As the world becomes increasingly connected, and technologically advanced, more and more companies are opting to hire remote teams and global employees. According to a research study titled “Future Workforce Report” conducted by Upwork, 69% of young managers (mostly millennials and some members from Gen Z) allow their team members to work remotely, and 75% of these managers have employees who spend a significant amount of their work time remotely.
However, managing remote teams and global employees also comes with its own set of challenges. For example, ineffective communication, poor company culture, and poor leadership in remote teams are the top challenges for remote teams.
This article delves into the important factors to consider when working with and managing remote and global teams, such as establishing clear rules and management tools, ensuring access to necessary resources and equipment, and promoting a positive and inclusive work culture.
Remote teams and globally distributed teams
Remote and globally distributed teams are groups of people who collaborate remotely from different locations and time zones. Many tech companies, such as GitHub, Gitlab, and Zapier, have embraced remote work.
These teams can offer many benefits, such as increased flexibility, the ability to tap into a diverse pool of talent, and the potential for around-the-clock operation. However, managing remote teams can be challenging, especially with respect to maintaining consistent communication and ensuring that team members feel connected and engaged.
Setting clear guidelines and expectations help reduce misunderstandings and conflicts within the team which include:
- Establishing a sense of structure and routine
- Helping them foster a culture of accountability and responsibility
- Regular check-ins, video conferences, and using the best tools for remote work can help to maintain a sense of connection and ensure that team members are on track with their tasks
- Establish detailed, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals for the team and individuals
Additionally, providing the necessary resources and tools, such as access to collaboration software and reliable technology, can help to support remote workers in their roles. Companies can capitalize on the benefits of this type of work arrangement.
Challenges in managing remote teams
Managing remote teams can present several challenges, as team members are located in different time zones, have different cultural backgrounds, and may not have the opportunity to interact in person as frequently as with in-office teams.
Some specific challenges that may arise when managing remote teams include:
- Communication: Maintaining consistent and effective communication can be difficult when team members are not in the same location. It may be harder to have impromptu conversations or to read body language and other nonverbal cues, which can lead to misunderstandings or miscommunications.
- Collaboration: Collaborating on projects and tasks can be more difficult when team members are not in the same room, as it may be harder to share ideas and resources in real-time.
- Time management: It can be harder for remote team members to separate work from personal life, as they may not have a clear distinction between their home and work environments. This can lead to issues with time management and work-life balance.
- Feeling connected: Remote team members may feel isolated or disconnected from the rest of the team, which can lead to lower morale and engagement.
- Trust and accountability: Establishing trust and ensuring accountability can be more difficult when team members are not physically present. It may be harder to monitor progress and ensure that tasks are being completed as expected.
- Technical issues: Remote teams may experience technical issues such as connectivity problems or difficulties with technology, which can disrupt communication and collaboration.
By addressing these challenges head-on, implementing effective strategies, and using the best remote working tools to facilitate collaboration and track progress, you can successfully manage, delegate, and operate global remote teams.
Hiring and Onboarding Remote and Global Teams
Recruiting and onboarding remote and globally distributed teams require a different approach than traditional in-office hiring and onboarding. It is important to communicate the expectations and requirements for remote work, provide the necessary resources and tools to support remote employees, and determine the necessary skills and qualifications required for the position.
Publish the job opening on appropriate job boards and websites, and begin reviewing resumes and conducting initial interviews. Further, conduct thorough background checks and reference checks on finalists. And offer the position to the selected candidate and negotiate the terms of employment. Provide the new hire with the necessary equipment and software to perform their job duties. Additionally, set up virtual training sessions to introduce the new hire to the company and team, as well as any relevant systems and processes. Establish clear lines of communication and support for the new hire, including assigning a mentor or point of contact for questions and guidance. Also, monitor the progress of the new hire and provide ongoing support and feedback as needed.
Providing a thorough onboarding process, including access to training materials and opportunities to meet and connect with team members, can help remote and global employees feel welcomed and supported in their new roles.
By effectively hiring and onboarding remote and global teams, companies can set them up for success in their new roles.
Performance and Productivity in Remote Teams
As the team grows and expands globally, it is necessary to evaluate the performance of the globally distributed team members. Performance and productivity can be a concern with remote teams, as it can be harder to monitor and support team members when they are not physically present but it is not impossible if you set clear goals and expectations for each team member, taking into account not only their responsibilities but also how their work fits into the larger goals of the team and the company.
Gather data on each team member’s performance, including completed tasks, deliverables, and progress toward goals. This data was collected through input from team members, managers, and clients.
To ensure everyone was on track, the employers can conduct regular check-ins with team members through video conferencing or other digital communication tools.
To make sure that evaluations are fair, objective measures, use metrics, statistics, and data, as opposed to subjective opinions.
Providing the necessary resources and tools, such as access to collaboration software and reliable technology, can also help to support remote team members in their roles. Also, maintaining high performance and productivity in remote teams requires effective communication, explicit objectives, and the provision of necessary resources and support. By tracking performance and productivity in remote teams, companies can ensure that they can achieve their goals and deliver high-quality work.
Encourage Team-Building Activities for Remote Teams
Team-building activities are an important aspect of maintaining a positive and productive team culture, especially for remote teams who may not have the opportunity to interact in person regularly.
Some ideas for online team-building games could include virtual happy hours, coffee breaks, quizzes, scribbles, or even just scheduling regular video conferences where team members can catch up and chat informally. Yearly In-person events and retreats can also be a great way to build team relationships and boost morale, if feasible.
It is important to encourage team members to participate in these activities and make them a regular part of the team’s routine. By actively promoting team-building activities, companies can help to foster a sense of connection and support among their remote team members, which can improve communication and collaboration.
Define Company Culture in Remote Teams
Company culture is often talked about in companies but in reality, it is a dodged conversation in many organizations. It can be all too easy for team members to feel disconnected and isolated when working remotely. As per TeamStage, 86% of employees actively avoid applying to companies that have a negative reputation.
Company culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, and practices that shape the way a company operates and its overall atmosphere. In remote teams, company culture is especially important as it helps foster a sense of belonging and connection among team members who may not be physically co-located. Therefore, inculcating company culture in remote employees is necessary.
In a remote team, company culture can be reflected in the way team members communicate with each other, the values and goals that guide their work, and the expectations and policies that are put in place to support their work. It is important for managers to actively cultivate and reinforce a positive company culture in remote teams to create a sense of unity and purpose among team members. This can be done through regular communication and by promoting a positive work environment.
Train leaders on managing remote teams
Training leaders can play an important role in helping managers effectively manage remote teams. Some ways that training leaders can help include:
- Providing training on remote team management: Training leaders can educate managers on the unique challenges of managing remote teams and provide strategies for overcoming these challenges. This can include topics such as communication, collaboration, trust building, and team building.
- Offering training on remote collaboration tools and technologies: Many remote teams rely on a variety of tools and technologies to communicate and collaborate. Training leaders can provide training on these tools to ensure that managers and team members are proficient in their use and can make the most of them.
- Facilitating team-building activities: Training leaders can design and facilitate team-building activities that help remote teams get to know each other and build trust and cohesion. These activities can be conducted online or in person, depending on the team’s location and preferences.
- Providing support and resources for managers: Training leaders can serve as a resource for managers, providing support and guidance as they navigate the challenges of managing remote teams. This can include one-on-one coaching, group training sessions, or access to online resources and materials.
Support Continuous Feedback
Supporting continuous feedback is an effective way to improve team efficiency and increase productivity. One way to do this is to establish regular check-ins and performance reviews, which can help team members receive timely feedback on their work and identify areas for improvement.
Another way to get constructive feedback is to create an open and inclusive work culture that encourages transparency and honesty.
This can be achieved through regular team meetings, 360-degree feedback, and the use of tools and platforms that allow team members to easily share feedback and ideas.
By fostering a culture of continuous feedback, leaders can help their teams identify and address issues in real time, leading to increased efficiency and overall team performance.
Check for Bias in Global Teams
Unconscious bias is common in the workplace whether it is an in-office or remote type of work, checking and overcoming bias in global teams in global teams is crucial for ensuring that all team members are treated fairly and with respect, regardless of their cultural background or location.
One strategy to accomplish this is by proactively seeking out different viewpoints and fostering open and transparent communication within the team. This can be accomplished by having regular team meetings, conducting surveys, and utilizing anonymous feedback platforms. Keep track of the key performance indicators of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) in remote teams.
It is crucial for leaders to be aware of their own prejudices and to strive for fairness and inclusivity in their interactions with team members.
Leverage Tools to Facilitate Smooth Remote Operations and Communication
From video conferencing to project management software, having the right technology at your fingertips can make working remotely feel like a breeze. Invest in the right technology that will help your team thrive in a distributed setting. An efficient approach to achieve this is by utilizing remote team management software, which can assist leaders in monitoring assignments, agendas, and ventures, as well as promoting communication and cooperation among team members.
Some examples of remote team management software include Trello, Asana, and Slack. These tools can help teams stay organized and on track, as well as reduce the need for in-person meetings and improve overall efficiency.
By leveraging the right tools and technologies, leaders can ensure that their remote teams have the support and resources they need to thrive and succeed in a distributed work environment.
Driving innovation by leveraging global teams
Global teams bring diverse employees from different backgrounds, who have unique perspectives and skill sets. In this competitive job market, coming up with new and innovative solutions is necessary, and global teams target just that. It will help you to drive innovation and stay ahead of the curve.
The company will see a positive shift such as open communication among the teams and ideas flowing freely between team members, thereby creating a positive and dynamic environment.
Apart from bringing diverse perspectives to the table, diverse global teams drive innovation by utilizing cultural understanding, market insights, language skills, remote collaboration, cross-functional collaboration, and an open mindset.
By effectively leveraging the power of global teams, organizations can gain a significant advantage in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing business environment. To foster creativity and drive success, companies must create an environment and culture that values diversity, and inclusivity and encourages the sharing of ideas and perspectives.
Team building activities for remote teams
Team building activities are important for any team, but they can be especially beneficial for remote teams who may not have the opportunity to interact in person as frequently. These activities can help to build trust and strengthen relationships among team members, which is crucial for the successful operation of a remote team and also help to reduce stress and burnout.
Virtual team-building games are a fun and interactive way to bring remote team members together and build relationships, trust, and collaboration. Some examples of virtual team-building games include virtual escape rooms, virtual trivia nights, and virtual scavenger hunts.
These activities can be organized through video conferencing platforms and can help remote team members feel connected and engaged with their colleagues.
Incorporating virtual team-building games into your remote team’s schedule, can foster a sense of community and improve team performance.
The key to keeping your remote team in sync is communication. It can be especially tricky when we are divided by ocean, connected by the internet, effective communication is essential and is the only way for any team to build a strong bond. To ensure that remote team members stay connected and informed, it is important to follow best practices for managing a remote team.
Popular communication tools for remote teams include video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Skype, project management tools like Asana and Trello, and instant messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams. Also, avoid micromanaging, it sends the wrong message to employees, and as an employer, you will sound controlling and paranoid. Find ways to enforce collaboration, and encourage feedback from the remote teams. As a leader, be open and available to the employees’ concerns and situations.
By implementing these best practices such as setting clear communication expectations and scheduling regular check-ins, remote teams can ensure that they are always on the same page and able to work efficiently and effectively.
Importance of documented processes & procedures
Having documented processes and procedures is crucial for the successful management of remote teams. These written guidelines provide clear direction for team members and allow them to understand their tasks and responsibilities, even in the absence of in-person communication.
Having written protocols in place can aid in ensuring tasks are accomplished efficiently and effectively. Team members can refer to these guidelines when executing their duties or making choices, which helps to minimize confusion and prevent holdups.
Furthermore, documented processes and procedures serve as valuable resources for new team members, helping them get up to speed and become productive members of the team. Overall, the use of documented processes and procedures is essential for the smooth operation of remote teams.
In today’s globalized business environment, the ability to manage remote teams and global employees is becoming increasingly important. With advances in technology and communication, remote work is becoming more common, and organizations that can effectively manage remote teams will have a competitive advantage.
However, it’s important to remember that managing remote teams and global employees is an ongoing process, and it requires flexibility, adaptability, and a willingness to continuously improve the process. It’s also worth mentioning that this is a collective effort and requires a positive attitude, trust, and collaboration from both the management and the team members.