6 Tips to Effectively Manage Your Remote Team

The past few months have forced companies and managers across the globe to explore new areas of management. It has specifically put business owners against the task of managing their remote teams and ensuring that it’s almost business as usual.

Companies needed to ensure that their team members wouldn’t get sick by coming into the office. At the same time, they needed to make sure that their businesses weren’t significantly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, 2020’s unwelcome surprise.

As a business, managing a remote team effectively has become a necessity and a reality that you must contend with.

Best Tips to Manage Remote Employees

Despite the work-from-home benefits like cutting costs, both for the employer and employee, reducing commuting time and stress, the biggest problems lie in how to manage remote teams. Or rather how to manage and connect with everyone in and every part of your team without being in direct contact with them.

In this article, we will mention several tips and easy-to-follow steps based on experts’ advice. Some of the interviewees here were plunged into the pandemic and the task of managing a remote team, while others had previous experience with remote teams.

Taking Pre-Emptive Steps

Companies across the globe have found themselves pitted up against a pandemic and subsequently government-imposed curfews. But some managers were able to take pre-emptive steps to maintain their teams and overall workflow.

Speaking to Al7arefa, NASCO Emirates General Manager Karim Barbara said he had opted to have his entire Abu Dhabi branch work from home before the government necessitated a work-from-home policy.

This was “to help a smoother transition and [allowed] employees to get used to this new way of doing business,” he explained.

Top Tips from Managers Working with Remote Employees

How you manage your employees in the office differs from how you manage them remotely. Even more so, you might have to educate your team on how to work remotely.

With many managers now finding themselves against a must-work-from-home situation, what could they do to get it right?

According to Barbara, who manages insurance brokerage NASCO in Abu Dhabi, the first thing to do is “remap the workflow of every interconnected desk-level efficiency [while] taking into account zero face-to-face interaction.” Then you need to “change the business model” in a way that serves clients.

Whether recently confronted with managing their team remotely or having managed freelancers and remote teams for a while, managers have a list of ideas when it comes to remote management. After all, we’re all stuck from home most of the time now.

As for managing remote workers, here are the best tips and what managers said has worked best for them and for their now-remote teams:

1- Ensure Constant Communication

In management in general, communication is crucial. But when you’re managing a team you can’t see by going into the office, the situation becomes a bit different.

Any by constant communication, we don’t mean micro-managing your team. Instead, communication in the realm of remote working means finding the necessary tools that allow you to reach out and communicate with team members.

Schedule an online meeting at the start of each day and check on your team. It doesn’t have to be business all day, but creating a sense of humanity, like when you go into the office and say hello to everyone and check up on them, builds relationships and comradery.

You can also highlight the top points of the day’s work and let your team know when you are more likely to be available if they need help or would like to speak with you.

“Proper communication and documentation [have been the best ways for managing my team remotely,] says Ahmed Khairy, CEO and Co-founder of Gameball. “Today we have the technology to facilitate working remotely, however it’s now about the proper use of the available tools.”

Aya Ibrahim, who has been managing a remote team for almost a year, agrees with this. She says that remote work is about finding the best means of communicating with your team. For her team, she uses “WhatsApp for assigning daily work, and zoom meeting for training purposes and other meetings.”

2- Set Expectations, Goals, and KPIs

Working from home doesn’t mean having fun. It means that people need to adjust themselves to their work timings and managers need to discuss their expectations, the goals that will be achieved and the key performance indicators (KPIs) for achieving those goals.

In other words, working from home means employees and managers need to ensure that progress and results are achieved and the general work flow isn’t affected.

Meet up with your team online, whether collectively, separately, or both, and discuss the plans needed and the goals for the coming week, month, and quarter. Use KPIs to measure the performance of achieving those goals.

These KPIs will naturally differ based on the industry and type of work assigned to each individual and department.

3- Building Trust with Your Team

Now that your team is going to work remotely, it’s important to ensure that there is an ongoing relationship based on trust.

That said, it’s important to avoid tools that take screenshots of how your team’s work or those that track what your team is doing every second of the workday. This is called micro-management.

Not only will your team feel like you don’t trust them, they will not be motivated to do their work.

Working remotely requires a lot of trust between employees and managers. And with the ongoing coronavirus situation, it’s likely managing remote teams will continue for months if not till the end of the year.

Working with your team on a remote basis will or has become a reality that as a business you need to consider as a long-term strategy.

4- Find and Offer Tools to Facilitate Work

Find tools that facilitate the work process. Here’s a list of tools for various tasks.

Online meetings and conferences:

  • Zoom
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Google Hangouts
  • Slack

Project & team management:

  • Trello
  • Basecamp
  • Asana

Sharing documents:

  • Google Docs
  • Google Sheets
  • Google Slides

If your business relies on invoicing, FreshBooks is a good website and app for that.

And the best thing? All of these platforms have basic free versions.

5- Avoid Burnout & Loneliness

Keeping your team motivated is probably one of the hardest aspects of working from home or managing remote workers. It’s also one of the most important aspects for maintain a strong and well-performing team.

The reason remote teams don’t feel motivated is because of the limited human-to-human interaction unlike what happens in an office.

Gameball’s CEO Ahmed Khairy confirms this saying: “Keeping the team happy and their spirit level high is challenging when working remotely.”

Each manager has to discover how to do this, which may differ from one person to another, but once they do, they will be able to keep their remote team motivated.

6- Offer Emotional Support

Many employees have not taken the sudden shift to working from home well, especially amid a raging pandemic. Managers are now tasked with handling their team members’ emotional baggage and offering support and ensuring a smooth workflow.

“Morale will certainly get affected on the long-term because of factors such as confinement [and] companies shutting down, [which means] less business is generated,” says NASCO’s GM for Abu Dhabi.

An article by the Harvard Business Review notes that asking “How’s working from home suiting you?” can allow employees to discuss their pent-up emotions and anxieties. If a manager normally doesn’t allow their team members to discuss their problems, they can expect productivity to dwindle down the longer the work-from-home situation continues.

Work-from-Home Success Story

Over the past year, Aya Ibrahim has been remotely managing her team. So she’s been at this long before the coronavirus came to light and forced everyone to work at home.

During that time, she has hired a team of freelancers and managed them. 

How did she do that?

Her project doesn’t have KPIs, but if someone is unable to finish the task assigned to them, they notify her and she reassigns the work “in a way that assures all work is completed normally,” she says.

As for her remote management experience, Aya says that this project was her first in managing remote employees. When it came to hiring for the project, Aya was responsible for screening and testing. Those who passed her test were hired by Al7arefa for that particular project.

Since the project began in early 2019, Al7arefa has been in charge of collecting the monthly salaries for Aya and her team from the client.

The process has been smooth from day one, Aya highlights.

Outlook for Managing Remote Teams

With the new work-from-home situation in full force, here is what managers think in terms of outlook and how to handle the situation.

“Since the impact of COVID-19 is still beyond everyone’s expectations, I think that the most important [step] for any company now is to develop means and adopt communication tools that allow its employees to work from home,” Aya says. She goes on to highlight that companies may need to begin investing in tools and apps that support remote work, adding that such investments and undertaking by companies will not only reduce gatherings, which are the largest contributor to the spreading of the coronavirus, but also help cut costs.

Similarly, NASCO Emirates’ Karim Barbara says that this remote work strategy and mentality “should be adopted by other companies who can have all their employees work from home, no matter how challenging it is or becomes the longer we are confined at home.”

Gameball’s Ahmed Khairy agrees, even though he prefers to work from the office rather than from home. He stresses that companies should “always be ready and prepared.”

Do you have other tips about managing remote teams? Share them with us in the comments below.

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Nada Sobhi
Freelance B2B SaaS Copywriter | Hire Me

Freelance B2B SaaS Copywriter and Blogger focused on Digital Marketing, Business, Green Technology, and HR; Digital Marketer; Translator. When she’s not working, you can find Nada buried in a book or 3!

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