Remote working is slowly becoming the norm for some companies especially with the ongoing pandemic. People were left with no choice but to adapt and make this setup work for them. Thankfully, many studies prove that those who are working remotely are happier, more productive, and efficient with their work. One of the things that can be attributed to this is the elimination of the tiring time spent on commute which allows them to focus and fix their schedule. However, the challenge of managing and leading a winning remote team remains with a lot of factors to consider.
It is critical to build a tech team that has support functions, always ready to resolve technical issues such as hardware and software problems over the phone or online regardless of time. They serve as a backbone to ensure that the company functions like a well-oiled machine. Some of their support could be data restoration, software troubleshooting, and remote training among others. A remote technical team is a lot more cost effective than an office-based team.
Before doing a deep dive into how to build this important remote team, let us first look at the basics of leading a team and some remote work hacks that should be applied every step of the way.
Alignment of objectives. Operating a business in the midst of all uncertainties requires trust. Though, nothing will be done if employees are not sure about their exact roles and the directive from top management moving forward. It’s crucial that leaders can clearly set expectations, outlining the responsibilities and timelines to be able to give everyone the trust they need and deserve. Nothing is wrong with being upfront about what needs to be done and when it is due even if it means pressuring the team members a little bit.
Contextualization. What people need nowadays is a sense of purpose especially when the world is basking in disheartenment. You must clearly communicate with your team members why and how they matter, serving an invaluable role to make the big picture come to life. Some of the things that must be clarified are their mode and frequency of communication, overall business goals, and the role of the team as a whole in the company. Giving them this context can help them define their own version of success.
Respecting boundaries. Even while on a work-from-home setup, there should be a distinction between personal and business hours. Employees shouldn’t feel obligated to respond all the time especially after they have logged off. Encourage them to turn off notifications and to communicate if they feel that they are being overworked. Open communication is key when it comes to establishing reasonable boundaries.
Accountability. Since boundaries are to be respected, schedule regular check-in meetings where everyone can agree on timelines and talk about how they are doing thus far. It is also important to communicate who will be held accountable for what to manage expectations. A progress tracker would be helpful as well to see how everybody is managing and to get insight if someone needs help on a certain task. This will encourage the members to up their performance and do better.
Now that the fundamentals are covered, it is time to determine a couple of ways to strengthen a remote tech team. Remember that those who are part of this team are more likely fixed in front of their computers to answer calls from anyone anytime. Their soft skills are therefore as important as the technical know-how they bring. Holistically honing their talents will take some time but will surely be worthwhile and beneficial in the long run.
Updated infrastructure. Due to the nature of their work, remote employees must have the right equipment and a reliable internet connection to efficiently function. Many challenges are out of the question if these basics are not already covered. HR should also take the initiative to ask if there are other things that they need which could be provided by the company to ensure that everyone in the remote tech team is feeling optimal and properly supported.
Online project management tools. Message boards and applications are useful not only in tracking progress but also communicating with fellow team members. They might as well use their time to connect with others not only to make them feel that they are part of the team but also to evaluate their respective points of improvement from time to time. The centralization that project management tools offer also help in managing the influx of inquiries. Implementing an effective follow-the-sun-model could bring significant benefits as well since it allows the company to pass along the work at the end of a workday to someone in another time zone. These systems can permit the team to also find information that they need without spending too much time looking for it, as well as have a bird’s eye view on how everyone is faring.
Reasonable KPIs. This is one of the first things that the team should agree on in order to have clear goals to pursue in a specific amount of time. Defining KPIs will allow the team to know exactly where they are headed and reward the individuals who are exerting the needed effort to achieve a common objective. This will allow them to also identify and concentrate on essential tasks and be encouraged to achieve greater heights when they know that they are significantly contributing to the business.
There will always be room for growth when leading a team. The points for improvement can be identified and objectively assessed through adequate communication armed by an efficient system. It can be difficult to navigate through a remote work environment, but going the extra mile of doing whatever it takes to make it work will cultivate not only employee trust but also a healthy corporate culture.