Note: Today, we're sharing a guest post on managing remote teams written by Charli Tanner, a content writer with a background in IT and HR. Enjoy!
Remote working setups have grown exponentially in the last few years. While they started to gain popularity in the pre-pandemic years, lockdowns drove that popularity to new heights and effectively changed the way we work today.
Companies have now seen the benefits of allowing their employees to work remotely, and many have embraced this format on a permanent basis. Fully remote work and hybrid workplaces are fast becoming the norm, but these relatively new work styles are not without their challenges. Today, we’re taking a look at the advantages and disadvantages of managing remote teams and sharing some tips on how to manage them to increase engagement and drive productivity.
What Are The Benefits of a Remote Team?
First, the good stuff. There are many great advantages to having a remote team for your business. Let's take a closer look at three of them.
1. Your Talent Pool Grows
When you aren’t limited to one location, your talent pool suddenly becomes a lot bigger. You could, in theory, hire anyone from anywhere in the world.
There are no geographical boundaries, so you can find exactly the right person for the job and your business.
2. Company Overheads are Lower
One of the biggest costs for any business is office space. Whether you rent or own the building, you’ll still incur large expenses.
With a remote team, you don’t have to worry about office space. This means no more rent or rates bills, no more maintenance on the building, and no more kitting out that office space with tea and coffee supplies.
3. Measuring Performance is Easier
A remote team largely works online. They need to be able to connect with each other and collaborate on work. This makes it easier for you, as the manager, to measure the performance of each team member - and do it fairly.
Software platforms like Frankli help managers measure employee outcomes through goal-setting, while others include activity monitoring tools that provide real-time data and reports for you to analyse.
What are the Disadvantages of a Remote Team?
Of course, remote teams aren’t all rainbows and sunshine. There will always be challenges. Let's take a look at three of them.
1. Employee Wellbeing is Harder to Gauge
Remote working can make it hard for employees - and managers - to maintain a healthy work-life balance. With no physical distinction between the office and home, it can be harder to switch off at the end of the day.
Burnout is a constant concern, and for managers, it can be difficult to see this burnout coming because you're not seeing employees face-to-face every day.
2. Company Culture and Employee Bonding is Difficult to Achieve
Another big hurdle that companies can face when employees aren’t coming into an office is that it can be harder to build a thriving company culture.
In an office, team members socialise and get to know one another organically. This bond can often make collaboration a lot easier. Inclusion and equality in the workplace can benefit from face-to-face interaction, too. It can be harder to achieve this all this remotely, but it’s definitely not impossible!
3. Working Across Multiple Time Zones Can Cause Confusion
Having the entire world as your talent pool can also come with a downside - employees aren’t always in the same time zone.
An employee working from Spain is nine hours ahead of an employee based in Los Angeles. Even New York is three hours ahead of Los Angeles. This can make scheduling a meeting, or arranging collaboration on a project a lot trickier.
3 Strategies for Managing Remote Teams
As you can see from the pros and cons above, managing remote teams is a little different to managing in-office ones. But there are lots of things you can do to promote efficiency and employee wellbeing.
1. Invest in the Right Collaboration and Communication Tools
Your first step needs to be ensuring you have the right remote infrastructure to manage your remote team.
You need performance and engagement software for managing goals, feedback and 1:1 meetings, as well as secure communication tools. Many teams also rely on a clear time tracking system. Don’t skimp on employee software - it can have a huge effect on efficiency and engagement.
2. Clearly Set Tasks, Roles and Responsibilities
It’s always important to have clear roles and responsibilities for each team member in a business. It’s doubly important when you aren’t in the same room every day.
When each person knows what they need to do, as well as what their team mates are working on, it makes collaboration that much easier. Performance management software like Frankli is ideal for setting and track goals remotely.
3. Ask for Feedback from Your Team
When you're managing remote teams, you need clear lines of communication. Understanding intent can be more difficult in a chat window or email, and things often get missed in a video call. Ensure that your employees know that you’re available to talk whenever they need to.
You also need to proactively ask for their feedback on how they feel the team is operating or how they’re feeling about work. A dedicated, digital feedback channel can work wonders in encouraging your people to open up and exchange feedback more regularly.
How to Get The Most From Your Team When You're Not in the Same Room
The key to managing remote teams is working out what’s right for your company and your people. It shouldn't be left to chance, so make sure you have the proper tools in place and that you know what strategies to deploy for a happy and productive team. Once you have these in place, the rest will follow.