A Manager’s Guide to Leading and Managing Remote Teams


Check a list of actionable and practical tips and best practices for successfully leading and managing remote teams.

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The rapid rise of remote work has created a new challenge for managers: leading and managing remote teams. Remote work has become the norm in today's workplace, and many companies have adopted it as their standard way of operating. As a manager, you now have a greater responsibility than ever before to ensure your team succeeds despite the lack of physical proximity. This guide will focus on best practices for leading and managing remote teams.

What is a Remote Team?

A remote team is a group of people working together but not in the same physical space. They coordinate their efforts and collaborate remotely, often using online tools like video conferencing and collaborative software. Remote teams come in all sizes, from small ones with just a handful of members to large teams of hundreds or thousands of remote workers. For remote teams to be successful, managers must have a clear remote working policy in place and understand the unique challenges associated with leading remote employees.

Most Common Challenges in Managing Remote Teams

Managing remote teams presents unique challenges compared to managing traditional in-office teams. For one, building trust and fostering collaboration between team members who aren't physically present is harder. In addition, remote work can lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection from the team, resulting in lower morale and productivity. Poor communication can also be a major challenge since it's harder to read body language and understand context when working remotely. Lastly, maintaining team cohesion can be difficult if remote workers are geographically dispersed or come from different cultures.

Ways Managers Can Better Lead Remote Teams

Leading a remote team can be challenging. As a manager, you have to adjust your leadership style and find new ways to ensure the team is working together effectively - while still maintaining the personal connection of an in-person team. Here are some tips on how managers can better lead their remote teams:

Schedule daily tasks with your team

Regular communication is key to successful remote team management. Scheduling daily check-ins with your team allows you to stay updated on their progress and keeps everyone on the same page. It also gives you an opportunity to provide feedback, answer questions, and offer support. Check-ins should be held at regular intervals so that no one is left out of the conversation and so that everyone is aware of upcoming tasks or deadlines. Additionally, it can help build trust and team bonding by allowing team members to get to know each other better.

Rely on Right Remote Work Tools

To manage remote teams effectively, you must have access to the right combination of remote work tools. Video conferencing software like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or Google Hangouts will be necessary for team meetings and face-to-face interactions. Collaborative software such as Slack or Trello can help streamline communication between remote workers and ensure that everyone is on the same page. And project management tools like Asana or Jira can help managers keep track of tasks, set deadlines, and monitor progress. With the right combination of tools, remote teams can stay connected and productive despite being physically separated.

Communicate more

Another key to success when managing a remote team is to over-communicate. To build trust, foster collaboration, and keep everyone informed and on the same page, ensure you set clear expectations for how often you'll check in with your team. Schedule regular meetings (preferably via video conference) so everyone can stay updated on each other's progress.

Set up rules of engagement

Establishing rules of engagement is another important part of managing remote teams. Rules should include expectations regarding communication frequency and methods, guidelines for setting deadlines and tracking progress, and procedures for resolving disagreements or disputes. Setting clear rules helps to ensure that everyone knows what is expected of them, which can help to foster trust among team members. With these expectations in place, remote teams can operate more efficiently and effectively.

Offer encouragement and emotional support

Managers should offer emotional support and encouragement to their remote teams. Feeling appreciated and supported can help boost morale, reduce feelings of isolation, and ensure that team members remain engaged with their work. Simple gestures like checking in with employees regularly or recognizing good work can go a long way toward creating an environment where remote employees feel valued and part of the team.

Focus On Results Not Activity

When managing remote teams, it's essential to focus on outcomes rather than monitoring their day-to-day activities. Remote workers should have the freedom and flexibility to choose how they complete tasks and when they take breaks as long as deadlines are met and quality standards are upheld. This will allow them to work in a way that suits their individual preferences and schedules, resulting in greater job satisfaction and productivity.

Increase Social Interaction For Remote Employees

Encouraging social interactions between remote team members is vital to managing a successful remote team. This can take many forms, from regular video calls to informal chats on messaging apps and even virtual happy hours or game nights. Socializing with each other helps remote workers build relationships and feel connected to the team, which leads to better collaboration and productivity.

Prioritize Mentorship more than manage

Rather than focusing solely on task completion, remote team managers should also prioritize mentorship. Investing in team members and providing them with the skills and resources they need to succeed can help build trust, foster collaboration, and strengthen relationships between remote workers. Mentoring employees can also help managers identify areas of improvement, allowing them to provide individualized support and guidance when needed. Managers can create an environment that facilitates success and drives better team performance by taking a more mentorship-oriented approach to managing remote teams.

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