Are you a part of a remote workforce? Are they working at home? In other city? Or May be in another country?
A long time ago – before the days of videoconferencing, intranet and email – teams generally needed to be in the same physical location in order to work effectively.
But those days are long gone.
Now, many of us work regularly with colleagues based in different buildings, cities, countries, and even continents. Team members may be in different time zones, speak different languages, and be part of different cultures.
Managed correctly, remote teams can be extremely advantageous; though things like keeping up with the team’s progress and keeping them motivated can be diﬃcult when you don’t see each other in person on a daily basis.
Here are some techniques to better manage your remote project teams
1. Trust Goes Long Way- Being able to trust your employees is the key for team’s progress. It is important that you can trust your team to work with energy and commitment, in the absence of a manager. This is something that you need to take into account from the very start, when hiring your team. When interviewing for a position, look for the candidate who you believe is going to work well without constant supervision.
2. Be Clear On Expectations- Ensuring that team has a clear understanding of exactly what is expected from them to achieve is vital when working remotely; after all manager will not always be available to remind them, or keep track on their progress directly. It is important to outline your expectations of your team; so that they have a clear idea of what they need to be doing and what they need to accomplish before the next time you catch up. It is a good idea to follow up conversations with emails outlining the next steps for any tasks that are agreed upon; this way both parties have a record of the conversation and its outcomes to refer back to.
3. Communication- It is all about communication. There is nothing above communication. This is the secret source to getting your remote to deliver in the same performance level than the project team working together physically in the same room. In fact, deliver even better and of better quality.
a) Team Building- Firstly you have to do a team building activity. In case of project team is working physically in one location, we have the opportunity to take them to lunch or do a little bit of some challenging team building activity. When you are remote and in different parts of world, you don’t have that opportunity but it doesn’t mean that you can give an excuse not to do a team building activity. You might do a fun webinar or an online team game or a quiz show. Whatever it is, get creative and do some sort of team building activity that involves every member of your team at the start of your project. Leverage the technology that we have and get some sort of team building activity together for the project team members that are in remote locations.
b) Build personal relationships- It is important for any manager to build personal relationships with their team members, and this is no diﬀerent in managing remote teams. This doesn’t mean you have to try to become best friends with your team, but it does mean that you should engage with them on a personal level, beyond simply talking to them about work exclusively. Add them to your FB page to encourage those personal relationships to build. It is important that you do that.
Encourage and Build interpersonal relationships amongst the team. It is the team that is going to come together and deliver the outcome that you’re looking for. If you have got whole bunch of individuals out in different locations, they are never going to come together and build the synergy that teams have. You have got to build that synergy yourself, somehow encourage those personal relationships to build. Find a way that your team members are getting to know each other behind the scope of project because it is your those relationships that you are going to use when your project does get into crisis.
c) Check-in Regularly- Having regular ‘check-in’ calls or meetings with the team members gives them an opportunity to update on their progress, and to make aware of any challenges that they might be having. You have got to do daily stand ups there is no way about it. Get everyone together on the phone or web and do a 15 minutes call- hey here is we are today, this is where we are going today and get ready for tomorrow. You have to those daily stands ups together. They need not to be long, 15 minutes is good enough to go. If you skip out on daily stand ups, you may find your project going out your way because you’re not physically there to watch it. Daily stand ups is MUST.
d) Utilize Technology- There is plenty of technology that can help with the various aspects of managing a remote team. For example, sharing calendars via outlook is a great way to keep up to speed with the schedules and availabilities of your team, and also for them to do the same with yours. Additionally remote collaboration tools can come in very handy, such as Google Docs, Dropbox and Asana, these can be extremely useful in sharing information and assigning tasks within your team. Use all the technology that you have to get that project to communicate together and interact together. Phone conferencing is best that we can do. It is better than anything. Get people together on phone at the same time. Emailing one another is not good enough that doesn’t better your communication because it asynchronous. You need to get a synchronous communication happening by a phone conferencing, video or web sharing.
e) Daily summaries- It is really important to have your project team in a habit of doing a quick 5 minutes email that sums up that they did in a day. Same time you can help them with any issues or concerns that they had. As I mentioned before, remote teams have the tendency of going off in their own directions as they are not working under same roof. Get them to do the daily summaries and ensure that everyone is keeping the pace with rest of the project team.
Hope these techniques help you to bring everyone to work together.
Good luck in bringing the world together on your project.