Managing Distributed Remote Teams – Best Practices

  • August 18, 2020
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The time is here when you can work without actually having a real office. Your employees may be situated in different parts of the world, yet your company productivity can be better than ever and lead you to success.

The Internet is one of the keys necessary to create a remote working team successfully. The struggle is that many executives were not trained on what is necessary for the management of digital or distributed teams.

It is always a misconception, a dilemma, and working with remote teams might feel intimidating. But once you have a proper hold on to it, it can be the most effective way of working and growing a prosperous company.

Here we came up with the answers that one needs to manage distributed remote teams and the practices that will lead to successful offshore and team management, which in turn will build a reliable and thriving company of modern-day.

What Is Distributed, Remote Team Management?

Let’s start with the basics to build a stronger foundation.

A team of people who work remotely, near or far, is a distributed team. They could work in the same town either from home or abroad. You connect online and do not share an actual office space.

For an organized remote or offshore team, there are lots of factors that play roles, but most fundamentally, the main thing that one company should do is make a proper plan that everyone sticks to, and soon everything will fall into their places.

However, the management of a distributed team does have its problems. It is easier to get separated from others, run into timezone and communication issues, and things can quickly get complicated when you add cultural differences to the matter.

But not to worry where there is a problem there is a solution. It’s not rocket science, but you have to keep in check and practice the right steps with your team members.

What Are the Benefits of Remote Teams?


A lot of questions can come into mind. But studies show that the following statements are true.

1. More Productivity

Remote workers are self-driven; they seem to be more successful due to a more flexible schedule, lack of stress; one does not have to worry about traveling to work. Also, the remote employees are self-motivated to finish their work in much less time, and they are more focused and less distracted.

According to an article from Forbes, who confirmed their information from the best Gallup, Harvard University, Global Workplace Analytics, and Stanford University. “Teleworkers are an average of 35-40% more productive than their office counterparts, and have measured an output increase of at least 4.4%.”

2. Greater Flexibility for Workers

The independent decision-making of workers empowers them to take on their jobs. If you handle a remote team, you can see how more autonomous workers are also more responsible.

Today, many of the work which can be performed remotely also can be performed on a flexible schedule. For example, whether the remote team member is a web developer or a content creator, they are more likely to do their coding or writing whenever it suits them as long as they meet your targets.

Forbes says, “With stronger autonomy via location independence, workers produce results with 40% fewer quality defects.”

3. Businesses Are More Competitive

When there are no physical limitations on your search requirements, you will have access to the world’s talent pools of IT outsourcing destinations. It ensures that you can recruit even more professional workers.

Whatever the products, goals, or business objectives there is, it is the people who drive business success.

Here is what Forbes got to say “54% of employees say they would change jobs for one that offered them more flexibility, which results in an average of 12% turnover reduction after a remote work agreement is offered.”

4. Cost Savings 

It’s already evident that telecommunication is the key to remote working, which means you don’t need a huge office space. The most significant benefit of remote teams is financial savings on office leases, supplies, power, infrastructure, and other operating costs.

“Organizations save an average of $11,000 per year per part-time telecommuter, or 21% higher profitability.” according to Forbes.

Taking the recent studies in the count, this is the era of Remote working, and it is here to stay as more and more corporations are bending toward having a remote team and why not it easier than ever than to make one company global.

What Are the Best Practices to Manage a Distributed Remote Team?

There are several tips and tricks that you can follow to manage distributed remote teams successfully. Here are the nine essential practices that you can follow to create a secure remote working force.

1. Employ People Who Know What They Are Signing Up for


The first thing is hiring the most compatible people for your job, which is like the primary thing you do for a typical office.

But now you have a vast arena to choose from, and also you are more likely to come across great talents. Know their forte and focus on the things they can deliver to you.

Stay clear of the swift response to your emails, how professionals they are, and the way they interact during the interview. It will give insight into how well they can interact as they work with you.

Everyone cannot work remotely; for example, social people do need the workplace environment to have an active social life. Some work great under supervision. But remote workers are self-employed, self-organized, and willing to operate from anywhere, be it a beach or their apartment.

2. Have Strong Objectives and Goals Which Your Team Member Must Know


To manage a remote team, you have to work in a very plan and measured way. In that way, you will know what you are expecting from your team, and your team members will know what they are contributing to and what task they have in hand. Ensure that your team knows what will be the end product.

Emphasize on the project, the daily milestones, and the deadlines. You have to openly convey these expectations clearly to your staff, trust them to achieve them, and determine how efficiently and how well they perform their tasks. It’s good to concentrate on the job itself and set specific goals for each of your distributed employees.

Set clear goals and guidelines to motivate remote team members to stay successful during hours when other team members can not be available to answer questions.

3. Communication Is the Key to Success


The success of the team can only be accomplished through a sound communication system. Chatting over coffee breaks or peaking heads over each other cubicle to ask help or the short conversation down the stairs or in a lift might not be possible in remote working.

Bring them all into business activities and meetings. Holding them in the chain of communication will lead to an enhanced sense of belonging and will also allow you to suggest ideas and brainstorm sessions regularly.

Keep contact through email; instant messaging apps are essential. You can keep contact simple and easy by using virtual support resources.

It’s the perfect way to reduce overhead settings. Real-time social apps like Skype, Google Hangouts Chat, WhatsApp, and messenger can play a significant role. For long hour meetings Zoom, Skype Video, Google Duo are some of the best applications which will keep your conversation inflow.

Have a particular objective or for all mobile, video, and Web activities. Even face-to-face conferences can undergo poorly organized goals and processes. With a specific format for the meeting, everyone is trained and understands how to participate fully.

4. Get Hold of the Right Software for Your Work


For proper project management and document storage, you need to get hold of the best technology and software, reminding you that all your transfer and updates are exchanged through telecommunication and clouds.

You can easily manage your remote workers with the right employee monitoring tools. The tools can track and monitor how long a remote worker spends on a given job, position, or device. It helps you get a better picture of what you should do during working hours.

It may be a wiki, shared drive, or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform; but whatever you want to use, make sure everyone has access to it and keep it up to date. Get acquainted with versioning documents and not make several copies, so there is no confusion as to which version is official or final.

One of the frequently used platforms is Google Drive. Google Drive is a cloud-based storage system that lets you centralize your project files. Anyone on your team can upload, create, and share files with other members of your team who may need them for their tasks.

Other project management applications can be Trello, Asana, Basecamp, Jira, iDoneThis. For document storage, Dropbox, Basecamp, Quip,  OneHub are great options.

Technological software allows teams to conduct meetings, project management, and more in real-time.  Technology is successful or wasteful depends on how it facilitates the business processes of a company. Ensure everybody knows what, where, and why devices are being used.

5. Keeping Track: Dashboard, Task, and Deadline


The creation of a visual dashboard allows people to understand and blend into the picture.

A dashboard can be helpful to include plans, project assignments, metrics for progress, contact information for team members, or anything else which shows how individual work fits into the work of a wider team and how team effort fits into broader organizational targets and systems.

Hold a structural daily and weekly meeting. Keep track of your team members by asking them to plan their daily tasks and give regular input in a tracker. In that way, they can follow what your team members are doing, what goals they are likely to achieve.

Google Calendar for Business, Calendly, Float, Teamweek are some of the best trackers and planners.

Ensure that when you assign your team any project, the very first step is to create a plan in a very logical and estimated way. In that way, the team members will know what task they have in hand, and at what time they have to finish it to reach their ultimate goal.

It is essential to give the distributed remote team a logical deadline for submitting the project.

6. Flexible Work Schedules


One of the most critical tasks for distributed teams is to get used to all of the time zones of the current global workforce.

Being mindful of multiple time zones and situations is the perfect way for other team members to show empathy and understanding. Letting people work remotely, but then tying them to a rigid schedule can be a bit demotivating.

You will now have people on your project 24 hours a day. You can take advantage of the time variations by wisely planning and distributing your workload through time zones.

For example, you may have one team in one country that writes a piece of software code during the day. You will test this code in the evening with a new team around the world. Or you may have customers around the world and now be able to provide live support services in each time zone.

7. Build a Remote Office Culture


Organizations that promote an interconnected virtual environment are the best for every member of the team. If you believe in the same mission and have shared beliefs, you’re ready to make a difference.

It is crucial that you have clear rules and best practices that describe your remote team cultures and that any newcomer reads during arrival. Your rules, for example, require daily video calls in order not to forget the faces of your team members. Annual team buildings can be structured that bring together the entire team as well.

More things can be done to boost up the culture by sharing motivational books, articles, and videos, which helps the team members to improve, and at the same time, they can take part in it too by sharing the things they thought necessary.

8. Meet, Treat and Celebrate Success and Events


Face-to-face interactions help create trust and improve team ties. In some instances, people who work remotely have no personal connection to other team members because of different locations.  

It is possible to assemble the team at least once or even better twice a year to solve this challenge. It is particularly essential for recruits, who will have the opportunity to know the team he belongs to and who they are working with.

It can be complicated and costly, but the advantages far outweigh the costs, and in the future, you can potentially save money. This kind of meeting leads to an increase in business discussion possibilities at a significant level.

Give them time when your members are in the same location, hold an interactive and informal workshop. When it is someone’s birthday or have a festival going on, treat them to bonus, and always appreciate their performance. It will inspire and motivate them.

Most importantly, celebrate your success with your remote teams. It will make them feel involved and proud of the company they belong to. In unity, there is a success.

9. Build Trust and Get to Know

Managing Distributed Remote Teams - Best Practices

In a virtual world, it’s hard to manage the workers, and it should be based on shared confidence. The best way to create trust in the remote team is to have daily check-ups or product tests where people demonstrate what they’ve done on a specific time. 

You can do it in a written blog format. The blog format is ideal for asynchronous communication due to time zone variations, which are typical for distributed teams.

Play online games and share family pictures and hobbies. Get to know your team to create a more reliable connection. In that way, you can build a long-lasting working force for you and your business.

Is It Really Hard to Manage a Distributed Remote Team?

All these practices make remote working very easy, and before you know it, you may feel that it is even easier than an actual office. It surely comes with its drawbacks. But the biggest hesitation is within ourselves.

Owning a business is a risk in itself, and so is choosing remote working. Don’t let your fear of losing power deter you from creating a decentralized team that can get results. Hire competent people, trust them to do their roles, and do what you can to ensure that everybody feels like a member of the team.

Kaplan, Humana, Appen, Dell, American Express, and CVS Health are some of the best remote working companies that are successfully profiting from it.

With improving technologies, the world is also bending toward remote working; if you are thinking of spreading your business and have your remote team, then you are on the right track.

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