Managing Productive Teams Remotely – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, companies were forced to shift to a work from home model or stop working altogether. Widespread lockdowns imposed by governments meant that employees could no longer come to the office or meet face-to-face.
This meant that businesses had to change their approach and strategies to suit the work from home model. Meetings were replaced by video conferencing and regular communication required companies to adopt solutions like Slack, Trello, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom, among others.
So, if there’s one thing that we’ve all learned through this pandemic, it’s how to use digital solutions to manage both your tasks and teams remotely while ensuring great productivity.
We understand these things well. SSC is a truly global company and we’ve got team members in 7 countries — all working remotely. Over the years, we’ve learned some important lessons about managing remote teams from focusing on work-life balance to nurturing relationships with each other. Here’s what we’ve learned so that you can implement it in your organizations too.
Strategies to Manage Remote Teams Effectively
Over the course of the pandemic induced remote working tenure, we’ve learned several things about how you can make your team productive even while working remotely.
Here are the key strategies that we employed to make the most out of the situation:
1. Engagement is Key
When you’re under a single roof, it’s easy to engage with your team. You may meet them for conversations regularly and even the employees may interact with each other multiple times a day.
However, these things change when you go remote. Everyone’s at a different location and this may lead to lower engagement. That’s why you need to put in a special effort to engage with your team and encourage them to communicate regularly too.
We leverage Asana to manage our tasks and Skype to communicate and engage with our team. Some of the other things that we prioritize while working remotely are:
- Constant and open communication to avoid communication gaps.
- Clear deadlines to ensure that things are completed on time.
- Realistic workloads that can be completed in stipulated time and don’t hamper the team’s work-life balance too.
- Constant prioritization of work and being flexible when needed.
- Clear communication lines with clients to deliver services that match their expectations.
This has helped us smoothly transition into this new normal.
2. Daily Huddles
In an office environment, it’s easy to get everyone aligned on a common goal. You’d typically interact with most of your key members regularly. However, when you’re working remotely, it’s essential to make this a daily ritual.
We followed the practice of having daily huddles with the key team members. This helped us keep each other updated on things to ensure that we were all aligned and on the same page.
3. Regular Team Meetings
Just as it’s important to get your key team members aligned regularly, it’s important to get your team involved as well. This is where team meetings come in handy. Here are the advantages of hosting such meetings:
- They help you interact with your team in real-time and engage them
- You can share your goals and vision with them
- Helps bring your team together around the goals
We hold management team meetings twice a week to ensure that we’re all on the same page. Our team works across 7 countries so we factor in the time zones and also the times when people are working to decide on meetings. To manage all the projects and tasks, we leverage Asana which helps with the smooth functioning of our company with a globally distributed team.
4. Share Success Stories
When you’re working remotely, it can be easy to get demotivated. In fact, about 8% of remote workers face motivational issues, according to a study. One of the core reasons for this is that you may lose a sense of purpose or goal when you’re not working with your team around.
This is exactly why you need to give sufficient impetus to boosting the morale of your team. One approach that we find very helpful here is that of valuing each individual in the organization. To showcase their importance, we explain how they contribute to the overall goals of the company. Yet another strategy that works extremely well for this is sharing success stories, and more importantly, celebrating those successes.
We regularly share even the smallest of success stories and celebrate them together, virtually. This has helped us keep the team’s motivation levels high.
5. Encourage Break Out Meetings
Break out meetings are an essential component of growing your business, irrespective of whether you’re working remotely or in the office. They work as a great way to engage your team and also get them to think and learn by discussing things among themselves.
Platforms like Zoom support breakout meetings and have helped us conduct numerous such breakout meetings throughout the year.
6. Put the Onus on Your Team
A great way to boost the trust that your employees have in your company is by trusting them to work productively. For this, you should get them to measure their performance and report it, instead of the other way round.
This sort of self-assessment not only reinforces your trust in them but also helps them figure out how much effort they’re putting into work. Such an assessment and realization can improve their productivity and push them to do better.
7. Share New Ideas
Yet another strategy that’s worked for us is sharing new ideas. We not only shared new ideas but also encouraged the team members to come up with theirs too.
Not only that — it’s also important to face and solve all the challenges together — as a team.
This sort of participation from the team gives them a sense of purpose and also helps the entire team tide over the problems together. This can dramatically improve the productivity of your team as well.
It’s equally important to expect and welcome mistakes. To deal with them, we, at SSC, hold meetings about them. The purpose behind these meetings is to figure out the root cause of the mistakes so that we can avoid them in the future. We also discuss various challenges faced by the team during management calls to figure out how to face them, just like the Avengers do.
8. Encourage Play and Team Fun
When your employees are in the office, you’d likely have sessions or days when the team could have some fun. Even something as simple as a coffee break would work as a great way for your team to bond.
While managing a remote team, you should ensure that you encourage the team to spend some time on play and fun. Even a virtual coffee break would be a great idea.
At SSC, we take fun and play as seriously as we take our work and that’s why we have dedicated activities to keep our team from over 7 countries engaged. Some of the activities we do are:
- Weekly virtual stretching classes with a personal fitness instructor.
- Monthly activities for team building like a virtual cooking class with Gordon Ramsey.
- Sending out quarterly swag boxes to make everyone feel special and a part of the team.
This helps our team bond better and also keeps the spirits high.
9. Combine Video and Text
Video meetings can be a great way to have some face to face interaction with your team. However, it’s not practical to do video meetings all the time. You need a platform that can help your team members interact among themselves and also as groups. That’s why you must strengthen your team’s communication by using some messaging tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams.
These tools can allow your employees to communicate with each other and also allow them to coordinate among themselves. They also help them manage day-to-day processes.
By driving your team’s engagement, measuring its performance with clear metrics, and sharing your team’s successes, you will get your team aligned around a common goal. This will help you measure the team’s overall performance and success.
You must also encourage your team to engage among themselves, have some fun time, and also support them with a text messaging and collaboration platform.
Do you have any questions about managing remote teams? Ask them in the comments below and we’ll answer them.