12 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Remote Teams

12 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Managing Remote Teams

About 57% of Americans are working remotely. With the myriad of benefits involving remote working, the prevalence of this setting isn’t surprising. Yet, the productivity of your remote team will highly depend on your management. 

The way you manage your in-house team is pretty different from the way you deal with your remote workers. The challenges faced by remote workers are unique. How you address these issues makes all the difference. 

Here are common mistakes you need to avoid when managing remote teams. 

1. Overlooking Team Interactions 

Humans are social beings. Working in remote settings means that they will often feel lonely and isolated. If you fail to implement measures that can improve interaction, your team will likely fail to reach the set objectives.

Working in a team means that employees need to approach each other from time to time with questions and concerns. It is vital to know the steps to help members avoid isolation. You can arrange for monthly or weekly team meetings, get-to-know-you questions, or weekly video conferencing sessions to help break the ice.  

The challenge of working remotely means that even when issues arise, you might be the only linking factor in the team. This situation may introduce unnecessary delays in matters that may be mundane.

2. Failure to Communicate Expectations

What do you expect from your remote team in the short, middle, and long term? Failure to make your expectations known would be a great disservice to your online teams. Such omissions have the potential to affect the productivity and efficiency of your teams.

Managing remote teams can only lead to success if you have clear and concise instructions on essential matters, such as deadlines. The problem with remote teams is that they tend to function in an unstructured context. You might need to ensure that you set clear but achievable expectations when onboarding to avoid any disappointments. 

You should start by making weekly task deadlines known to each team member. It would also help to have a clear guideline on the roles and responsibilities of each member.  Further, any manager overseeing a remote team must focus on setting manageable short-term goals, which build-up to the long-term objective of the team.

3. Poor Communication

Setting expectations is one thing. However, communicating these aspirations to your employees is often the deal-breaker.  Most remote teams function devoid of the constant flow of pertinent information.  

With such limitations, expecting results may be far-fetched. You might need to focus on developing a communication mechanism that ensures frequent and reliable information flow within the team. This might include always being available to respond to questions.

Communication minimizes friction within the team. You'll also be able to detect any instance of frustration and dissatisfaction in the group and act accordingly. However, this is achievable as long as your communication mechanisms are top-notch.

You might need to choose the most appropriate communication channels for your team to ensure effectiveness.  With the right virtual communication strategies for remote businesses, you can be confident that your team will deliver. 

4. Micromanaging Your Team

If you hired them, you should trust their instinctive ability to deliver. Most employees prefer working remotely due to the freedom this option introduces. While it makes sense to set your expectations from the onset, it would allow your teams to deliver the breathing space they need.

Most leaders managing remote teams confuse micromanagement for follow-up. You might need to give your team some leeway when it comes to working hours or schedules as long as they deliver quality. Calling your teams every other minute or sending follow-up emails after every hour will only lead to unnecessary pressure.  

All you need is an elaborate remote working policy that each team member agrees to when onboard. After that, as long as each member works and delivers, there’s no need to keep micromanaging their operations. The critical issue should be to reach an agreement on delivery and the consequences of unmet expectations. 

5. Failing to Focus on Diligence 

Remote working is not for everybody. You can have the best workers for the job, with the right qualifications and skills, yet fail to deliver from home. Some people don't thrive in a remote context due to varying reasons.

The recruitment phase is a deal-breaker for most remote teams. Getting it right can be a hard nut to crack, but it's absolutely vital. You better use up a lot of time selecting the most suitable individuals than settling for talent only to face disappointments.

Can they set up a home office? Do they live in tiny apartments with large families? If such questions are not answered, you might end up with a problem. A remote worker needs the right conditions and unmatched diligence to deliver. 

Ultimately, you might need to focus less on talent and more on the ability to deliver. Most times, hiring people who have the right mindset and a supportive environment is essential. If you go for novices in the remote working context, ensure that they have the right working conditions and the diligence.   

6. Rushing Through Virtual Meetings

In-person meetings encourage conversations. People contribute easily as they interact in real-time. On the contrary, virtual meetings can be challenging. 

In these remote meetings, the chances are that the team members will be passive participants. Giving input seems interruptive to some extent. Your team might never feel comfortable raising their concerns through the platforms, which will mean that the meeting will be one-sided.

Rushing through the meeting denies workers an opportunity to contribute. Unfortunately, you might not notice body language in virtual meetings. If someone was looking up ready to speak, it is hard to know and they might end up missing a chance to give their suggestions. 

It would help to provide blank airspace after asking questions. Your team needs adequate time to gather thoughts to contribute. You can also call each member by name so that they can give their input.

7. Over-Reliance on Emails

Did you know that people send more than 205 billion emails every day? Sending emails is arguably the most popular form of business communication. When you’re managing remote teams, emails shouldn’t be your main form of communication. 

Emails limit open discussions. They don’t meet people’s emotional needs. While they are a quick way of communicating, try other means that encourage more interaction to form a powerful work relationship. 

Calling will enable you to have a free conversation with your team. You can talk about everything and get real-time feedback. Video calls are also a great way to communicate as you'll get visual clues that can detect an issue that's not aired verbally.

8. Improper Management of Remote Team’s Performance 

While remote working is known to increase productivity, it’s not enough motivation. You need to review your team’s performance to guide you in the best motivation techniques. So, how do you review the performance of your remote workers? 

You can consider daily touchpoints with your team to know how their work is progressing. Your approach should be friendly as you don't want your workers to feel micromanaged. Weekly feedback is also crucial in offering insight, promoting brainstorming, creating transparency, and offering insight. 

Having monthly or weekly teleconferences can make the team feel more connected. Teleconferencing creates room for devising different ideas. From the interaction, you can get feedback to help you gauge how your workers are handling projects.

Once you understand how to review your remote team, the performance will improve. Ensure that the approaches you take to resonate with the team.

9. Problems With Time Zone Differences

With remote working, you might get workers from diverse regions across the globe. Workers being from various countries mean that they will be in different time zones. Managing remote teams call for understanding aspects such as time zones and being considerate. 

You need to be flexible enough when it comes to time. Your official working hours might not necessarily be consistent with your remote employees' day time hours. Factoring in the time differences should guide you when communicating with employees and setting deadlines for assignments. 

The schedules should consider the time that works best for everyone. You can categorize the team in different categories based on time zones if you can get a schedule that works for everyone. This seemingly small difference can make such a difference in your remote working approach.

10. Failing to Offer Growth Opportunities 

More than 3.5 million Americans resign from their jobs each month. The primary reason why employees quit is due to sluggish growth. As such, workers seek to find better opportunities to promote their career growth. 

Opportunities for growth shouldn’t be solely for office workers. Remote employees also need to further their careers. They need to know that you have a laid down plan for their growth. 

You can start by offering training. With the advent of technology, there are several online platforms that can assist in training remote workers. The number of skills your workers can learn is limitless.

Relevant training and education prepare workers for promotions. What's more, you're likely to retain workers when you keep developing their skills. Online learning is cheaper than in-house training, and the results are worth the investment.

11. Not Using Platforms for Work Efficiency

The right workflow platforms will enhance the efficiency of your remote workers. With a set of tools, the projects and tasks for your remote employees will be seamless. The multiple platforms available allows you to choose the tools that would work for you.

You can start by checking top productivity tools to improve team collaboration. From document sharing to project management, you can get several apps that will make your team more productive. The good thing is that you don’t have to sacrifice one platform over the other as most of them have integrating capabilities. 

Tools such as Evernote, Dropbox, OneDrive, and AceProject are among the tools that streamline your workflow. The tools will ensure that your team is completing tasks efficiently and on time. While at it, don't forget to maintain open communication as it is a critical part of managing remote teams. 

Invest in communication tools such as Skype and Google Hangout to get quality facetime. Social networking sites are also essential for remote communication. All these platforms will work towards improving your team’s productivity. 

12. Hiring Quickly

A recent survey established that 80% of employees are more loyal to their employers when allowed to work from home. With the apparent preference to work remotely, getting employees isn't a challenge. However, getting the right team is another issue altogether.  

You need to understand that not all applicants are cut for remote work. Some workers are only fit for the traditional office setting. Allowing such employees to work from home might affect your productivity.

Workers without the discipline to concentrate on projects when working from home can be a disfavor to your firm. It would help to prioritize workers with experience in remote work. They should be ready to demonstrate that they can deliver expected results regardless of the unique challenges of remote working.

Hiring in haste is a mistake that can be too costly to correct. Take time to vet each job applicant. At the end of it all, you’ll be glad you didn’t hire wrong. 

Managing Remote Teams Effectively Can Guarantee You Unmatched Productivity 

The benefits of remote teams have been prompting many companies to consider the setting. In fact, workers increasingly prefer remote work as it encourages flexibility. However, you need to know that managing remote teams is not always bliss. 

Managers often make several mistakes that can impede the success of remote working. It would help to know some of the pitfalls and how to avoid them. With the right approach, remote working will propel your company towards achieving the set goals. 

Are you looking for communication solutions for your remote workers? Contact us today for business solutions that will take your business a notch higher.

LEARN MORE

Subscribe to our blog.