Here are some ideas on how to manage remote teams
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
When I founded CarHopper a few years ago, I decided to base it out of Miami. The decision of keeping the company in Miami to keep my costs under control led me to master the art of hiring and managing remote employees. While it was financially rewarding to hire remote employees, the management style required to manage off-site employees and contractors based out of different timezones was definitely a learning curve. I thought putting this article together could serve as a resource during these difficult days we are forced to work from home due to the pandemic.
Project Management Tools
If your company does not already use in-house project management tools; products like Trello, Jira, and Slack are the essentials you should immediately sign up for. These platforms will allow you to assign and track progress on tasks, set deadlines, and communicate efficiently which will eventually lead your colleagues to take ownership of their projects.
Limit the number of video calls and keep them short
The food cooking in the kitchen, the presence of a bed, a sofa, a television, family members and dog(s) being around are all factors contributing to making homes cozy and comfortable. After having spent hours working in a calming and comforting set-up, it is normal for your team members to want to get out to get some fresh air. If you are managing remote teams that work in different time zones, it may be even more challenging to schedule a call for a time that works for everyone. Every manager should aim to provide a safe and pleasant remote working environment for their employees. As such, it is important to remember that it may not be so easy for everybody to set up a new environment where personal and professional lives must be balanced even more carefully. Hence, encourage your team to communicate the non-essentials via email or the aforementioned project management platforms, and only schedule conference calls to brief your team on very important matters. In my case, I only scheduled video conference calls to share critical and time-sensitive company and product related updates, live deployments, and end-of-week sync sessions.
Keep your audience engaged
It is generally harder to stay focused and pay attention online, so be sure to keep your audience constantly engaged by keeping your speech, intonation, and motions animated. If you see someone losing focus, use their name and speak to them directly when talking. Try to relate your next sentence to their area of interest (i.e: "Tony, I know you are going to like what I am about to say"). At the end of your speech, reiterate and summarize what you have covered.
Keep the team spirit alive
It can be challenging to make your remote employees/colleagues feel like they are part of a greater team and keep the spirit alive to ensure their goals and priorities are aligned with the company's. One easy way to do this is by providing them with occasional rewards and recognitions to keep them motivated and productive. Sharing meals, grabbing coffee and exchanging jokes are just a few simple every-day interactions that take place in a traditional office space that make our colleagues feel valued. Though you cannot replicate these interactions in a cyber-environment you can (and should) still work towards keeping the team morale and spirit high by holding virtual coffee-breaks or virtual happy hours!