. Since your remote working strategy has employees in different locations – possibly around the globe – you’ll need to put extra effort into remote team building.
Solving the question of how to engage remote teams gives you a productive team that will work cohesively and help each other out.
Rather than scratching your head wondering how to unify a remote team, try some of the following activities:
Casual Slack Channel
Add Slack channels where your remote workers can post things unrelated to work. These give a glimpse into their lives. Content could include photos of their day, inspiration, or a team-wide music playlist.
Humans learn through play, and games can go a long way in pulling people together. Something as simple as a game of Words with Friends between colleagues or teams opens the door to less formal team interactions and builds rapport.
Stronger human bonds lead to more effective remote team working.
Virtual Fitness Challenge
Bring some fun and competition to your remote team with a virtual office fitness challenge. Everyone sets phone-tracked fitness goals, such as steps-per-day.
Question Games and Quizzes
Revealing quizzes help people get to know the person behind the professional facade by exposing their more quirky personality traits. You could also play a game such as three truths, one lie – the rest of your team has to guess which is the lie. Sharing bucket lists also helps people get to know each other’s hopes and dreams very quickly.
Office Photography Competition
Give your remote workers a reason to showcase their remote workspace by hosting an office photography competition. The photos could even be anywhere in the worker’s environment. The goal is to give context to the person.
How to Collaborate and Communicate with Remote Employees
Having a bonded remote team isn’t enough, though. Finding out how to collaborate effectively if your team is remote has challenges you won’t find in a traditional office.
Remote Team Collaboration Software
Fortunately, remote team collaboration is easier now than ever. A variety of remote work tools in the form of apps and software are now available. These make communication with remote employees that much easier.
One popular tool for remote team communication is Slack, a real-time chat application. Chats can be organized into customized channels for particular topics or projects. You also get video conferencing and integrations with other apps.
In the absence of Slack, similar solutions can be cobbled together with free tools like Discord, Telegram, and Skype.
Other remote work tools like Krisp eliminate background noise from your calls, so you can ensure remote employee communication is efficient and precise.
Remote Collaboration Best Practices
Don’t waste your time – implement these best practices for remote communication immediately. Help your team understand why they’re essential for effective remote team working.
Try these tips for better remote communication in business:
Develop Effective Remote Communication Skills
Even if you haven’t worked with a remote team, you’ve probably experienced some of the ways remote work communications can go wrong.
Massive garbled email threads, information lost through texts and chat, and misinterpretations are all too common in communication for remote teams. Effective remote team working requires timely and precise communication.
Be Clear and Concise
Sounds obvious? Workers forget these principles all too often. Eliminate fluff, use simple sentences, and pack key concepts into bullet points.
Avoid Messy Email
Email is popular and easy – but often creates confusion. Information gets lost in emails, especially when they get to Inception levels of quoting.
Stick to chat channels as much as possible to boost effective remote team working. Extract relevant quoted information. These practices help your remote team avoid wasting time on a virtual archeological dig to understand the message.
Use Voice and Video When Possible
Most communication is nonverbal. When communicating through text, your remote team can’t see your body language or hear your vocal tone. This lack of information can hinder effective remote team working.
Because of this, remote collaboration best practices include getting the other person on voice or video chat as much as possible. These more personal remote communication methods are particularly important if the topic could be seen as hostile or sensitive.
If you have to use text, be careful with exclamation marks, emojis, and the word “no”. Without the accompanying tonality, remote team members might misinterpret the meaning.
Write down key concepts and bullet points, and send them in a follow-up email after the call to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Avoid Call-scheduling Hell
With voice and video chat as a new norm, don’t worry about scheduling every call. All too often, this scheduling results in a lengthy back-and-forth exchange.
Cut to the chase and pick up the phone – if they don’t answer, that’s ok. In the long run, it will lead to more effective remote team working through better communication.
Consider Timezone and Cultural Differences
Just because it’s lunchtime where you are doesn’t mean the remote worker on the other end of your call is munching on a sandwich. It might be 2 AM for them. Keep timezone differences in mind.
Along with timezones, be sensitive to cultural differences. For example, western culture tends to be more open and direct, while eastern cultures are often more formal and reserved in professional communication. Don’t be insensitive in your remote employee communications.
Use Task-tracking Software
Remote team collaboration hinges on each member knowing what needs to be done and knowing their colleague’s progress. Effective remote team working requires that your entire team is on the same page.
Task-tracking software is critical. Supplement interpersonal chats with a shared to-do list or project management software.
File-Sharing and Note-Organization Tools
Almost every remote team will need to share files and notes. Email attachments create chaos. Instead, consider file-sharing software like Google Drive or Dropbox. For notes, Evernote, OneNote, or a shared wiki are excellent ways to communicate remotely.
Effective Project and Remote Worker Management
Leadership is hard enough when face-to-face, but leading a remote team brings extra challenges to the table.
Many of the challenges of leading remotely can be alleviated by following the remote communication and collaboration tips listed above.
When managing a remote workforce, proven practices apply for effective remote team working. Solve the challenges of managing remote employees with these best practices.
Tips for Project Management and Managing Remote Employees
Encourage Team Morale and Give Rewards
Proper teambuilding goes a long way when searching for answers on how to effectively manage remote employees. However, building remote team morale takes this a step further.
Ensure you have ways to show recognition to employees who achieve great results. You’re not just supervising remote employees – you’re also encouraging them. Being a remote manager means that you need to make sure the rest of the team can see their success and reward.
Be Open to Feedback
The best leaders are open to feedback and apply it when relevant. For successful remote management, let your remote employees that you’re open to feedback.
Being open isn’t enough, so let your remote team members know the best way for them to send you their feedback. This might be email, video calls, or a private text chat. The feedback will help you identify how to increase effective remote team working.
Make Objectives Clear
You understand the goals – but that doesn’t mean anyone else does. The added physical distance only adds to the confusion.
Use a project management system when leading remote teams to ensure everyone understands individual tasks and responsibilities.
Ensure Communications are Effective
Project management for remote teams relies on the team communicating effectively. If you find your team doesn’t understand you or each other, double-check the collaboration and communication tips listed earlier in this article.
Make sure your team understands why these remote communication tips are essential. They might need a nudge to get on voice calls, for example. Confusing email threads with slow responses are often the intuitive approach, but they reduce effective remote team working.
Understand Your Remote Team as Individuals
Knowing a person’s strengths and weaknesses become critical when you need to manage a remote team. It lets you predict potential roadblocks and put them in the best position for effective remote team working.
It can also help you spot team members who might be planning to leave or who may need to be let go. Keep a shortlist with replacements, so you don’t find yourself a worker down at the worst possible moment.
On top of efficiency, people want to be understood. Feeling that you’ve invested in them encourages them to go the extra mile in productivity. Getting to know individuals is harder in remote teams – so you’ll need to put in the extra effort.
Be an Incredible Communicator
The number-one skill for how to effectively manage remote employees? Your communication. Effective remote team working is the responsibility of the leader, and the leader sets the example.
It’s easy to fire off a quick-and-dirty answer to a question, but this leaves your team members feeling ignored and resentful. Since they can’t walk into your office and command your full attention, you need consciously ensure that your responses don’t seem dismissive or leave out critical details.
On the other hand, giving out excess information during remote team management isn’t a good thing. Too many announcements might mean that your remote workers might ignore them or get confused.
If this takes more attention than you have available – you have a lot of tasks while managing remote employees, after all – consider delegating this responsibility to someone else.
Apply These Principles for More Effective Remote Teams
While these remote working challenges might sound overwhelming, the solutions are achievable with awareness and practice. A tight-knit team that effectively communicates can follow a great leader to effective remote team working.