Managing your team is tough, but trying to do it remotely can be a serious challenge. However, it looks like you’ll need to step up to the challenge as telework and remote work become commonplace. According to Global Workplace Analytics, “50% of the US workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least partial telework” and “80% to 90% of the US workforce says they would like to telework at least part time.” In addition, more and more companies and organizations are realizing that they need to offer remote working options in order to attract the best talent, wherever they might live.
So how can you manage your far-flung employees? Check out these simple solutions to stay connected and engaged with your distributed team. The most important thing to keep in mind is that each method makes it easy for everyone (even the boss) to be accountable for their deliverables and responsibilities, without the need for time in the office.
So you need to keep in regular contact with your remote team, but email just isn’t dynamic enough for instantaneous communication? Consider options such as Slack, Jive, or even Microsoft’s Delve that allow you to connect with your team within groups or channels. This way, you and your team can have conversations in the context of projects or business areas. These tools often have the ability to import your files, bringing everything you need to get the work done into one platform.
It is important to pick the right tool for different communication needs. While you might use certain communication tools to coordinate internally, consider a project-focused tool like Basecamp or Asana when working on a big project with a client (such as executing a website overhaul). If budget is an issue, remember that the chat tools you may already be using, such as Google Hangouts or Skype, have similar capabilities as the tools mentioned above.
While communication, collaboration, and project management tools are great, face-to-face communication can make a big difference when you need that personal connection to your team. Again, take advantage of the video chat features that are often integrated into the tools you already have to get team members on a video chat or call. Many of these tools allow a user to connect either through a mobile device or PC/Mac, so everyone can connect from wherever they work.
Sometimes though, you need to rely on the old fashioned conference call. We’ve all had headaches from the technical problems associated with getting conference calls to work properly; that’s why you may want to consider investing in conference bridges and maybe even a hard line. You don't want to rely on smartphone conference or merge features—nothing worse than a dropped call with that important client because you have bad service, low batteries, or just some weird glitch in your smartphone’s app.
Remember, talented employees can be found in the office or 3,000 miles away. Make use of these methods to get the most out of your team—wherever they are!