Tips for managing project and your remote team
Nowadays, there are numerous skilled people around the globe that can help you develop your business. When it comes to IT outsourcing, it becomes more enticing to hire employees in other countries, states, and cities to join your team. However, depending on the industry, adding them to your team present unique challenges as these remote workers are often either incomprehensible or the buzzword du jour. So how to keep team cohesion, productivity, and morale while still managing project effectively?
Here are some tips to make everyone productive and happy:
Get together face-to-face at least several times a year
The energy from these gatherings provides a unique opportunity to have big discussions around the company on team’s future, vision, and culture that would be impossible to do with employees spread around the country. They allow building more rapport in individuals than weeks of remote efforts.
Any technology has its mishaps. So it is important consider the time zones and understand that not all people will be immediately available when a project manager needs them. The trick here is to keep options open. No one feels treated unfairly if everyone compromises a little. So be adaptive and balance schedule inconvenience.
Do not forget about your employees’ career paths
Most managers think that their remote team members as mercenaries are helping them get their things done. However, they all have their own aspirations and goals just like those people in the office. So in order to avoid frustration or confusion, understand the career paths available by being remote and make sure all your team members make progress on their goals.
Be creative when building your team
When your workers are geographically scattered, it is crucial to establish a centralized culture. For example, make sure that all remote workers know each other — even if they are working on the different projects. Do not forget about their birthdays!
Add people on Skype
Always get the remote employee into the meeting. Even if you’d have interrupted someone in the office, then it is worth waiting until they are available, or bringing them in. You goal here is to create the same working environment for everyone.
Make their workplace an extension of yours
It is crucial to support remote workers and their satellite workspace the same way you would at the head office. Even if they are not physically present every day, investing in their workplace makes them feel invested in a company. This means providing your remote team members with IT support for troubleshooting, and supporting them with all office basics like a computer equipment, chair, desk, etc. It is essential for them to build a comfortable work environment. Remember that their workspace is not on an island.
Use video meetings as much as you can
The majority of human communication is not verbal. Video allows seeing numerous non-verbal clues that can tell you way more than a chat or audio call will ever reveal. It gives you the opportunity to fix issues when they are relatively small for your remote employees.
Make time for small talk.
When managing remote workers, you should first of all build rapport with each member of your team. It is a critical part of any management. Rapport does not come from talking about/doing work. It comes from getting to know your remote workers as complete persons. Rapport is what will give you the benefit of the doubt when you’ve made an unpopular decision or a mistake, trust your team members can come to you with things important to them, or help you work through issues each employee has. Also, NEVER cancel a one-on-one talks.
Remote work can be challenging. Although it required some adaptation, managing project when workers are geographically scattered does not mean that it will be uncomfortable. If done right, there is a high probability of happy and productive employees and a low risk of communication challenges, and decreased productivity. All you need is to be creative, open-minded, and adaptable.