“People often say motivation doesn’t last. Neither does bathing—that’s why we recommend it daily.” —Zig Ziglar
It is quite possible you are reading this article sitting in the comfort of your home, or home office, I should say.
By now, the majority of remote workers have gotten used to the new normal. Also known as remote working in the days of COVID-19.
However, as a manager, keeping your high-performing virtual teams engaged and motivated is not an easy task by any stretch of the imagination.
I say so because due to a lack of direct supervision and daily human interaction, you have no idea of how exactly your team members are feeling.
You have a tough time measuring their emotions. This means it’s quite possible some of them might have lost the drive to perform. Often this can be from feeling left out or disconnecting from the team, or due to other reasons.
No more watercooler conversations, tea-time discussions, team meetings, walking to the desk of your colleague for a small chit-chat, and fun activities. Undoubtedly, I miss traditional office settings as much as most of you do.
That said, I see managing virtual teams as a challenge that I should take and pass with flying colors. Why? Because any efficient team manager should be able to adapt quickly to a changing work environment.
When remote work seems to be in for a long haul, we must pull our socks up and find ways to keep our teams productive, engaged, and most importantly, in the frame of mind.
In this post, I am suggesting some proven ways to offer regular support to your remote teams so they keep working as a cohesive unit. I implemented these tips and benefitted, and now it’s your turn to manage your remote teams easily and effectively.
Before we move on to solutions, let’s first have a look at some major challenges that virtual teams experience while working remotely.
With remote work, there’s hardly any possibility of getting to see your team members daily, which also gives you fair visual clues about their thought process and how they are feeling in general. Phone calls and texting are not enough when managing remote teams.
Using a popular video conferencing software like Google’s Team Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype at least once a day to get non-verbal clues. Schedule a daily video call featuring all team members, preferably in the morning just before your team starts to work on assignments.
Seeing each other daily online can prove to be a refreshing change for your team members and help to improve team bonding.
“87% of high-performing managers believe that mature delivery capabilities can significantly reduce risks, control costs, and increase value.”
Team managers often have difficulty in keeping widely dispersed team members on the same page while working remotely. Managers need to use the right tools from one centralized location to track time spent on tasks, check project progress, see who’s doing what, communicate important information, grant access (or restrict), and much more.
This is where using project and task management software (like ProofHub) can help you have ultimate control over teams and projects by providing you all the tools to simplify project management and keep track of everything related to work.
“86% of employees and executives cite lack of collaboration or ineffective communication for workplace failures.”
Regular communication holds the key to keeping remote teams together. Since you are no longer working together with team members in a common office space, communicating with each other via different modes of communication will ensure no team member feels left out from the pack.
Moreover, communicating regularly also ensures that crucial information is conveyed to team members at the right time. Team managers should define clearly which communication modes to be used for which purposes. For example, video calls can be used for daily morning meetings and one-on-one conversations. Whereas, phone calls and texting can be for an urgent discussion. Group chats for instant messaging and reply, etc.
“A study by Gallup shows almost half of all U.S. employees don't have a concrete idea of what's expected of them at work.”
Setting clear expectations for your employees will benefit not only your workforce but your organization as a whole. Managers must define clear-cut goals and objectives to employees, both in written and verbally, so that the latter can understand the level of performance expected from them.
Setting employee expectations can eliminate confusion regarding job performance and responsibilities amongst team members as well as increases the likelihood of improvement in their performance and productivity.
“In a 2017 scaled US study, researchers found that compared with people at low-trust companies, people at high-trust companies reported 74% less stress, 50% higher productivity, 106% more energy at work.”
Many managers face this problem; they don’t trust some of their team members and vice-versa. Managers might think that team members are not utilizing their time efficiently and procrastinating. This might be correct, but you should judge employees performance by output and not by activities.
A team member logging for 8 hours is half as good as a member logging in for 7 hours and doing the same or even more amount of work. However, you can set up work-from-home guidelines that your workforce can adhere to. For example, reply to emails within 2 hours, must attend a daily virtual team meeting, and use the chat for instant messaging. Whereas, phone calls and texting should be for urgent work only.
“25% of leaders surveyed feel that 10% to 20% of their workers avoid accountability.”
While team managers have to adopt a certain degree of flexibility while managing remote teams, it’s important to make your team members realize that remote working doesn’t translate to going under the radar. Let them know how they are expected to deliver a certain amount of productivity consistently without overburdening them.
Have regular one-on-ones to check on the individual or team’s work progress. That way you can address any issues arising ASAP. Monitor your team without micromanaging or peeking over their shoulders all the time.
These are uncertain times and the majority of the workforce is dealing with multiple challenges at the same time. Stress levels are at an all-time high. As an efficient team manager, you have to put your best foot forward and keep all your remote team members together by making them feel inclusive and motivated.
It’s tougher than managing in-house teams. But, if you use (and provide) the right tools for team collaboration and project management, your job becomes easier. Without using the right tool, your team members can lose focus, motivation, and feel disconnected.
What tool do you think would be the most effective to manage remote teams? Look out for a solution that offers you powerful features under one roof at a simple, fixed price. Try to avoid those expensive tools that charge a per-user fee.
Read this post carefully and you might as well find the perfect solution for successfully managing your virtual team. Good luck!
Nandini Sharma is the Assistant Marketing Manager at ProofHub. Nandini brings close to a decade of experience in the field. She has successfully executed a number of brand-building and marketing campaigns throughout her career. A specialist in the field of marketing, Nandini is well-versed with technical know-how, and always stays on top of the latest trends in the digital world. You will find her constantly putting marketing strategies into motion with perfection. Over the years, she has triumphantly created a wide base audience on a number of popular online platforms. When she is not busy penning down out-of-the-box marketing ideas, she can be found channeling her creativity into art and craft activities.