Slack, Google Hangout, and other digital tools have made it easier to work remotely, but managing a virtual team poses its own challenges. Project management software Redbooth has identified seven tips to minimize disrupted workflows, forgotten action items, and a loss of team cohesion and culture.
How to Manage Teams That Work Remotely
- Set aside 1:1 time. By definition, remote team members are all virtual, all the time. Be sure to set up 1:1 check-ins via Google Hangouts between managers and employees.
- Add culture to the agenda. Make sure each meeting agenda sets aside a chunk of time to talk about the team’s culture. Oftentimes, remote employees feel like a team in a name only, so it’s important to work team building exercises into regular meetings.
- Cancel your conference call line. If you want to hear more from your remote employees, use Skype or Google Hangout for more engaging meetings. This will save your virtual team from slogging through one conference call after another.
- Offer flexible hours. Let your remote team members adjust their hours based on their energy levels and life outside of work. It doesn’t always make sense to require virtual employees to maintain the same office hours, regardless of location or position.
- Get on Slack. Use an online communication tool or platform to help remote workers feel part of the team. We prefer Slack, but HipChat can also feel like a shared virtual water cooler.
- Share a system of record. Keep all documents in an open and shared location like Google Drive. File sharing through email can unintentionally keep some remote employees in the dark, or with the wrong version of a document.
- Find a project management tool. Sign up for Trello instead of managing projects over email. Find a tool or system that helps everyone contribute and collaborate on projects.
Takeaway: When managed correctly, allowing your team to work remotely can benefit both individuals and the team—more than two-thirds of employers have reported greater productivity from remote workers. But remember that tools like Slack are just tools—if you want to get the most from your team, you need to keep them engaged in the culture and create processes that keep them in the loop. Lastly, if you need more evidence to prove that virtual teams can work, check out this list of fully distributed teams, including standouts like Basecamp, GitHub, and Wordpress.