How to Effectively Manage a Remote Team as a Small Business Owner

Working from home is a great benefit for both employees and business owners. It opens up larger talent pools for companies to source individuals from and allows people the opportunity to stay in one place rather than relocate to another. But despite its various benefits, remote work can still have its own set of problems.

While working from home, it can be hard to get everyone on the same page. As a business owner it’s vital to stay on top of your remote team and the responsibilities associated with it. Here are a variety of ways you can streamline your remote team’s process, so you can manage your team effectively.

1. Create Communication Channels

Going hours without speaking or messaging someone on your team is not a good sign, especially when you have team members working from home. If you’re not actively communicating with one another, you will have no clue where a project may be in production.

That’s why constant communication is one of the most important aspects of managing a remote team. When people worked in a traditional office setting it was easy to turn around or walk over to their workspace to talk about a problem or discuss a change. Now that your team is located in different places or even time zones, you need to have multiple platforms for communication.

While it seems like a given for remote work to have an instant messaging and video conference channel, select one that’s right for you and your work situation. If there is a free tool that will do everything you need, you can save some money for your business. Slack, Zoom, and Google Chat are common platforms for daily communication between remote employees.

Aside from conversation tools, also consider project management ones that team members can share materials on or mark the progress on a task. Software like Hive, Asana, and Trello allows your team to check off completed work or share materials with one another. Whichever tool you decide to use, make sure everyone understands how to operate it.

2. Set Daily Expectations

Goals are necessary for a variety of business operations, one of which is daily expectations. If your team doesn’t have a goal for the day, how is anything supposed to be completed? Now, each department is different when it comes to the everyday task to finish. For instance, an HR team will have a different focus than a writing team. It’s up to you, the manager, to work with your employees to establish what needs to be done by the end of each business day.

Start small when making a task list for your team. Maybe, in the beginning, it’s just logging their timecard. Once you’ve developed that steady rhythm, work with each individual and their working style to create larger daily expectations.

Every individual is unique in what they can accomplish in a day. While one employee can churn out multiple tasks and juggle different projects, another may want to focus on one thing for the week. That’s why you need to meet and learn about your individual team members, so you can play to people’s strengths and get things done.

3. Remember That We’re Humans

Unfortunately, the entire workforce has not become robots, yet. What that means for you is that burnout still occurs with your teams, especially when they are remote. Working from home can still often involve traveling to clients. These factors, amongst others, can lead to burnout and other negative health effects. For you as a leader, set the parameters and example for your team by shutting off from work at the end of the day. However, this doesn’t mean you log off every day at the same time, just differentiate circumstances such as a critical deadline.

It’s not just work deadlines you need to consider in your team’s daily lives. People have kids, hobbies, partners, emergencies, pets, personal lives, and other outside-of-work things that can pop up unexpectedly. If you haven’t already, create a leaving work for emergencies policy book or guidelines for your team. That way employees know the proper protocol for how to report their emergency and what qualifies as one. Situations like these pop out of nowhere, and can be frustrating, but remember your people come first, not the job.

4. Build Fun Opportunities

All work and no play are not conducive to keeping a remote team motivated. Take a break every few weeks or perhaps after a project is done to celebrate and relax a little. Virtual happy hours and other team bonding experiences became popular when the COVID-19 pandemic first made many businesses go remote. But now it’s time to bring back these virtual games to break up the workload and build bonds between teams.

Scavenger hunting, cooking, show and tell, or virtual home tours are all ways to get to know each other and not talk shop for a little bit. Ask your team if there’s an activity they want to do or if someone wants to lead a session. You’ll be surprised at what hobbies or skills people have outside of work. Kicking back to relax and just chatting is okay to do as well. Just mark time on your calendar every few weeks for fun activities like this to help your team unwind.

Closing Notes

Managing a remote team can seem daunting some days, but it doesn’t have to be the case. Using the right communication tools, setting daily expectations, remembering that everyone is human, and scheduling time for fun are all ways to make a team unit run efficiently. At the end of the day, your business’s success depends on your employees, and working together with them will help your end goals.

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Guest Blogger Brian Thomas is a contributor to Enlightened Digital. He enjoys reading and researching tech and business. When he’s not looking into the latest trends, you can find him out cycling.

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