These are the five best practices for managing remote teams that I have learned over the years.
The opinions expressed by employees are personal.
Most cutting-edge companies have conflicting visions of employee productivity . Google consents its workers with free food buffets, access a gym and transportation service in an effort to keep them in the same premises and keep them happy. Facebook and Twitter have adopted a similar approach.
Others, such as Automattic, GitHub and Mozilla, believe that the best they can offer their employees is the possibility of not showing up at the office. All three are distributed companies, that is, most of their workers perform their work remotely.
While both models make sense, the second is perhaps more viable if you are a startup that cannot offer free meals or other luxuries for its employees. For these companies, opting for work remotely is an option to keep costs low, grant flexibility to employees and choose among the best professionals in the country, regardless of geographic location.
Collaborative software, videoconferencing and digital tools have removed the barriers that required workers to be in the same premises. As a result, more and more employees are choosing to work remotely. This has positive consequences not so much for employees as for companies: a survey conducted by Regus showed that 68 percent of companies believe that offering workers a flexible environment leads to higher incomes.
Of course, there is an inconvenience to this work model . Not all people are more productive when they work remotely – some take advantage of this situation and do other things when they should be working. Also, contacting an employee for an urgent matter can be complicated.
This model poses challenges, but it is not impossible to implement it effectively. Here, the five best practices to lead remote teams that I have learned over the years.
1. Establish clear communication standards
Depending on the type of work you do, one or a couple of daily meetings could help ensure team cohesion. Mandy Brown, CEO of Editorially, a collaborative writing platform that was acquired by Vox Media last year, advocates that remote teams stay in constant communication. “On a remote computer, the chances of misunderstanding between partners are magnified, ” he wrote.
Brown explains that an effective way to ensure communication is to register meetings so that anyone who has doubts can return to them. Communication is the key to effectively direct a remote and distributed team at different points. Establishing a communication standard and demanding compliance is essential.
2. Optimize your communication tools
Productivity experts will say that the best way to ensure that a remote participant is fully involved during a meeting is to link through a videoconference. Otherwise, employees will simply answer the call while doing other activities.
Today, offices can choose from a wide variety of communication tools, including internal social networks, chat rooms and digital whiteboards. Email is undoubtedly the most popular, but some consider it the least efficient way to communicate . Encourage your workers to use alternatives, but require them to conduct video conferences at least once a day.
3. Pay attention to what happens in the equipment
If, as in most offices, you divide the work into teams, make sure that the communication between them flows effectively. Stay tuned to the overall goals of the team and study whether what each member is doing contributes to this end. You might find that some members work on aspects of the project that do not relate to the overall strategy or, worse, work on the same tasks in different ways.
Also, every leader of the teams you lead must be an effective, responsible communicator, accountable and know exactly what each team member is doing at all times.
4. Create responsible employees
As I mentioned, the main temptation that arises with the model of distance work or with distributed equipment is to take advantage of distance and disconnect from work. That is why it is crucial to set goals and expectations for each employee, and ensure that they are fully met. Try to find a balance between being a controlling boss and just communicate your expectations: stay tuned to your team, but don't overwhelm them.
5. Choose your team members wisely
Due to the distance inherent in remote work, you need to find people of good character and initiative. Be sure to interview them thoroughly and check their references. If something doesn't smell good to you, don't ignore your instinct.