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10 tips for managing a remote team

In this essential guide on remote management, you’ll learn top tips to help you create a collaborative, inclusive, and productive work environment for your remote team.

Man working at his laptop.

In the wake of the global shift toward home working, managing remote teams has become an integral skill for modern leaders. With a dispersed team, remote managers have to overcome a unique set of challenges to ensure their team stays engaged, motivated, and successful. 

In this handy guide, we’ll take you through some invaluable tips to not only manage your remote team effectively, but to also make sure every member thrives in their role.

How has increased remote working changed the way we work?

The pandemic caused a huge shift toward remote work and this trend looks set to stay. According to the Office of National Statistics, approximately only 1 in 8 working adults reported working from home pre-pandemic. In 2022/2023, around 40% of working adults report working from home at some point in the week.

With this physical change, teams have also had to adapt the ways in which they work. As we contribute to the same projects from different locations, we’ve had to change our collaboration styles, relying on online communication such as emails, instant messaging, and virtual meetings. 

What’s more, with the daily commute disappearing for many, working hours have also changed as teams adapt to new working patterns. 

What are the challenges when managing a team remotely?

Remote team managers face many difficulties to help promote a healthy and productive remote work environment. The lack of face-to-face time between teams, if not managed effectively, can affect bonding, lead to isolated team members, and hinder collaboration. 

According to one Health Impact Assessment (HIA), working from home could have both a positive and negative affect on mental wellbeing. For some, it can help improve work-life balance, yet for others, it can increase loneliness and stress. These findings highlight the importance of managers recognising individual needs within their teams. 

Tips for managing a remote team

With the increase in remote working, there is now a greater awareness of the challenges of managing a remote team and the best practices to overcome these issues. So, let’s take a look at some top tips for managing a remote team. 

1. Focus on communication:

Effective communication is the foundation of successfully managing a remote team. With no physical space for the team to have passing conversations, it’s important to promote open dialogue in your team. 

As a manager, you should share appropriate updates from other meetings and encourage everyone to do the same. You’ll also need to utilise the various tools and technologies on offer to ensure everyone stays connected and informed. 

2. Establish clear expectations:

Clearly define the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of each of your team members. With this clarity, your team will be on the same page to help contribute to shared projects and company objectives. It will also help minimise misunderstandings. 

Remember, your team can’t talk to team members sitting next to them, so make sure company procedures are well-documented in an online folder.

3. Promote team bonding activities:

Just because your team can’t be together physically, doesn’t mean they should miss out on bonding opportunities. Combat the distance by incorporating online team-building activities. Whether it’s an informal virtual coffee break or team games, fostering a sense of camaraderie is vital for a cohesive remote team. 

Depending on where your team is located, you could also look to organise an in-person meet up to give people the opportunity to bond face-to-face.

4. Encourage a healthy work-life balance:

Remote work can blur the lines between personal and professional life. Encourage your team to set boundaries with their working hours, take breaks, and prioritise their well-being to prevent burnout. 

You could even organise online well-being sessions to show your team that this is an important part of remote working. 

5. Utilise project management tools:

Help streamline your workflow, improve collaboration, and provide transparency by implementing project management tools. 

Tools like Trello, Asana, or can help keep everyone on track. Once implemented, talk to your team to establish if the tools are working and be open to change if feedback shows they aren’t.

6. Provide the right training:

Set your team up for success by ensuring they have the necessary skills and resources for remote work. 

Offer training sessions for the tools or technologies your team is expected to use and promote continuous learning to keep your team at the forefront of their roles. 

7. Acknowledge and address isolation:

Foster a culture of inclusivity to help combat feelings of isolation in your team members. To do this, schedule regular check ins, both 1-2-1 and as part of the team to ensure you know how each team member is feeling. 

Remember, how one person feels about remote working might be different for another team member. Make time for both formal check ins and more relaxed and informal virtual meetings to help develop interpersonal relationships and combat feelings of isolation. 

8. Flexibility is key:

Recognise that flexibility is essential in remote work. Talk to each team member about their preferred ways of working and be open to different working hours. 

It’s important to understand that the traditional 9-to-5 may not work for everyone in your team.

9. Promote accountability and celebrate success:

Encourage a sense of ownership among team members. Clearly define goals and deadlines, and empower individuals to take responsibility for their tasks to help foster a culture of accountability. This accountability is useful to not only identify where improvements are needed but also help you to celebrate successes. 

When you know which team members are contributing to each task, you can celebrate when these are achieved to make sure your team members feel valued. 

10. Seek feedback regularly:

It’s important to recognise that what’s working one quarter might change in the next. Because of this, you should actively seek feedback on your management approach and the overall team experience. 

You can then use this information to make continuous improvements and adapt to the evolving needs of your remote team. Within this, include performance reviews to discuss how the team are working to company goals to ensure everyone feels a valued part of the bigger picture.

Successfully lead your remote team 

Becoming an effective manager of a remote team requires a combination of open conversations, strategic planning, and a deep understanding of the challenges posed by a virtual work environment. 

By prioritising communication, promoting team bonding, and embracing flexibility, you can navigate the complexities of remote work and lead your team to success in this new era of digital collaboration.

Learn management skills with FutureLearn

At FutureLearn, we recognise the importance of developing management skills to help you become an effective and confident leader of any team. That’s why we offer a variety of management and leadership online courses to help you gain workplace-ready skills.

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