COVID-19 Resources

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team (How to Be Truly Effective)

Written by David Salters on April 7, 2022

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With the adoption of new technology and employees’ overall success in working outside of the office, employers are increasingly coming to terms with and even welcoming remote work. Remote workplace models are becoming the new standard for the foreseeable future.

However, many business leaders still struggle to address the differences between managing a remote team from one on-site.

The great news is that creating in-depth and supportive remote team best practices can help companies to develop a robust remote workplace model, manage their teams well and yield rewards for both your business and your employees.

By having an informed plan of how to manage a remote team, you can enjoy better employee retention and set expectations for productivity, communication, support and even create some fun within your organization.

Here, we’ll explore five best practices for managing a remote team that you can apply to your business.

1. Set Clear Expectations

One concern many leaders have when it comes to managing remote teams is ensuring your employees do what you need them to do according to your timeline.

Many managers feel uncertain about how to lay out expectations when employees aren’t physically with them (or with their other colleagues) because it can be challenging to identify what their other priorities are and how they are spending time.

But when it comes to managing a remote team, it’s important to set the same expectations as you would for in-office employees. In fact, most employees crave clear expectations and will function better knowing what they are.

Here are some ways to improve expectation sharing:

  • Host regular virtual meetings to check in with your team about their work.
  • Leverage project management systems to identify progress to ensure deadlines are met on time.
  • Provide and ask for regular updates on complex, ongoing projects.
  • Let team members know you expect them to ask questions if anything is unclear about a task or ongoing project.

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Your expectations will help remote employees know what you want from them upfront, allowing them to work confidently in the right direction—no matter where they may be physically located.

2. Equip Your Employees With Necessary Work Tools

Your remote employees will need the right equipment and office supplies to do their work effectively, so it’s important to be sure they are set up well.

At a minimum, the remote employee will likely need a laptop and Wi-Fi. Other considerations may include a camera, headset, keyboard, mouse and any other supply that might commonly be needed for the same role in an office setting.

If you’re managing a remote team, consider offering a stipend when someone is hired or periodically for all employees to allow team members to buy additional convenience and comfort items to enhance their remote workspaces.

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If your team is set up well with a comfortable, efficient and technologically secure workspace, your people will be more productive.

It’s also important to ensure that any technology that your team uses has been vetted and approved by your IT team or technology provider and that you institute appropriate security policies.

3. Support Open and Dynamic Communication

Besides your team’s periodic virtual meetings, invite employees to reach out to you or their colleagues as much as they can. An environment of frequent and open communication will go a long way when it comes to managing a remote team.

According to leadership columnist Brent Gleeson at Forbes, it’s better to over-communicate than to shy away and miss opportunities for clarification and better understanding.

Even in on-site work models, lack of communication is often a challenge, leading to employees not fully understanding a task and ultimately losing valuable time and effort.

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Invite employees to actively participate in meetings and interact with each other about their projects via productivity apps, emails or other communication tools in your organization.

Finally, offer feedback to employees often, whether they are doing well or need some guidance and redirection.

4. Keep an Eye Out for Employee Burnout

Your employees may be working from the comfort of home, but they are still working. And many employees may be putting in more hours when working remotely than they would if they were physically in an office.

Unfortunately, this can often lead to team member burnout, which can be incredibly hard for managers to detect in a remote work environment.

When managing a remote team, it’s important to conduct regular one-on-one check-ins and encourage moments of conversation that aren’t always directly about work, just like you might do on-site when saying “good morning” or asking how things are going.

And it’s important to know your team well enough that you’re able to notice signs of stress or fatigue.

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You may not need to check in daily, necessarily, but let your remote team members know your virtual door is always open and that you value them beyond simply what they produce at your organization.

5. Focus on Team Building and Collaboration

Remote work has several benefits, but there’s no doubt it can sometimes lead to isolation and loneliness.

Reminding your employees that they are all still part of a team and corporate culture is an essential part of managing a remote team.

There are a few activities you might consider to promote collaboration, strong relationships and team-building opportunities, including:

  • Virtual icebreaker sessions that involve sharing snapshots of their home, family, pets or garden
  • Virtual sleuth events featuring the team’s mystery topic of choice
  • Virtual ice cream socials or pizza parties
  • Virtual happy hours

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And if your remote team is generally located in the same geographic area, there are no rules saying you can’t plan real-world events, like game nights, featuring trivia, darts, bowling or anything your team thinks would be fun and fortifying.

6. Trust Your Employees

Ultimately, if you’re managing a remote team, you must trust your employees the same way you would if they were working in the office.

Set best practices and policies for them to abide by, but don’t forget to establish that you believe in them to use their time well and meet deadlines when working remotely. As long as they meet productivity goals and help your business succeed, they are doing great in any setting.

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Learn More About How to Manage a Remote Team and Connect With an Advisor

Our recruiters and talent advisors at Warren Averett Staffing & Recruiting can help you assess the right remote or hybrid strategy for your organization and help you meet the challenges of managing a remote team.

Schedule a time to chat with us to discuss how we can help your company navigate the new workforce landscape.

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