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10 steps guide on how to manage remote teams

remote, remote working, remotely working, remotely, work from home, home work, hire remote developers, hire remote developer, remote team

Technology has been an enabler at workplaces. With the advent of solutions such as the Cloud, employers are now empowered to hire and manage a workforce that is no longer confined to brick-and-mortar offices.

Gone are the days when organizations had to follow an office-based work culture and suffered losses when the employees couldn’t make it to the office.

Technology helps teams stay connected irrespective of their location. This has helped organizations keep their employees happy and productive and has also encouraged diverse hiring policies.

Even though the transformation has many advantages but it has also created new challenges for the leaders in Talent Acquisition and Learning & Development domain. Leaders now find it difficult to ensure training and reskilling sessions for employees working remotely.

The need for remote hiring and talent management tools has increased like never before.

The “Why” of remote team

According to a recent survey by Gallup, 43% of the 15,000 employees surveyed claimed that they spent at least some time working remotely in 2016, whereas this number was just 4% in 2012.

There has been a lot of debate over why we need a remote workforce despite various facts and figures being presented in favor.

You can only experience the positive benefits of remote work if you have all your ducks in a row. Here’s a useful resource that highlights the Don’ts of remote management, and what to do instead

Here are a few reasons why you should look forward to hiring remote developers:

Emergency Preparedness

Not long ago, several offices in Mumbai and Chennai, bustling Indian cities, had to be shut down because of heavy downpour.

While the organizations that were open to a remote working culture gave work-from-home to their employees and helped business run, as usual, organizations without such flexibilities took a hit.

Companies and clients sailed through because of the telecommuters, leaving us with an example of how important it has a remote workforce.

Building Independent Critical Thinking Skills

A great advantage of working out of office is the team support especially while building new ideas but the flip side is that a lot of workers get influenced and are not able to do justice to this autonomy in the longer run.

It is very important for organizations to build critical-thinking capabilities in the employees. Remote working is a great option to groom employees for such skills.

When employees work individually, there is a lesser probability of their becoming influenced by colleagues.

Building Trust

It’s very important for managers and employees to accept that their bosses can’t be everywhere, every time. It’s important that they build trust among teams and work toward organizational goals with independent decision-making. Employees working remotely tend to be more responsible and productive.

Diversity and Inclusion

 A lot of employees can’t take the daily commute but possess the experience and skills needed for the organization. A remote work opportunity will help them sail through.

New parents or older employees who are passionate about the organizational cause should be encouraged to stay connected remotely. In return, this will help build a multi-generational workforce that will nurture the young minds better.

Millennials and Generation Z will be able to benefit from the vast experience of Baby Boomers instead of forcing them into retirement.

Remote working, no matter how fancy it sounds, is not a cakewalk. Krisha Buehler, HR head and culture cultivator at BELAY – a fully remote firm with over 50 staff – shares great insights over remote hiring and working,

While the thought of working remotely appeals to a lot of people, it’s not for everyone.” She adds, “A lot of people have this vision of it being amazing but if they’ve never done it before they’re not truly prepared for what it’s like – it takes a certain kind of person.

While hiring a remote workforce, the talent leaders need to be extra conscious and responsible. It’s important to note that when you disseminate your team into a remote workforce, the relationship with your employees’ changes and you need to be extra careful.

10 steps to managing remote teams effectively

  • Invest in the right technology

Finding talent while sitting in the comfort of your office seems a fancy idea but can turn costly for organizations. It’s important to invest in the right kind of hiring tools.

Applications using Artificial Intelligence or data-driven insights are the ones that are highly recommended.

You can look for tools such as Recruit or Zapier that deploy analytics and help you track the best applicants in the least possible turnaround time.

Tools like these help you save time and also ensure a great candidate experience which is important while building a remote workforce. (Free eBook – A complete guide to Talent Assessment Software)

  • Chalk out the right processes

It’s very important to make your candidates understand the entire recruitment process when working remotely.

Since face-to-face interaction is not happening here, you need to have a clear roadmap for application tracking and recruitment to ensure clarity at both the ends.

Create your brand guidelines and onboarding kits or candidate information brochures which you can share with your prospective candidates to ensure a better understanding of company culture.

  • Explain your vision well

While technology can enable your recruitment process but adding the human touch to the process is always needed.

It is important to make your candidates look forward to the job they are taking up as they can’t see you every day in real time working passionately for the organizational goal.

If you want a scalable product for the mid-size organizations, sell the vision by sharing what kind of impact are you planning to bring in.

  • Focus on transparency

As Krishna Buehler says, “When I am vetting and interviewing and hiring, I have to be extremely transparent about what it’s like and what expectations we have,

she further adds, “We have to be really diligent in the people we bring into the organization to make sure remote working is right for them.

It is extremely important for you to set clear expectations for the candidate as they can’t stop by your desk every now and then and ask you to clear their doubts.

  • Set reasonable expectations

Be it in terms of defining working hours or assigning project deliverables, it is very important to ensure that your employees and you have the necessary clarity on their responsibilities toward their teams.

  • Ensure data security

With cyber security becoming a key concern in almost every industry, it’s important for you to ensure that employees accessing confidential business information can be trusted with it.

One great way to ensure this is by deploying encrypted Wide Area Networks (WANs) or allowing employees to work from devices provided by the organization only.
Consider upping your security protocols to comply with ISO 27001, an international standard that helps you manage customer information. An easy way to do this is through software and tools that consistently manage your systems.

Secure call recording solutions are also a great way of ensuring security. (Free eBook – HR guide to Cybersecurity at the workplace)

  • Deploy experts wherever needed

It’s important to take help from the experts, especially while deploying the modern technology.

Look for remote talent management solutions that fit into your organizational requirements and experts who can advise you best.

  • Build a sense of community in your team

 Your remote teammates can feel left out at times because of the absence of day-to-day interactions that’s usual in a traditional office setting.

You will need to sometimes go an extra mile to keep their morale high. Let them voice their opinions and ensure you recognize their contributions.

Appreciation goes a long way in ensuring employee loyalty particularly for people working remotely.

You don’t need to even work on elaborate appreciation schemes; a simple mail with a thank you note or a small goodie can be also a booster.

  • Don’t ignore their Learning & Development

Organizations often tend to forget about the L&D of their employees working remotely.

This should not be the case. Organizations can opt for e-learning tools that ensure that all the employees, irrespective of the location, have a personalized learning program.

Through e-learning, organizations can ensure that every employee accesses the same kind of learning program and content.

Switching to a Learning Management System (LMS) can also be a great solution for managers overseeing their team members’ L&D progress.

LMS helps talent heads to track the progress of each candidate and maintain a record.

At the same time, for the employees taking up courses, this will be a fairly transparent solution where they can actively see their progress in real time and improve accordingly.

  • Don’t forget the power of face-to-face interaction

Remote working is definitely the way forward but face-to-face interactions will never lose their charm.

Work on your organization’s travel policies and ensure that your team is meeting each other once in a while.

This helps them stay connected to the culture and enforces team spirit.

Summing up, a remote workforce is a reality; the sooner your organization adopts it, the better it will be.

Accommodating such a workforce will need a reworking of employee policies, talent management technology, and a lot more. This might sound like a lot of work but will be worth it in the longer run. You’ll see.

Challenges of managing remote teams

Managing remote teams presents unique challenges that require innovative solutions and adjustments to traditional management practices. These challenges can span communication difficulties, cultural differences, performance tracking, and maintaining team cohesion. Addressing these issues effectively is crucial for the success and productivity of remote teams. Here’s an overview of some common challenges and considerations for managing remote teams:

1. Communication Barriers

  • Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction: Remote work eliminates the nuances and immediacy of in-person communication, potentially leading to misunderstandings or missed cues.
  • Time Zone Differences: Global teams may struggle to find convenient times for everyone to meet, delaying decision-making and collaboration.

2. Cultural Differences

  • Varied Work Ethics and Practices: Team members from different cultural backgrounds may have varying approaches to work, communication styles, and expectations, which can lead to conflicts or misunderstandings.
  • Language Barriers: Even when a common language is shared, nuances and fluency levels can affect clarity and effectiveness of communication.

3. Monitoring and Productivity

  • Tracking Performance: Without the ability to observe work directly, managers may find it challenging to assess productivity and engagement accurately.
  • Overworking or Underworking: Remote workers might struggle with work-life balance, leading to burnout or, conversely, a lack of engagement with their tasks.

4. Team Cohesion and Culture

  • Building a Team Identity: Fostering a sense of belonging and a strong team culture is more challenging when interactions are limited to digital communications.
  • Isolation: Remote team members may feel isolated from their colleagues, impacting their job satisfaction and mental health.

5. Technology Dependence and Issues

  • Reliance on Digital Tools: The effectiveness of remote work is heavily dependent on technology, which can fail or be inefficient, leading to disruptions.
  • Digital Literacy: Varied levels of comfort and skills with digital tools among team members can affect productivity and collaboration.

6. Data Security and Privacy

  • Risk of Data Breach: Remote work environments extend the risk perimeter, potentially exposing sensitive company data to more vulnerabilities.
  • Privacy Concerns: Ensuring the privacy of employee and company data can be more complex outside the controlled office environment.

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