Working remotely is more than just casual video calls and enjoying the flexibility to choose your workspace. It presents challenges for leaders managing remote teams and employees adapting to this work model.
From a leader’s standpoint, monitoring the performance of remote team members, building rapport, and keeping the team motivated are more challenging. Employing the right strategies is crucial, whether working remotely or in a traditional office setting. However, you must rely more on collaboration tools when managing remote workers.
For employees, connecting with your team members and maintaining team collaboration is not as simple as when everyone is in the same physical office. You need to message or call team members every time you want to discuss something. Also, losing control over work-life balance and focusing on essential tasks becomes more challenging.
To give you the ultimate Managing Remote Workers Toolkit, I collected strategies, tools, and experience in this guide to help you manage and maximize remote teams’ potential.
Let’s dive into it!
Why is it essential to manage remote teams effectively?
According to Forbes’ studies, 12.7% of full-time employees work from home, while 28.2% work a hybrid model as of 2023. It means that 16% of companies operate in a fully remote work setting. While there are constant changes in the remote working trends, one thing is certain: remote work will stay with us, and both leaders and employees need to adopt it.
Managing remote employees effectively is crucial for every team leader. You need to apply specific strategies and remote working tools for several reasons:
- Productivity: Maintaining high productivity levels among remote team members is more challenging than in physical office settings. Managers using the proper strategies and tools can more likely maintain high productivity in a remote environment.
- Team collaboration: Leaders must provide all the tools and possibilities to foster cooperation between remote teams. Creating different channels and ways for communication and collaboration is the foundation of every successful remote team.
- Task management: Effective task management ensures high productivity and proper workload management among remote workers.
- Monitoring performance: Proper remote team management tools and strategies allow leaders to monitor the performance of remote team members without the Big Brother vibes.
- Employee well-being: Remote work impacts remote employees’ work-life balance. Leaders play a critical role in promoting a healthy balance to prevent burnout.
- Company culture: A company culture aligned with remote teams’ needs and goals contributes to employee engagement. Making remote employees satisfied and engaged in their work results in higher retention rates.
Managing remote workers toolkit
Managing remote teams is about the right leadership, the right team members, and the right tools. An ideal remote working tool helps you to maximize remote workers’ performance and keep them on track. The main areas and processes where you can integrate tools to boost a remote team’s productivity include:
- Project management
- Document management
- Online meeting management
- Task and meeting scheduling
- Removing disruptive factors
Let me explain them in more detail!
Team communication tools
We need to see clearly that the success of a remote team depends on communication. Efficient communication is not merely an option; it is fundamental for remote teams. Establishing channels for daily communication is paramount in effectively managing remote teams.
Incorporating tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams is an excellent way to start. These communication platforms create dedicated channels for daily work, helping to avoid the flood of emails every day.
Such communication tools allow remote team members to share updates, discuss projects, and collaborate in real-time. This streamlines communication and fosters a sense of connection among remote teams.
Moreover, these tools often come with additional features like video conferencing, file sharing, and integrations with other essential apps. This integration further enhances overall communication and contributes to the efficiency of remote teams.
In summary, investing in dedicated team communication tools is an essential step in the success of remote work, providing a structured and efficient way for teams to collaborate and stay connected.
Project management tools
An ideal project management tool is an essential element of remote work. It boosts employees’ productivity and collaboration by streamlining all the tasks and projects. A project management tool ensures a practical way to distribute tasks and projects and hold employees accountable.
Furthermore, project management tools provide a user-friendly interface with reporting features and excellent visibility into projects and tasks, allowing leaders and team members to track progress. This transparency ensures everyone is on the same page regarding project developments.
Applying a project management tool software for remote teams makes tracking status, setting deadlines, monitoring workload, automating request forms, etc., significantly easier.
Document management tools
Creating a hub to manage and share files is crucial for successful collaboration. Having a virtual workspace where remote teams can securely store and exchange files is vital.
One of the most popular apps among remote teams is Google Drive. It offers access to smooth file sharing and collaboration with countless integration options.
If you need a more advanced document management app, other tools can upgrade your data and document management. For example, Dropbox supports real-time document collaboration, allowing multiple users to work together seamlessly. It also provides features like password protection, ensuring document security, and helping secure document signings.
In essence, deciding which tool is the best for you depends on what features your team requires for remote work.
Tools for making video calls more productive
Many of us find ourselves stuck in unproductive meetings or multitasking during calls. Balancing note-taking, speaking, and understanding others can be challenging, particularly if you handle sales or client calls independently.
An AI meeting assistant or note-taking app can take over many tasks from remote workers. AI meeting assistants or note-taking apps are seamlessly integrated with your meeting platforms so that they can join and transcribe online meetings.
Beyond note-taking across different languages and meeting platforms, these tools offer features like preparing meeting summaries and providing meeting analysis, recording, and team collaboration tools. They are highly versatile, often integrating with numerous third-party apps.
According to an Otter.ai report, businesses investing approximately $80,000 in AI meeting assistants can save $25,000 or more per employee per year. Automating tasks related to online meetings will allow remote teams to have more productive and focused meetings and significantly decrease the time spent on meeting notes, summaries, and sharing.
Advanced scheduling and time management tools
Being part of a remote or distributed team can make meeting and task scheduling a nightmare. People have different daily routines and working hours and generally work in different time zones. Finding the right time for your tasks and meetings while constantly prioritizing is overwhelming.
Artificial intelligence-powered scheduling tools are a perfect way to upgrade your and your team’s time management. Such tools can spare you from constant scheduling and planning by creating a personalized schedule based on your preferences, priorities, availability, and due dates.
Also, it integrates all your calendars into one view, so you can your personal and work-related tasks in one place.
Moreover, these tools have multiple features that can assist you in managing remote teams. Some have time-tracking capabilities, task management features, or a wide range of integrations with project management tools.
Noise cancellation tools
Working in noisy environments is sometimes inevitable, particularly in the case of a fully remote job. We have all been there — family members, pets, or even loud neighbors can disrupt our focus during crucial audio calls. It can be frustrating to worry about background noises when making important calls.
While you can’t eliminate these distractions, you can effectively block out background noise and voices during audio calls. Krisp, for example, uses artificial intelligence to remove unwanted sounds, allowing for clearer communication during video calling.
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Strategies for managing remote workers
Let’s discover the key strategies for managing remote teams!
Clear and realistic expectations
Setting clearly communicated goals for team members is crucial, primarily when they work remotely. Leaders do not have the visibility with remote employees they would typically have under office circumstances. Given the lower visibility, goals and clear communication are more important than ever to manage a remote workforce.
Let’s break this strategy down into two main pillars:
- Realistic goals for different team members
- Clear communication
Realistic goals provide a roadmap for employees to ensure they know what leaders expect from them. Realistic expectations set at a challenging yet achievable level can motivate remote workers. It provides a sense of accomplishment when reaching goals and helps maintain a positive work environment.
A good manager considers the organization’s goals and the employees’ preferences, experience, and abilities. While we can easily overlook the importance of setting realistic goals, this is the fundamental element of the remote work toolkit.
When agreeing on goals for the future, your communication should be crystal clear. Lack of face-to-face communication can lead to misunderstandings in case of remote work. Relying only on communication tools may result in information gaps. Without well-defined goals, do not expect remote workers to be accountable for their responsibilities.
Proper workload management
Proper workload management includes resource allocation, task prioritization, and tracking. In a remote environment, where leaders might have less visibility into the day-to-day activities of team members, adopting effective practices and tools becomes essential. This ensures that leaders can assign projects and tasks based on team members’ availability, skills, and expertise.
Efficient workload management ensures that each team member has appropriate tasks without feeling overwhelmed. Using the right strategies and the best tools for workload management will not just increase the performance of a remote team but also prevent burnout and help maintain a healthy work-life balance.
Recurring one-on-one meetings
One of the most straightforward and practical ways to manage remote employees is through recurring one-on-one meetings. One-on-one sessions provide an opportunity to discuss projects, assign tasks, and ensure that the employees are satisfied.
No tool can replace a leader’s full attention dedicated to each team member. You can use tools to assign tasks, monitor performance, and make your team more productive.
However, the one-on-one meetings are where the real magic happens. They provide a dedicated time for building a relationship, giving feedback, addressing concerns, and offering support.
Supporting social interactions
In remote work, when physical interactions are limited, it can easily lead to feelings of isolation. Statistics show that employees highlighted the lack of social interaction with colleagues (33%) and a lack of connection with what’s happening in their organization (22%) as their most significant challenges with remote work.
Leaders and managers must encourage social interactions and create opportunities for remote teams to feel connected and engaged. While it might sound easy, I am sure we all participated in awkward virtual team building and interactions.
An ideal way to avoid this is to let your team share some ideas about what to do and allow them to decide what fun stuff they want to do during these social moments. Giving them this freedom will turn awkward virtual team-building sessions into something everyone looks forward to!
Using the ideal tools
While utilizing tools is crucial for traditional work settings, it is also an absolute necessity for remote work. Remote tools facilitate communication, collaboration, and project management when working remotely.
These tools are designed to bridge the gap created by physical distance, enabling teams to work cohesively regardless of location. Therefore, implementing remote working tools becomes paramount for ensuring productivity and success in a remote work environment.
Wrap-Up: Managing remote workers toolkit
Building an effective toolkit for managing remote employees is not a one-size-fits-all affair; there is no secret formula. It is more about employing specific techniques, strategies, and tools tailored to make your team more productive.
Think of it as constructing a building. The tools provide the structure, but you are responsible for adding the essential content to make it functional and efficient.
Frequently asked questions
What is the best way to manage a remote workforce?
To effectively manage a remote team, you should implement specific tools and strategies to facilitate collaboration. You can utilize tools in the following workflows:
- Project management
- Document management
- Note-taking and virtual meeting management
- Meeting and task scheduling
- Noise cancellation
Ultimately, using the remote work toolkit is a great way to keep teams productive. However, you must also apply the right strategies to manage a remote team effectively.
How do you keep track of remote employees?
Establishing clear performance metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) is crucial for monitoring the remote team’s performance. Such indicators should give an idea of priorities, tasks, and projects.
If you want valuable insights into how remote team members spend their time, you can utilize a scheduling assistant, time tracking, or task management tool. Nevertheless, I recommend using employee-friendly tools like Reclaim to avoid situations when it can hurt the trust between you and remote team members.
How do you organize remote workers?
Implementing a task or project management tool will help in many aspects of organizing remote work. You can apply tools like Wrike to optimize resource management, track progress, workload optimization, budgeting, request automation, etc.
A project management tool can help the entire team boost productivity even when working in a fully remote environment.