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5 Tips for Managing a Distributed Team

November 3, 20206 min read

As the world adapts to a post-pandemic lifestyle, many of us have been forced to move our jobs into the spare room of our house, partake in daily Zoom calls with managers and overcome technical issues when trying to access the files we need outside the office.

After the initial struggles of setting up however, a lot of people have found that their jobs can be done from home, with some actually working better in their own space and at their own pace, rather than at the office. Home offices are the latest home accessory and companies are reducing overhead costs by finding smaller workplaces to rent and allowing staff to work from home while managing teams on online platforms instead.

Allowing staff to work from home has some great benefits, too. According to a study by Amerisleep, remote workers are 57% more likely to experience job satisfaction than the average American. Why? Well, FlexJobs found that 75% of people who work remotely find that they have less distractions at home and a huge 86% of people feel that working from home actually reduces stress: Rather than fighting the morning commute, organising the coffee and teas for the whole office, and being pulled away from your work to help with other projects, remote workers benefit from a better sleeping schedule, the freedom to wear something comfy and not having to share their favourite snacks with anyone – a win win!

This is all good news for the business too. With your staff less stressed and less distracted, overall productivity levels increase, more projects are completed and the company’s reputation benefits.

However, it’s not as plain sailing for those in charge of managing remote workers. Organizing a team that is distributed across cities – and potentially countries – can be tricky for managers, and there’s a lot of challenges with distributed teams working agile. In today’s article, we will discuss how to manage your remote team.

team planning

1. Set Clear Goals

By making sure everyone in the team understands their objectives, your team can work independently wherever they are, while all working towards the same goal. Management should take time to set clear goals with each individual within the team as well as organising meetings for the whole workforce so everyone is on the same page.

How to set clear goals for a remote team

There are several ways to set goals for a team. One common way is to use SMART metrics. Goals with SMART metrics are all of the following: Specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.

In order to keep the projects moving, setting clear goals with specific deadlines is crucial – especially when your team isn’t just across the desk for you to check up on. By providing staff with a timeline for goals, it is up to them to make sure all the work is completed on time.

team work

2. Schedule Weekly And Daily Meetings

Scheduling weekly or daily meetings is one of the best practices for distributed teams. This is how you can check the progress of the goals you’ve set.

But, there’s also another reason to have weekly or daily meetings with your colleagues: Working from home all the time can get quite lonely – especially in the current climate where socializing on the weekends or evenings is somewhat restricted. By scheduling meetings for the team, you can open up a channel of communication between staff members to feel supported and have a chance to talk about non-work related things, as well as going through tasks and projects that need to be completed during that week.

To encourage distributed team communication, why not take a look at our list of communication team building activities which you can incorporate into your meetings.

team building

3. Use the Collaboration Tools

Rather than attempting to manage your team via email – hoping everyone remembers to click ‘reply all’ or finding out someone has been missed off the thread completely – use online collaboration tools like Leverice.

These savvy pieces of software are cloud-based so can be accessed by the team from anywhere on both desktop or mobile app. The tool has message boards, workflow trackers and individual’s to do lists all in one central space to make managing your team – as well as single team members – much easier.

Leverice has formats to fit a wide range of enterprises, from law firms and software developers to HR departments, school and marketing companies.

Employees working on a task together can use the in-app messaging boards to comment, update and review work with their team, as well as upload documents and share files. Leverice also integrates with Zoom and other video chat services

Progress reports and dashboard trackers can help the team stay motivated – providing them with up to date stats that push them to complete projects.

Find out how Leverice can streamline your department now

4. Hire the Right People

Working with distributed teams is hard enough, but can be made even more difficult by staff that don’t contribute to online discussions and struggle to work independently. Hiring the right people is always trial and error, but by recruiting people who are self-motivating, proactive and enthusiastic about collaborating with the team remotely, things will be a little easier.

So how can you make sure you hire the right people? Well, start by asking questions in the interview regarding their home office, how they start their day and whether they’ve had any experience with remote working in the past. This will help you get a feel for whether they’ll not only be a good fit for the team, but also whether they can be trusted to manage their own time and work without supervision. If they tick all these boxes, they’ll be a great addition to your remote team!

Don’t forget, the added bonus about distributed teams is that your recruitment scope can be much broader. As long as the person can travel to the office occasionally when needed, they can be based just about anywhere.

team building activity

5. Be Patient

When working with a remote team, it’s important to be patient – especially if this is a new setup. With working from home becoming the new norm for the near future, you’ll need to allow staff an adjustment period: Technology might not work immediately, some people may struggle to use collaboration tools and doing team building activities on Zoom will probably feel unnatural to start with.

Be patient with your team members, but also yourself as a manager; working completely remotely makes managing a team much harder, so don’t expect too much of yourself immediately. Understanding the best ways to work, and using our five tips for managing distributed teams will help ease you into the role, and hopefully improve productivity in the long run.

Find out how Leverice can streamline your department now

So there you have it, 5 tips for managing remote teams. By making sure everyone in the team feels supported through goal setting, regular meetings and patience, you can successfully manage a distributed team and increase productivity.

Mac Chhatriwala
VP Product & Marketing
Mac brings his experience of building teams and digital products for fast growing companies in UK, US and Asia to his role as VP Product and Marketing for Leverice. He lives in a small town near Oxford and most of his working day is spent on Zoom calls from his garden!

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