14 Best Practices To Manage a Remote Team

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One of the silver linings of the pandemic was the realization that people became aware of their ability to be productive wherever they work. While it took some effort to adjust and adopt a new way of thinking, a good percentage of employees are now hesitant to return to traditional in-office work as organizations are reopening their doors. 

While nearly 80% of employees have always expressed the desire to work from home for at least part of the workweek, only about a tenth of workers in the United States actually do so. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic has changed that reality for the time being, and possibly forever. 

When stay-at-home orders first went into effect around mid-March 2020 did employers truly encourage and/or plainly require their employees to work from home. And now, almost three years later, about a third of Americans are working from home. 

Many companies are adapting entire teams to a remote model of work and hoping for the best. Just as many businesses have relied on remote work for the better part of their existence and were fortunate to be prepared for what lay ahead. 

So, whether you are new to remote work or quite familiar with the concept, knowing how to manage remote teams should be one of your main priorities as a manager. Having said that, there are basic guidelines for leading any remote team. Let’s review the following 14 recommendations for managing remote teams.

  1.  Establish Team’s Roles & Responsibilities 

It’s impossible to run any business without setting up clear roles and responsibilities for your team. When you define team roles, you can help teammates collaborate and work through projects more efficiently. You must understand your role as a manager as well in applying the company’s policies fairly and consistently.  

Have you tied clarifying roles using a RACI Matrix? This approach will make it easy for team members to know what their specific role is for each task.

  1.  Develop a Staff Onboarding & Screening System 

Effective onboarding is essential to employee retention and productivity. Just as essential it is to have a proper screening when hiring and onboarding a new staff member. 

Consider creating detailed documentation and guidelines to relay as much information as possible to new employees in order to keep them engaged.  For instance, Bromberg developed an interactive online onboarding course with quizzes and videos that new team members find more informative and enjoyable than the old offline approach.  

  1. Create a Clear Company Structure 

Company structures are essential for productivity in any workplace. Employees who work in different places are more likely to become disconnected. Create a team rhythm to prevent this. Meetings should have a clear schedule, and staff members should be aware of what other people are doing so they can understand their roles in the process. There are many solutions helping remote teams to stay connected from Slack and Monday.com to Kintone and other more elaborate platforms.  

  1. Give Team Members the Chance to Input Ideas  

There is no question that you must set rules and requirements for your remote team members. 

However, because every situation is unique, they are the ones who know how to work efficiently and effectively. 

As a result, it makes sense to solicit their opinions on the best way to go about developing this mode of operation. It’s why Bromberg Translations President & Founder, Jinny Bromberg has decided to leave it up to her teams to choose their own work practices. 

Some areas where you may want to involve employees is the method of communication they prefer, or establishing the core hours for working and collaborating. 

  1. Schedule daily check-ins 

This may appear to be excessive, but it is critical for managers and teams who are new to remote working. Whereas email, phone, and texts may have once sufficed, successful remote leaders are increasingly relying on video conferencing to establish the face-to-face interaction that could be lacking otherwise. 

  1. Use Tools to Improve Communication 

Establishing clear communication guidelines gives this process structure and ensures that all team members understand how and when they can report and contribute. 

Basic guidelines should include the preferred mode of communication, such as video conferencing, voice calls, or instant messaging, as well as the best times to communicate. 

Meetings may take place on specific days or times each week or month. To avoid confusion, the expected turnaround time for communications such as email should also be specified. Tools like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams, which most of you are already familiar with, provide streamlined platforms for addressing your regular check-ins with your team and social interactions. 

  1. Manage Expectations on Both Sides 

Putting yourself in your employees’ shoes is a better way to manage expectations. 

Have a realistic idea of what you can expect from your remote team and when you can expect it. Set clear expectations and request feedback to ensure alignment. Don’t simply assume the team understands where they need to focus their energy. 

Let your team know what you expect from them. These expectations can be in the form of: 

  • Company culture 
  • Working procedures 
  • Project guidelines 
  • Style guides 
  • Communication rules 
  • Relationship building 
  1. Focus on results 

This is widely recognized as a best practice for increasing employee engagement and empowerment. Clearly defining the goals and desired results, then allowing employees to develop an execution plan boosts both creativity and ownership, which leads to better results.  

  1. Create Well-Documented Procedures 

One thing your remote team members will struggle with is walking over to another team member’s desk or around your office and asking how they should do something. One of your most important responsibilities is to ensure that well-documented procedures are in place for nearly everything. Make sure that any updates to processes and procedures are also communicated company-wide. 

  1. Establish Clear and Direct Goals 

Setting goals is essential for success in the workplace. According to a 2021 study, those who wrote down their goals were 46% more successful than those who did not. Strong and deliberate goals have a significant impact on growing businesses. 

To focus your goal-setting, make sure to communicate your company’s overall vision, your short-term and long-term goals by using SMART goals, which stand for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound objectives. Being transparent and clear with your team, ensuring that everyone is on the same page and supports your vision is equally paramount to accomplishing your goals.  

  1. Promote Social Interactions 

As a remote team manager, you must devise strategies to ensure that none of your team members suffer from social isolation. This could be accomplished through creative application of technology to increase engagement. 

Gatherings and lighthearted activities, such as online group-based open discussions or icebreakers, can be organized for team-building purposes. It’s why Bromberg Translations director of operations and business development, Jessica Yaacoub, is always making sure to have all the company’s staff gathered around for bi-monthly team-building meetings. 

Companies with a high level of engagement generate twice as much revenue as those with little to no engagement. 

  1. Include Physical Meetings Sometimes 

Just because employees work remotely does not prevent them from meeting in person if the opportunity arises. It requires a lot of thought and careful planning.  For instance, you could travel to areas where your employees live or organize retreats where everyone gathers in one location. 

It’s when Bromberg Translations have planned a “Get Together” trip to Egypt this November where the team had the chance to meet and work together in one location. (Meet our team gathering in Egypt on our Instagram page @Brombergtranslations)  

  1. Automate Tasks Whenever Possible 

Automation, accelerates the workflow. Businesses can automate tasks to help you manage remote teams more effectively. 

You can, for example, use such tools to set auto-reminders for your remote employees and manage Google or Teams Calendar events in a database. 

  1. Invest in Project Tracking Software 

The difference between teams that get things done and teams that don’t is project tracking software. The primary reason for investing in project tracking software is to facilitate remote collaboration. You want to provide every resource possible to remote teams in order to optimize their workflow. Project tracking software, such as Click-Up, provides the team with a single source on what is going on and keeps the team informed. 

Remote working is a new way of working for many, and leading strategies, best practices and new technologies will inevitably arise to assist us. 

As always, it’s critical to remain open-minded and focused on how you, as a manager, can remove roadblocks and foster greater collaboration. 

Bromberg & Associates works with a pool of over 4,000 professional interpreters and translators globally to cover the entire linguistic and cultural landscape, from interpreting and translating to cultural awareness training, staffing solutions, and compliance consulting.   

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