Photo credit: Nicolas Raymond | Flickr
[Updated: September 3, 2017]
By IMRAN HASHIM
Working with a geographically distributed team can be exciting. The debate on remote working is still ongoing.
On one side you have advocates who would go as far as saying offices will be a thing of the past, while the other that thinks traditional offices are more conducive to productive work environment.
Whatever the arguments are, remote teams can still function as well as, or even better than, the conventional workplace setting.
From the most fluid organisations such as Mozilla to mega corporations such as oil and gas companies , more and more examples are popping up to prove the merits of telecommuting.
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Here are some good tips when it comes to managing remote teams successfully.
Hire the right people
A lot of time and effort is spent on ensuring the hiring process is spot on.
These are the companies that make sure the talent they bring in has the capability and accountability to be fully entrusted to get the job done regardless of their location.
With the right people, there is a higher level of trust, making it easier for flexible working arrangements.
It’s not about the hours
While some surveys have suggested that remote workers clock in longer hours, the primary focus of telecommuting is still results. A burnt and stressed-out employee is not a productive employee.
So why the need to measure the number of hours worked? If more can be achieved with less time, i.e. being results oriented, that would mean an enhanced productivity.
Be a good writer
Since working remotely involves a lot of written communication, it’s crucial that the team members get this right.
Without visual cues or tone, workers might be more open to miscommunication. Therefore, clear and fast communication is important to avoid confusion among team members.
Not only that, if the discussion gets too long, a quick video chat is a more appropriate solution to the matter.
Utilise collaborative technologies
Where do we even begin? There is a wide range of enabling tools to choose from. From project management (Trello, Asana, Basecamp), to communication (Google Hangout, Skype), documentation (Google Docs, Evernote), time-tracking tool/software (Hubstaff) and a list of others, there is not one task that cannot be done remotely and collaboratively.
More importantly, most of the applications are cost effective and simple to use. If you want to run your operations lean and remotely, these tools are very useful.
Not the rigid type, but more towards creating a consistency and a sense of “how we work”. Provide a structure and guidance for getting things done, efficiently and effectively.
The objective is to provide a feedback loop so that progress can be measured, both on people and on the organisation. A good method would be a simple weekly update to touch base with everyone.
Processes are usually boring and rigid, but the point is to make it empowering so that if everything else fails, the processes lets you get the work done.
As we are getting more advanced in this connected economy, we are no longer limited by geographical location.