If your first crack at managing a remote team was back in 2020, then you probably thought that working from home would be short-lived. Yet, here we are in 2022, and, by all accounts, remote work isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
In fact, Upwork estimates that, by 2025, 22% of American workers will be remote.
However, if you’re among the 72% of U.S. bosses that want to bring remote teams back into the office, you may want to think again. According to an Owl Labs survey, 32% of employees would quit if they were forced to return back to their in-office settings.
This being said, it’s important to get comfortable with remote work and learn how to manage a remote team in an effective and healthy way.
Here are some tips to get you started.
Invest in collaboration tools
When you’re physically working right next to people, it’s easy to know where they are with projects. However, put a few miles (or a few thousand miles) in between you and your team, and things can get a little tricky.
This is where collaboration tools come into play.
For companies willing to provide a remote work environment long-term, online collaboration tools can provide a whole slew of benefits.
Benefits of online collaboration tools:
Project management tools give the entire team the ability to seamlessly collaborate, share files, update statuses, and finish projects together.
Real-time editing tools like Google Docs allows team members to access multiple versions of a document, edit one document at the same time, and share and access files from wherever.
Instant messaging tools, like Slack, give teams the option to create project-specific chat rooms, share content with each other, and get instant answers to questions.
Video messaging platforms provide the perfect hub for face-to-face conversations and formal meetings that are no different than in-person scenarios.
Develop a new onboarding process
The employees you sent home back in 2020 were already fully-fledged team members, well-versed in company policy and culture.
However, the time to hire and onboard new employees will come (if it hasn’t already). And handling this process can be significantly more difficult without the proper preparation.
To get ready for new remote hires, here’s what we recommend:
Pre-record training videos that can help new hires learn company tools, processes, and technology.
Create a slide deck or document that outlines step-by-step instructions for the first day and first week of work. This should include documentation, training, and initial tasks.
Consider implementing a PEO outsourcing solution that streamlines and automates the hiring process for you. These solutions can wrap payroll, compliance, benefits, policies, and more all into the same platform.
Check out our 9-step new hire checklist for managers
Cultivate company culture
Cultivating a sense of culture comes more naturally when we’re in physical proximity to each other. But one of the keys to managing a remote team is realizing that people can be close even when they’re miles apart.
Your company values and mission form the foundation for your company’s culture. So, make sure to find ways to get your values and mission in front of your remote employees.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Reinforce company values through internal platforms. As an example, this can be achieved through an automated message that’s sent daily through the company’s instant messaging platform.
Recognize employees who exemplify the company’s values on communication channels. You can send out a weekly or monthly email that spotlights a member of the team.
Post regular videos of top-level leaders who advocate the company’s values and mission. As another option, consider sharing short YouTube videos or podcast episodes that align with company goals and values. Allow your employees to listen or watch on company time.
Don't forget to be social!
When learning how to manage your team remotely, it’s also important to learn how to encourage relationship-building between employees.
Nurturing positive and supportive relationships between remote workers is possible and not as difficult as many people would think it is. If you put the prep work in, you’ll likely see the results sooner rather than later.
Here are a few simple ideas that can help bring your remote team closer together:
Create one-on-one virtual coffee breaks.
Take your virtual meetings outdoors
Order takeout for your team and eat together
Encourage personal (but professional) conversations on a general messaging channel
Keep Reading: How to tell if remote employees are working
Find ways to foster creativity.
Stagnating innovation is a huge concern for remote leaders.
In an office setting, creativity thrives with chance encounters, strong friendships, and the constant exchange of ideas. However, this doesn’t need to disappear simply because you’re not in the same building.
Here are a few tips that can help with creativity in a remote work environment:
Encourage new ideas. Create a chat room or project board devoted to any and all ideas.
Encourage new settings. Let your employees know that it’s okay to work from a friend’s home, a coffee shop, or a park. New places can spark new ideas.
Encourage cross-department interactions. Give coworkers who don’t normally speak with each other the opportunity to interact. This can be a great way to find creative ways to improve internal processes, communication, or systems.
Related Content: How often should employees be evaluated?
Managing your team remotely can be a good thing
There are many advantages to adopting a fully remote team. This includes happier, healthier employees.
However, this doesn’t always equate to more productivity.
But if you learn how to manage a team in a way that leads to more collaboration, creativity, and a sense of belonging, you’ll have healthier, happier, and more productive employees.
For more help developing a strategy for remote team success, contact Teamworks Group today.