by Ethan Lewis and Christa Escudero

May 13, 2020

Business Continuity 4 min read

8 Helpful Tips to Maintain an Effective Remote Team

With social distancing measures to curb COVID-19, businesses have shifted to a remote working strategy to decongest their offices 

Some organisations are venturing into this uncharted territory, which can be quite challenging.  

If you're running a business that had to go remote suddenly, don’t fret. Here are a few tips to help you manage teams in different locations. 

Maintain digital communication and collaboration 

Staying connected is the foundation of remote work. 

Since your team is nowhere near one another, the only option to keep your connection is building a digital workplace. Start with these platforms: 

  • For team communication: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Gmail, Outlook 
  • For file management: Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox 
  • For project management: Asana, Trello, Microsoft Project 
  • For password management1Password Teams, LastPass
  • For security: ExpressVPNSSLEmail Protection 

Make sure to set strict mechanisms to ensure everyone is using your chosen platforms. This will keep your important organisation files in one place and everyone on the same page. 

Ensure your employees have enough work resources 

Remote team resources

With your team members working from homeenable them with the resources they need to perform.  

Provide your employees with these fundamentals: 

  • Personal computer or laptop 
  • Strong and secure internet connection 
  • Access to shared drives and office software 
  • Proper security systems like firewall and VPN 
  • Contact information for remote IT support 

Have a standard workflow 

Establishing a standard workflow is already a given, but it’s especially crucial in a remote work setup. 

A standard workflow will keep your operations seamless and your outputs in good quality, even when your team is physically apart from one another. 

To start: 

  • Fix regular working hours for your team. These could be similar to your office hours. If you have regular meetings with team members in different locations around the world, take various time zones into account. 
  • Create a process template. Craft an operations manual, reference guide, policy documents, or other documents to standardise workplace tasks. Make sure the whole team has access to it. 
  • Automate your workflow. Use project management tools like Asana, Trello, and Microsoft Project to stay on top of everything. 

Set goals and explain priorities 

Remote team goals and priorities

Constant supervision is a bane — even in a traditional working environment. No one enjoys working for managers who always ask for the status of tasks, especially if the deadline is far away. 

To minimise micromanagement, communicate goals and priorities to your team members.  

That means defining the scope, deadlines, and deliverables for each task or project. Help them understand what your team needs to do and set fixed deadlines so they can work accordingly. 

Focus on the outcomes 

Enterprises are heavily focused on maintaining timesheets. Some go to the extent of having daily monitoring tools for employee activity.  

While these could help, they're not a necessity. It’s not possible to manage every aspect of work done by a remote team, especially when they're spread across different locations.  

In this case, focus on the outcomes rather than the hours worked.  

This helps boost productivity. Team members will realise they’ll be judged on the work they deliver, and not merely on the hours they've put in. 

Build a culture of trust and ownership 

Another aspect of remote work is enabling the team members to take responsibility for themselves.  

This works wonders in creating trust in each other. A culture where every employee is responsible for their tasks helps create a work environment where they can work independently.  

This means you don’t have to strictly monitor their activities. Your team will do it on autopilot. This fosters impressive leadership skills in team members and gets them ready to scale up. 

Check up on your team members 

Remote team meetings  

While you should communicate with each member of your team regularly, it’s also essential to catch up with your entire team.  

A daily stand-up or check-in makes a huge difference. This helps each team member understand their role and know what others are working on, especially in a remote working environment. 

Use this meeting to communicate tasks and set expectations. Encourage your team members to use this time to express concerns, get information, and understand handovers.  

For these calls, use Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts, or other conferencing tools. If possible, have a compulsory video call. It helps team members to see each other and feel connected in times of isolation. 

Be flexible and plan accordingly 

Finally, remote working also brings unforeseen challenges. There might be issues with the internet, power outage, or other situations that cannot be pre-planned.  

To be efficient, create flexible plans and factor in disruptions. This provides you the time to mitigate any risks and keep operations running. 

Give also your team the freedom to work their schedule on their own. Allow them the flexibility to get work done in their own time, as long as they meet their deadlines. 

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Adapt to remote working today 

Unexpected situations at work may rock your boat a bit, but that doesn’t mean you can’t weather the storm. 

Use these tips to build a team culture that gets work done under any circumstances, and you'll see remote working being just as efficient.  

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