Businesses today are embracing the remote trend and with good reason! A remote workforce promotes productivity and employee retention. People love having the flexibility to work in such surroundings because you don’t score points for just sitting at your desk. Many may also argue that staying away from your office does minimize office politics and employee conflicts. Tools like Slack and Google Hangouts allow us to stay connected with our co-workers.
In a remote workforce, you’re not limited by something irrelevant as a physical location. You save on time spent in the daily commute and are able to spend more time with your family. This not only enhances an employee’s creativity but also motivates her/him to do their best work.
But just like a physically present workforce, a remote workforce has its own set of challenges.
Challenges Faced In Managing A Remote Workforce
Managing a remote workforce is not as easy as it seems. There are plenty of challenges faced by the managers. In this article, we will discuss these challenges that will come your way when you will start managing remote teams.
1. Different Time Zones
If you’re managing a remote team with members physically located in multiple time zones, you’re likely to face issues managing them at one point or another. Scheduling meetings, deadlines and checking in with one another becomes troublesome. This would involve some off-hour scheduling. For some projects and teams, it could also mean night-shifts and early-morning meetings. That’s a part and parcel of managing a global team!
2. Poor Communication
When all your team members are from different time zones or like working in different time, communicating with them is challenging. Remote teams face a lack of visibility and face-to-face interaction, which can make it harder for them to build and maintain trust. Even though we have many tools to communicate with the remote team, a lack of face-to-face interaction and over-reliance on email can lead to feelings of isolation.
3. Coordination and Collaboration Among Team Members
Coordination and collaboration can be lacking (or slow) in a remote workforce. This is obvious – it’s far easier to walk up to someone’s desk than expect them to reply instantly to emails.
4. Building Relationships
Building relationships with your team members and maintaining them is necessary, whether you are managing a remote team or an in-office team. Building a long-term relationship is even more difficult in a remote team setup because there is an absence of non-verbal cues to encourage your communication.
5. Embracing The Company Culture
Remote team managers have to ensure that their remote team members embrace the company culture. It can be difficult for remote team members to abide by the company rules and policies. As a manager, you set the tone of your company culture. Your commitment, working style and expectations should be communicated clearly to all members of your team.
6. Finding Balance and Structure
It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or an employee, you need to find a perfect work-life balance. Work-life balance ensures relief from work-related stress. Remote team managers must ensure that remote employees are doing enough to complete tasks while employees should ensure that their working hours do not drag on unnecessarily. Structuring time in a way that you are able to spend quality time with friends and family is as important as meeting deadlines.
Strategies To Overcome These Challenges
1. Hire the right people:
Start by hiring suitable people who can work independently and communicate well. They should be self-motivated, fast learners, and be able to complete tasks without direct supervision.
2. Onboard New Employees:
Not everyone is comfortable working in a remote condition. Start by allowing them to settle in by providing them an on-boarding process. Provide them notes, guidelines, and a structured policy. Audio-visual aids such as instructional videos can make things easier for them to adapt.
3. Set Up A Communication Medium:
Miscommunication is very likely when you are communicating without physical proximity (facial expressions and body language). To counter this, remote-team managers could use different communication channels such as emails, chat, voice and video calls.
4. Use Project Management Tools:
You could use project management tools to track progress. Softwares like HiveDesk, Trello, and Asana can be used to track if the work is submitted or completed. Using these tools, all the remote members can stay connected because everyone has the access to how work is progressing. This adds transparency and can boost team culture, accountability, and motivation.
5. Use A Virtual Bonding Platform:
You can use some platforms like Slack, Basecamp, and Yammer that gives your team a chance to enjoy spontaneous conversations about non-work things. These things can enhance team culture, encourage collaboration, and build trust. In turn, your team can end up being more productive.
6. Meet In Person:
Make time to meet in person, as a team, once in a while. Get together for a fun day out, a team lunch, or a meeting on-site. Meeting in person reinforces group identity and lets you nurture a team feeling or culture.
7. Provide One-on-One Attention:
One to one management keeps you well connected with team members and allows you to give specific feedback. Team members will feel free to convey messages that they might not feel comfortable sharing in your shared platforms.
A remote workforce can be a great asset, or a struggle, depending on how it is managed. With the right practices, it’s fairly easy to ensure it’s the former!