Your four-step guide to managing a team remotely

Neha Kale
@neha_kale

In the past few years, the rise of new technology has made it easier than ever to manage your team on the fly. For many business owners, commuting to the office on a daily basis is far less appealing than the opportunity to forge interstate connections, score international clients or simply punch deadlines from the comfort of their home. But although overseeing a team remotely is a compelling option, it also calls for a revised approach. Here’s your four-step guide to getting the most from your staff members when you’re out of the office.

Create reporting systems

The decision to delegate tasks while you’re out doesn’t mean that your employees say goodbye to structure or cut down the hours they work. Whether it’s scheduling a morning video call with your marketing team to ensure that everyone is on task, asking your staff members to enter their time into a central database or scheduling a twice-weekly Skype call in lieu of a staff meeting, creating strong reporting systems is an important part of keeping the lines of communication open. It’s also critical for maintaining accountability.

Use technology to your advantage

Managing your team remotely doesn’t just add up to greater professional flexibility – it can also bolster the way your team collaborates and exchanges ideas. Embracing platforms such as Trello, Basecamp, WorkZone and Google Hangouts can help your staff members manage their respective goals and collective deadlines. It also allows you to assign responsibilities, measure progress and flag problems as they arise. 

Set clear expectations

Managing your team remotely is challenging if you haven’t invested in your relationship with your staff members or made a concerted effort to build their trust. That’s why it’s critical to set clear and consistent expectations, communicate this with your team members in person and reflect this message when engaging with them digitally before you decide to take an extended break from the office.

Make sure that your hires know that you’re the first port of call when an issue arises or if there’s a need to troubleshoot a problem.

Make sure you have your team’s back

Steering your team from a distance doesn’t absolve you from your responsibilities as a leader or the expectation that you will rise to challenges when things go wrong. Make sure that your hires know that you’re the first port of call when an issue arises or if there’s a need to troubleshoot a problem. It’s also essential to spend an extended period in the office if your team is dealing with obstacles they can’t overcome on their own.

If you’re prepared to maintaining accountability and honour your role as a leader, managing remotely can spell greater independence for your staff members while enabling business growth. What strategies do you take to manage your team remotely and have they ever backfired?

Neha Kale

Neha Kale is a freelance writer and editor who covers business, technology, arts, and culture for publications in Australia and overseas.

Image: Bill, Flickr Creative Commons license

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