People working on laptop

Remote Team Management: How To Improve Teamwork Efficiency

Even though it’s become the buzzword in the corporate sphere these last two years, remote work isn’t exactly a new thing.  A lot of companies have allowed their employees to work from home for years. But now, the number of remote workers is bigger than ever due to the pandemic.

Since 2009, the number of people who work from home has risen by 159% but unfortunately, remote team management is still a big issue among managers. It can be a real struggle to ensure everyone is working as a team and being efficient when you’re not all in the same office.  

To help you turn your employees into an efficient dream team, we’ve compiled some tips that have proven to work for remote teams around the world.

A remote communication tool is a must

If you’re already working with a remote team, you probably use tools such as Zoom, Google Meets, and Slack. Digital tools are an essential part of keeping all of your employees on the same page and communicating their responsibilities with them.

However, you need to bear in mind that not everyone will know how to use them right away. This is especially true if you have employees who aren’t too tech-savvy, so make sure to offer a course on how to use these tools and ensure everyone can communicate properly.

Aside from learning how to use them to the fullest, your employees should also be aware of the etiquette that is required while using communication tools. Hopping on a video call isn’t the same as going into a meeting in an office.

For example, it’s very rude for other people to talk over the person who is talking so you can instruct your employees to turn off their microphones when they aren’t speaking. This will also help eliminate any potential background noises that can arise when someone is working from home.

Look for signs of distress

A man holding his head with the word "stress" written multiple times on a chalkboard behind him
Image source

Working from home comes with a lot of benefits but there are also some downsides to it. One of the most prevalent difficulties a lot of remote employees struggle with in these unprecedented times is their deteriorating mental health.

A decline in mental health can happen when people don’t go out and socialize. As much as 19% of people who work from home are lonely. When you add to the fact the pandemic is causing distress, it isn’t a surprise that mental health among remote workers can decline.

This is why a big part of your remote team management needs to include gaining insights into your employee’s mental health. You can do this by openly talking to them or allowing them to send out anonymous surveys where they can share any issues they’re going through.

Additionally, make sure to pay attention to their work performance and demeanor during work calls, as people who are struggling are going to show signs and their work will probably suffer as well.

Use tools to track performance

A big part of remote team management is using tools and one of the most important pieces of technology you need to incorporate is a performance tracking tool. When you use one, you can get an insight into what your employees spend their time on.

Some of the things you can find out with a performance tracking tool are what websites your workers are visiting, how long it takes them to complete an assignment, and when they are taking their breaks.

Remote work can sometimes lead to poor time management because a lot of workers aren’t used to working from home. In some cases, this can lead to overworking and employees who are stressing themselves out and not taking any breaks. In other cases, it can cause an entirely different behavior and lead to slacking off.

When you track what employees are doing, it becomes much easier to evaluate their real-time performance and see if you’re distributing work fairly. For example, if you notice one employee is working much more than others, you can easily delegate their tasks to someone else and give them the opportunity to take a well-deserved break.

Create a perfect balance between autonomy and discipline

A person working on a laptop
Image source

It’s important to realize that remote team management isn’t the same thing as in-office management. It’s simply impossible to replicate the dynamic you have in the office. It’s not the same setting nor the same conditions when all of your employees are working from home.

A lot of managers, unfortunately, slip into micromanagement when they don’t have non-stop access to their employees and can’t know what they’re doing during office hours. But this will bring you more harm than good.

If you want to be a good manager, you need to create a balance between autonomy and discipline. Trust your employees that they know how to perform their responsibilities, so don’t give them too many interruptions or check-ins.

On the other hand, make sure that while you give them trust and autonomy, you also reinforce organizational discipline that ensures all the work gets done.

Have someone train new employees

If you hire new people who don’t have experience working from home, no amount of remote team management tips will help you keep them in check. It’s nearly impossible to manage someone who has no experience in this type of work, so it’s best to train these employees.

If you don’t have enough time to train them yourself, which you probably don’t, it’s best to assign someone who will be a mentor to your new employees. Since this person won’t be their supervisor or boss, it will be much easier for them to create a relaxing atmosphere while the new hires learn the ropes.

Remote mentors are there to provide guidance to these new remote employees and ensure they aren’t far behind when they start performing their duties.

Here are some of the things these mentors should do:

  • Discuss the company culture with them and explain what duties they’re expected to perform.
  • Answer all of the questions the new employees might have and address all their concerns.
  • Teach them the proper methods for completing the tasks that are assigned to them.
  • Build trust with them and establish a personal connection.
  • Explain how different aspects of remote team management work.

Be careful with video conferences

A laptop showing a video conference
Image source

For most remote businesses, the primary methods of communication include texts, email, and messaging platforms such as Slack. But since nonverbal communication has become the norm, this is where video conference tools come into play.

These tools play a big part in overcoming the lack of substance and emotions that come with nonverbal communication. They allow team members to see each other and be more open, which allows them to determine which tasks are a priority.

It’s safe to say that video conferences are not only a necessary part of remote team management, but they’re apparently beneficial. However, you also need to be very careful with them.

Employees think that if they look away even once during a video conference, their team members will think they aren’t focusing on the call. Being on video calls constantly requires the employees to always be present and focused, even more than they would be during an in-person meeting.

Going from one video call to another can become very mentally taxing. This is why you should try to limit your video calls to issues that actually require face-to-face resolutions.

Don’t forget to reward good work

Finally, another very important part of remote team management is showing appreciation to your team for all the good work they’re doing. When someone doesn’t work in an office, the chances of another team member not noticing all of their hard work becomes much higher.

This is why it’s important to make your team members know all of their hard work is seen and appreciated. A simple thank you email can go a long way, but you can do much more to reward their great performance with different types of employee recognition.

Some managers like to congratulate their employees in a public way such as via social media shout-outs. While this can be a good motivator for employees to put in more work, it can also make other employees feel left out and discouraged.

One of the best ways you can reward good work is to provide employees with incentives. The rewards you give out will depend on what your employees need and would appreciate most.

Some of the most common incentives include:

  • Gift cards
  • Pay raises and cash bonuses
  • Promotions
  • Additional paid vacation time

Final thoughts

The pandemic forced a majority of organizations to move from their physical offices to home offices, but this isn’t the end of the world. While remote team management can be a challenge, with a bit of practice and hard work, any manager can learn how to work with their team.

If you apply all of the tips you read about here, you can improve teamwork efficiency and create a workforce that performs even better than they did while they were still in the office. It might take some time and effort to get the hang of it, but it will pay off in the end.