Every time I start a new business, I’m a bit overwhelmed. Seriously, I’ve started everything from a watch company to a product manufacturing platform, and every single time, I’m a bit nervous.
I live by the quote “One who knows all the answers has not been asked all the questions,” and starting a new company always seems to present me with questions I’ve never answered before. Luckily, I’m also a firm believer in learning by doing. So, I jump in, and I come up with the answers as I go.
One of the latest questions I’ve been faced with is how to best manage a remote team. It’s hard to keep people that work side-by-side every day moving forward; it’s harder to keep your online business’ remote workforce on the same page.
I’m not sure if I have the answer to this issue yet, but I have figured out a few things that work for my business. Here are my latest working tips for making your remote team the best it can be:
1) Communication is paramount
Cliche as it might sound, communication is key to many relationships — even those with remote employees. Since they’re not in the same space as you, all they know is what you tell them. Even if you’re on a video call, it’s going to be really hard for them to pick up your non-verbal cues.
You can’t rely on your gestures and facial expressions to get your message across, which means you have to explicit in your writing and in what you say verbally. Once you’ve tried your best to tell your remote workforce what they need to know, ask them a lot of questions instead of assuming they understood what you said. Taking extra time to ask questions may seem tiresome at first, but it’ll more than pay off in the long run.
2) Make your culture top-of-mind
Disseminating your company culture to your employees is hard work. When I was new to entrepreneurship, I tried to help my team align with our company values, so they felt loyal and invested in our mission. This worked to a certain extent, but it wasn’t quite enough. I needed help, and when I started looking for possible solutions, I found Smarp.
Smarp is an all-in-one social platform that helps your organization and its employees stay in the loop on what various departments are working on. As a business owner, I post company updates and content that’s designed to strengthen our company culture, encouraging the exchange of ideas. Your employees are also able to use the platform to voice their opinions so they can become thought leaders at your organization and in your industry as a whole.
3) Encourage collaboration
If you want your remote team to succeed, help them work together. When people work together, they often feel more responsible for their work, and they’re more likely to do it in a timely and well-thought-out manner.
To get your virtual team to partner with one another, hold a brainstorming session. If you’re working on a specific problem, ask the group what they think, and have them come up with potential solutions. This enables everyone to feel like they’re a part of the answer.
4) Keep a real-time working plan
When many people are working on the same project, it’s easy to lose track of its overall progress. This is where a project management tool, like Asana, can come in. Their platform allows you to create to-do lists, outline project information, converse with others in your organization and much more.
Another thing you might want to consider is implementing a time-tracking tool for your organization. Some people work better when they know their productivity and performance are being watched. From a managerial perspective, this tool will give you valuable insight into who you should be praising and who you need to work with more closely to get up to speed.
5) Be cognizant of their schedules
As you try to manage your remote workforce, you’ll find that one of the challenges you face is scheduling meetings. When your workers are in different time zones, you’ll need to plan ahead and identify times that are acceptable to most attendees, if not everyone.
Also, keep in mind that your remote team may work a different schedule than the more traditional nine-to-five. If you’ve got remote team members in Thailand as an example, chances are they’re enjoying a longer lunch break.
Avoiding potential scheduling errors and conflicts all goes back to good communication. Make sure you’re in the loop so you know when your employees are working and when they’re available to collaborate.
Fluidity is key
Running a business is a constant learning opportunity. You must try different things, figure out what works and then abandon what doesn’t pan out. Every so often, it’s important to re-evaluate what’s working and determine if there’s a better solution out there. If so, it’s time to adapt again.
The tips above are by no means the be-all or end-all when it comes to managing a remote team, but they are what’s working for me — at least for now. If you end up giving them a try, let me know what you think!
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.