How to overcome the typical challenges of managing a remote team

Working from home

As coronavirus continues to spread around the world, more business owners are swapping rigid 9-5 schedules and traditional office environments in favour of flexible space and remote working.

With this in mind, John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices, investigates the pros and cons of remote working, and advises on how to overcome the typical challenges of managing a remote team.

Williams commented: “At a daunting time for businesses and families, remote working is going to be essential, in places, to keep business going but also to ensure staff safety. Increased flexibility benefits both businesses and employees, and top talent has already sought out organisations that encourage and support teams working from home, coworking spaces or coffee shops. There’s plenty of data to back up the benefits of working remotely, so work will likely continue even with the challenges ahead. With planning, open lines of communication and the right tech, there’s no reason why companies can’t run successful remote teams for short periods or even integrate more into their future approach on a permanent basis.”

The benefits of remote working

Health comes first – As coronavirus continues to escalate, many are becoming increasingly worried and anxious about being in close proximity with others, including during the working day, and remote working offers your employees the chance to self-isolate and somewhat control the environment that they are in.

Saving costs – With fewer, or no, people in the office, overheads such as lighting, heating, refreshments, and so on, can naturally decrease over time. Also, without the need to commute into the office, the workforce may also save money relating to ongoing work-based costs, such as petrol or public transport.

Retaining employees – By proving you are putting the needs of your workforce first, as well as encouraging a healthy work-life balance, remote working can increase tenure and help to retain employees.

The challenges of remote working

Keeping track of activities, goals and productivity – In remote settings, employees must know how to manage themselves and often wear different hats. It is therefore important to ensure team members are aware of the company’s long-term and short-term goals.

Communication – Getting people in different locations to work together for a common goal can be tricky. That said, the Internet has provided many powerful tools to assist with communication and collaboration in today’s modern workplace.

Hiring the right people – Recruiting the right people is crucial. Not everyone can work effectively in a remote location. Therefore, you must find people who can demonstrate their ability to manage time, handle their workload and deliver results.

Potential solutions 

Communicating with remote teams – For many workers, increased connectivity in personal and work lives has made the transition into remote working a relatively easy one. Faster and more reliable Wi-Fi and broadband, access to cloud systems and team collaboration tools mean ‘the office’ can be just about anywhere. By streamlining your work processes in this way, your team can be more professional, productive and efficient in the long run.

Growing company culture with a remote team – Generally, co-located teams have an easier time building a company culture than remote teams. That said, here are some things business owners can do to create a positive company culture with a remote team:

  • Choose tools that match your culture: Because all communication and collaboration will be done using online tools, it is essential to choose apps and software that match the culture you are trying to create. If you want to create a fun, laid-back environment, choose tools that match this atmosphere. You also want to make it as easy as possible for your remote team to stay up-to-date. Be it via video conferencing tools, chat apps, or the comments section of your project management tool, you need to offer various ways to keep in touch.
  • Recognition: Public recognition for a job well done is one of the most effective and most natural ways to motivate a remote team. Shout outs in a team chat, during meetings or any other way, will not only boost morale and motivation but set a standard for other team members to strive for.
  • Team building: Team building does wonders to foster communication, especially among remote workers who do not see each other on a daily basis. Where possible, create an ‘office social life’ by planning team building activities to boost team morale.