With the rise of freelancers and digital entrepreneurs, an increasing amount of businesses are having to deal with managing remote teams. As those numbers continue to grow, we now need to teach entrepreneurs how to manage virtual teams. Virtual teams change the dynamics in the workplace and also present a new set of challenges. For example, how do you promote inclusiveness and ensure your team stays motivated if they are located halfway across the world? How does managing remote teams work? Are there any tools or software to make the process easier? How do you ensure the freelancer understands the task and responsibility of completing it on time? Here are some tips that will help bridge the divide of remote work.
Create a strong company culture
Culture can be challenging to define. The easiest way to describe it is that your company culture is the experience employees have while working at your company or on your team. A strong company culture is one where employees feel valued, they respect each other, have the opportunity to get to know colleagues outside their work roles and are working towards the same company goals. While managing remote teams, it is important to use tools that match your company’s culture. If you want a laid back culture, use tools like Slack for communication purposes that have the same culture as you. Organising team activities outside of work hours is important, team members have the opportunity to get to know each other while doing a fun activity. If you go the extra mile and build a sense of shared leadership, you can create a strong company culture.
Hold regular meetings
Encourage team members to meet regularly via video conference, as these meetings can help build a sense of community and familiarity. The team or pod leader should communicate expectations to members of the team so that they’re working towards a common or shared goal. In addition, frequent check-ins with your team help to keep team members accountable for projects.
Despite different time zones or locations, it is important to set up virtual meetings at least once a week where employees are encouraged to speak about challenges, concerns or changes in projects. This encourages a culture of honesty, boosts collaboration and morale.
Organise your work
Let’s be honest, managing remote teams can be challenging and easily turn into chaos. Which brings us to our next point, organise your work in one place and make it accessible to the whole team. Bridge the divide of remote work by implementing proper project management systems where shared information is easily accessible and team members can solve problems easily. Google Drive and Trello are great systems to use where virtual team members have access to shared information 24/7.
Train team members remotely
Be sure to keep your team on the same page as systems, projects and laws continue to change. No matter where your employees work remotely from, they can be assigned the same training methods and material as everyone else. Online learning software like Lessonly forwards all training material and notes to an email account. This is ideal for remote teams as managers can track training as it happens. Other systems like Zoom and Skype allow users to share their screen virtually and record the call. Once the call is saved, team members can access it for information purposes or when they need to refresh their memory. Which brings us to the next point …
Take full advantage of technology
Managing remote teams would not be possible without technology! Video conferencing and live chats are the way to go. If you’re only interacting by voice, then you are missing out a whole layer of communication that comes through facial expressions and body language. Video conferencing allows you to see another team member or client while in the comfort of your home or remote office. Skype and Google Hangouts give you the best video and audio quality.
Email, in particular, can be an old-fashioned tool for live and instant conversation. Setting up live chats affords you the opportunity to speak to team members when there is an urgent matter at hand. Slack and Skype are at the forefront here! When you want to start an “unscheduled” chat, post announcements or even share jokes, live chats allow you to share information instantly and is much faster than e-mail.
Most freelancers are paid by the hour, it only makes sense to have time-tracking tools. Fortunately, there are tools like Harvest to help you track every hour. You can keep track of where employees are spending their time and what tasks they are working on at any given time.
Last but certainly not least, encourage transparency in your company culture and values. Managers and leaders are expected to lead by example here. Even though the freelancers are working remotely, allow them to be involved in all aspects of the business, then share the company vision in order for it to resonate with them. Be honest and transparent at all times and set clear expectations for them.
There are many benefits to managing remote teams! Bridging the divide of remote work is not easy, but with these tips, you can manage a successful team no matter where they are located. You can have a group of dedicated freelancers that will help supercharge your business.