Since decades, we have learned to meet people physically in company offices, interact with them, and connect with them. There’s no doubt in the fact that this setup has worked for us for a long time, and it will still continue to stay dominant in various ways.
However, work requirements are evolving and the need for remote work is increasing. One of the biggest drivers of this change has been the coronavirus pandemic. Due to the ongoing health conditions and high need for a work-life balance, remote work is rising.
Hence, we are already here: the remote work culture is not subsiding. The only thing that we can do is to adjust and make some changes in how we manage remote teams.
Smart sourcing is the path that helps us better control and manage the team and work efficiently. You can utilize outsourcing, but you may have less control, which can cause poor outcomes.
Having worked with remote teams for many years we have learned that smart sourcing works effectively for us. Below we discuss the best ways to manage a remote team, such as better communication, collaboration etc.
What is a Remote Team?
Before we move on with the discussion and find out how you can manage your remote team, let’s see what is a remote team.
In various parts of the world, the definition of a remote team can vary. For some, it is a group of freelancers, and for others, it is a team to which you outsource work.
If we collate these definitions, then the remote team is a set of people who are working for you but from a different office or location. It can be a team you hired personally, it can be your freelancers, or it can be a team that is working with your outsourcing partner.
Challenges of Such a Team
While the concept of a remote team is fascinating, there are a series of challenges faced by companies when streamlining activities:
- Poor communication
- Poor collaboration
- Incorrect hiring
- Lack of clear responsibilities
- Poor schedule management
- Lack of employee performance tracking
- No sense or poor sense of responsibility
Working Effectively With a Remote Team
With the right remote team management skills & techniques, it is possible to mitigate all these challenges.
Collaboration and communication are important pillars of any business. With a remote team, these two pillars fall apart to some extent. But, that doesn’t mean it is not possible to mitigate collaboration glitches.
One of the main challenges with remote teams is not having enough visibility of the work being done. Transparency is key to work productively with remote teams. If your company doesn’t use any project management tool, like Azure DevOps, JIRA, Trello, Monday, etc., then the first thing is to start investing in a tool. These tools are simple to use and flexible enough to customize according to your work processes. Tracking all your work using one collaboration tool will ensure that the company (and managers) have transparency.
Following stand-ups from the agile methodology, talking to the team for 15 minutes every day will help you understand them, their issues, and possible solutions quickly.
Consistently speaking with the team and understanding their glitches and issues are enough to keep the communication alive.
The first thing that you should sort out is the availability of the right tools and technology. For any team to work efficiently and productively, the right tools are needed. These tools can help you streamline communication, organize work, and track tasks. For instance, Slack for Business. While Slack is just a collaboration tool, you can utilize task management tools, communication tools, etc.
Other communication tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype or Zoom can also be used for effective communication. Although there are many choices available, choose one and stick with it. When you have multiple communication channels, it only creates confusion and ultimately defies the purpose.
3. Clear Guidelines
A remote team obviously gives you some worries; you don’t know if they are working and you don’t know what is going on exactly. It takes time to begin trusting the remote team entirely. This is especially true if your team is new. However, you can resolve this lack of cotrol and visibility with accountability and transparency.
Here’s what you can do to build trust and set expectations right:Clearly define the responsibilities and roles of the team
- Discuss, in advance, about goals and sub-goals of the project
- Set ground rules for meetings and project updates
- Schedule regular meetings to understand what is working and what is not. You can change your process accordingly (in Agile methodology, it is called as retrospective)
- Track the project and its progress using the project management tool.
- Try to solve issues that your remote team is facing.
4. Regular F2F Interaction
Face to face interaction is not always possible in smart sourcing and remote work. You can’t get on a video conference as and when you see fit. This is always an option in-house, but you can make it an option in remote work as well.
At least once in a week, get on a call with your team. Utilize face to face communication to understand what is going on. Don’t fret if there’s a time difference between you and your remote team. Once you start doing this, your team will also start adjusting to these valuable F2F sessions, and eventually, they will easily find time to connect and talk.
Conducting a virtual coffee break every Friday for half an hour can also be a good way to connect personally with the team. This will be similar to the office chit chat at coffee machines. It can bring closeness to the team. These off-work interactions also help to better understand the team.
5. Set Expectations
In remote work, you need to clear expectations. This is not only true for remote employees but also for in-house employees. You can’t expect an employee to stay late in the office when you have never clarified that this might be one of the important requirements depending on project criticality. Similarly, you can’t expect all-time availability from your remote team unless it is specifically decided in the starting.
So, set expectations for:
- Work hours and setting
- Communication and collaboration
- F2F meetings
- Deadlines and project requirement
When we are working with a team in the office, it is easier to understand issues. We interact with these people, we understand their strengths, and we evaluate their weak points. In a remote team, this interaction is not entirely lost. If correctly managed, you can mitigate communication and performance glitches.
We at Desuvit have experience and expertise working in remote situations with remote teams. Reach out to us if you need any help and expert advice on your remote development journey or need advice on software development in general. Let us build something exceptional, together!
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