3 Best Practices for Managing Remote Teams
In today’s gig economy, more and more businesses are seeing the logic in leveraging a remote, on-demand workforce to stay agile. Companies can now source talent from anywhere, making it easier to find high performers and scale workforces without adding office space or permanent headcount. However, when an organization is faced with managing remote teams, best practices can mean the difference between success and chaos. Companies that rely on strategic planning, an understanding of human nature, and the right tools and processes to keep remote teams on track can realize outstanding results.
Here are three ways to take a team from good to great across time zones, geographies and cultures.
Keeping Teams on Track: Productivity Should Be Well Defined and Rewarded
Accountability and productivity are always at the top of the list when managers can’t physically see their teams. But software that takes screenshots of a person’s monitor at regular intervals is not the core of true productivity tracking. Time tracking has its place, but key performance indicators (KPIs) are a much better measure of whether remote teams are helping a company accomplish real work instead of just “busy work.”
These KPIs should be defined on an individual and team level and will vary based on the type of project at hand. They must also be readily measurable using virtual tools. For example, a large-scale writing project would track performance indicators such as the number of content requests completed by the assigned due date, the number of revision requests required per piece, and the average turnaround time on revisions. Team members should always know the KPIs that are being measured so they can take greater responsibility for their productivity. Real-time dashboards and incentive programs can help team leaders boost performance even more.
Communicating Consistently: A Culture of Connection Matters
Even for short-term contracts, keeping motivation and morale high is essential for success. A weekly ten- to fifteen-minute virtual “all hands” meeting using video, chat or conference calls can help independent professionals feel more connected with their teams. For best results, make these meetings upbeat, relay critical information, provide encouragement, and stay on-message with the company brand. This is also a great way to ensure that top performers want to come back on board for later contract jobs.
While clear, relevant and concise communication is the bedrock of making sure things get done, a cohesive culture is only created among remote workers when it’s also okay to socialize. Chat, message boards, social media and other forums can all provide a way for team members to stay in touch, find common ground on non-work topics, and brainstorm ways to improve processes and performance. Making a company-owned or controlled platform available for this purpose works well to track sentiment, answer questions, and otherwise keep workers positively engaged.
Optimizing Operations for Remote Teams: Best Practices for Workflow Automation
This is probably the most practical concern that impacts teams on a daily basis. A workflow that’s not well-designed will inevitably lead to missed deadlines, poor quality control, and a sub-par end result. Key areas for automation include work assignments, reminders, task completion checklists, permissions, approvals and payments. A platform that eliminates bottlenecks and keeps team members from accidentally “dropping the ball” is a prime resource for optimizing workflow. Ideally, the solution will be flexible enough to bend to the needs of the organization—rather than forcing a business to adjust its processes to fit the tools at hand.
Bear in mind that automation isn’t a one-time event. In fact, the analytics derived from the platform should reveal information such as the cost of individual tasks and opportunities for continuous improvement throughout the workflow. These insights form the basis of data-driven decisions that ensure remote teams are spending more of their time on activities with a high ROI.
It’s time to turn your widespread network of professionals into a tight-knit team that supports your company’s goals. OneSource offers lean, flexible tools for managing remote teams. Best practices and the needs of the modern business are always top of mind for us. Schedule a live demo here.