May 1, 2020

5 Biggest Challenges in Managing a Remote Team

Anshika Awasthi

Imagine having to work in your study, seeing 20 different faces every day from 20 different nationalities around the world talking nonstop from 20 different corners, 20 different time zones.

Crazy, right?

As crazy and as fancy it may sound, managing a remote team doesn’t always come easy. What’s more difficult? the remote part of interacting with remote employees through skype, videoconference telephone, emails, or the different cultural interpretations of everyday things happening in the workplace?

Remote work indeed comes with a lot of flexibility & freedom but managing a remote team comes with a set of unique challenges an overcoming them should be the utmost priority for many remote workers. Here are some of the biggest challenges in managing a remote team.

Tracking productivity

To hit big targets a team has to make sure all the smaller tasks are getting completed promptly. Keeping track of the progress of every remote worker in your remote team can be a daunting experience.

Well, some of the management tools show you when the team members have started and finished tasks, but the information is extracted only after these interactions take place. So how do you attain live feedbacks without being coming out as poky?

The solution:

To get more real-time feedbacks of individual remote worker you’ll need remote project management tools which are quick, live, and on time like Status Hero, Toggl, RescueTime, etc.

Status Hero

The platform pings every remote employee to provide a quick “check-in” details about what they are currently up to, their availability, current working status and any “blockers” getting in their way, which means no “Have you started [task] yet” messages. Also, the check-in detail panel is built in a way that doesn’t consume much of your time.

Toggle

Toggle tracks the time you consume to complete a task. It can be used as a measurement tool that gives you an efficiency report thereby, increasing your task efficiency. It’s a parameter that tells you how efficient you are with the specific task you perform as well as pinpoints the issues getting in the way of your productivity. Team managers can discover which task an individual remote worker is time-efficient in, allowing them to assign a task to the most suitable remote worker.

RescueTime

RescueTime is another productivity tool that reports you where your time is wasted. It tells you which apps hold your time more, for example, your minutes killed on twitter/Facebook/Instagram. Similarly, this can be done inside your browser.

Managing projects

One of the biggest challenges of managing a remote work is managing projects when your team is spread in a multi geographic location. It’s tough to make sure deadlines are met and targets are completed.

The solution:

There are plenty of project management tools available. For example, Monday.com, Asana, etc.

Monday.com gives you multi-project views to keep track of the progress of work and assign tasks accordingly. Team members can even see the progress status of colleagues.

Asana is another project management tool that is more advanced than monday.com. it offers advanced permission and dedicated pages for specific tasks/projects you are up to and the ability to communicate effectively.

Apart from software, it’s up to you how you’ve got your management right.

Communication

You hardly communicate with your employees in the same office, now imagine having to communicate with them when they’re not even in the same room! Communication is arguably the biggest problem when it comes to managing a remote team.

Lack of face-to-face meeting can be affected negatively, misunderstandings can appear in emails, etc,

The solution:

Establish a reliable communication medium that your employers can easily access. For example, the workplace by Facebook, which is an easy remote setup, cloud-based software like Trello, Basecamp, Zoho projects, Citrix, etc. Another way is establishing a core time when all team workers are online and available.

Finding the right balance of clear communication with concise work information is important for establishing clear communication which will serve you better in the future.

Company culture

Companies with a strong workplace culture is an advantage in business. When people are united for the same cause which they believe in, results in increased performance. But for remote teams where remote workers are spread in all geographical locations (in the same country, or around the world) it becomes hard to maintain strong workplace culture let alone virtual workplace culture.

The solution:

Making constant contact and including your remote workers in a team making the decision will establish a trustworthy and inclusive environment which will help remote employees to be a part of your remote team.

Training and on-boarding

Training remote workers for a new project or on-boarding new remote workers and training is already hard as it is. Its harder for a remote team to learn new procedures without any briefing from managers and watching and learning from colleagues. Personal guidance from manager in-person can speed up the process. Emails and calls can leave you a remote worker confused with a dozen questions.

The solution:

Documenting all process and providing as much information/guidelines about the new project will be beneficial. Written information can avoid miscommunication, misunderstandings & guessing. Creating clarity and understanding will benefit your remote team.

Secondly, develop a consistent training schedule which should reflect current industry trends and innovations. And lastly, never force anything on your remote workers.

Bottom Line

Managing a remote team is challenging. New work flow need time for implementation, there are challenges in the beginnings but the team gets professional and productive with time. Being open to change, criticism and trust can find a path of normalcy with the team.

Creating trust between manager and employee can be harder given the distance. But with trust and openness, any project can be a smooth sail.

About the author

Competitive, real; loves to keep working for what it wants. An extrovert who lives by her own ideas and methods.


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