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Over the past five years, I have worked for hundreds of clients providing my services remotely. From SEO consultancy to digital signage and everything in between, I have built a successful location-independent business while managing a remote team.
In the last six months, I’ve received messages and phone calls from close friends and family who have been thrust headfirst into remote working. Many of their questions revolve around managing remote workers and communicating with their colleagues more effectively.
During these important discussions, the same five key points kept coming up:
When managing a remote team, maintaining a clear line of communication is key
Number one priority: Maintain a clear line of communication.
I cannot stress this enough. Any functioning relationship, whether personal or professional, relies on communication. As much as I would love to be able to telepathically communicate with people around me, it simply isn’t possible.
In lieu of telepathy, it’s crucial to be clear and concise in the way you communicate with your remote workers. To accomplish this, I recommend incorporating scheduled and regular check-in calls.
One tactic I discovered very early on in my remote working career and one that I still use to this day, is pencilling in a morning screen sharing call with my team.
In this call, I provide the team with the goals and expectations of the day, while also allowing them to give me feedback and ask myself and other members of the team questions. This has drastically improved the relationships of my remote teams over the years and has led to a noticeable increase in productivity.
Find a time for these calls that work with your business and employees. It is important to remember that in this global connected workplace, employees may be operating in different time zones.
If this is the case, perhaps separate your calls into time zones to be mindful of your employees’ needs.
Trusting your team is crucial to managing remote workers
This is another big thing that takes some time getting used to. As you continue to lead a remote team, you will become less focused on the minutiae of every little interaction.
Consequently, you need to become more trusting of your team and your own judgement. Micromanaging is bad in any working context, and regardless, it’s impossible to do when managing remote workers.
A way to help you improve trust in your team is to reflect on why you hired your employees in the first place. When I first started managing a remote team, I learned very quickly that constantly monitoring their working habits was not sustainable.
Instead, I feel it is important to always trust someone completely until they give you a reason not to. I set my focus on monitoring their outcomes, not their processes.
Because of this, I learned that everyone works differently and that the most effective thing I could do for my remote workers was to provide them with my very clear expectations, and the tools that they would need to reach these expectations.
I was confident in the level of communication my teams and I were achieving. As a result, I felt comfortable taking a step back and allowing for autonomy. This display of trust has paid back tenfold, with my team often exceeding the expectations I laid out before each project.
Setting clear goals and expectations is necessary
While setting clear goals is a part of clear communication, I feel it is so important it deserves its own special spot in this article.
As an employer, it is your responsibility to set clear goals and expectations.
Just as I mentioned before, telepathic X-Men-style communication doesn’t exist. (Can you tell I’m bummed about it?)
You can’t expect a remote employee to complete a project well if you haven’t clearly laid out all your expectations. Setting out clear objectives from the start the hallmark of a good leader. Utilize roadmaps, guidelines or templates for every project.
On the macro scale, make sure to define your company’s goals and targets whenever you hire a new remote worker. That way, you can feel confident that your prospective employee is on the same page as you before work even begins.
Get organized. And then get more organized
If you have a dirty room, chances are you won’t be able to find that perfect shirt for your date or that pair of socks when you’re running late for the gym.
A remote business is no different. If you’re not organized and structured, things will go missing and costs will add up. I learned this painful lesson at the end of the first year running my SEO freelancing business. I lost a high paying client after communication broke down between myself and an employee. An entire job had been lost and not completed on time.
I vowed from that day on that I would be more organized.
If you have just started to work remotely, you can start off on the right foot. And even if you have been managing a remote team for a while, it’s never too late to get more organized.
One method of doing this is to find a routine for your business that works. If you’re much more productive in the evenings, organize your schedule around this personal preference. Or if you know you struggle to keep track of your finances, enlist the help of a professional or invest in an application that monitors your income and expenses for you.
By failing to put these processes in place when managing remote workers, things can pile up very quickly and become overwhelming.
Don’t let it get to that stage. Be pragmatic with how you manage your time and your employees’ time. Put in the extra 10 minutes a day to archive emails or record tomorrow’s to-do-list.
Being organized requires constant daily input, but is one of the best things you can do when managing remote workers.
Be adaptable, utilize technology
Utilizing new technology to your advantage will make you a better boss when managing a remote team.
I found that one of the key things driving my success was when I took some time to discover new technology that could help me in my endeavours of running a remote business.
As a result, I was able to integrate applications into mine and my remote employee’s workflow. Doing so freed up hundreds of man-hours that could then be used elsewhere.
I would particularly recommend that you take the time to research applications that encourage effective communication and the organization of your workflows. Here are some of the best virtual team management tools to help your processes run smoothly. Good luck!
Nicholas Rubright is a digital marketing specialist at Mvix, a company that provides digital signage to improve business communications. In his free time, Nicholas enjoys playing guitar, writing music, and building cool things on the internet.