If you're currently managing a remote team, you'll know how challenging it can be to keep everyone together and motivated. When it comes to a virtual team, the crucial elements of support, effective communication, goals, and even fun can go out the window.

As a manager of remote workers, you'll need to be able to keep them motivated and alive, which isn't easy to do when you're not face-to-face. Thinking up new ways of connecting and engaging with each remote team member can be tiring.

But don't worry! Whether you've recently taken over as a remote manager or you've been doing it for years, we've got lots of remote team-building activities that will keep everyone happy and driven.

From effective virtual team-building exercises to our top tips for managing workers, you'll find it all right here! But first, let's take a look at some remote work challenges so you can learn how to overcome them.

The Challenges Faced By Remote Managers

Unfortunately, although it does have its positives, managing remote team members can be difficult, especially when you're trying to do a "business as usual" approach. Managing remote teams can be rewarding but also comes with its unique set of challenges. Here are several challenges faced by remote managers:

1. Lack of Face-to-Face Interaction: Absence of physical presence can lead to misunderstandings, lack of clarity, and difficulty in building personal relationships within the team.

2. Communication Barriers: Virtual communication can lead to misinterpretations and feelings of isolation. Managers may struggle to convey expectations, feedback, and updates effectively.

3. Tracking Performance and Productivity: Assessing employee performance and ensuring productivity can be challenging without direct supervision and traditional office structure.

4. Maintaining Team Cohesion and Morale: Fostering a sense of unity, maintaining team spirit, and managing conflicts can be more complicated in a virtual environment.

5. Managing Different Time Zones: Coordinating meetings, collaboration, and deadlines can be challenging when team members are spread across various time zones.

6. Ensuring Work-Life Balance: Managers may find it hard to ensure team members are not overworking and are maintaining a healthy balance between work and personal life.

7. Developing a Strong Company Culture: Instilling organizational values, norms, and culture is tough when interactions are limited to virtual communications.

8. Employee Onboarding and Training: Effectively onboarding new hires and providing them with the necessary training and orientation can be less straightforward remotely.

9. Retention and Employee Engagement: Keeping remote employees engaged, motivated, and satisfied in their roles is challenging, impacting employee turnover rates.

10 Top Tips for Managing Remote Teams

Clear Communication

Clear communication is the bedrock of remote team management. It involves establishing reliable, open, and consistent communication channels like email, messaging apps, or video conferencing tools.

Regular check-ins and updates are crucial to keep everyone on the same page, while video calls can recreate the face-to-face interaction that fosters a deeper connection among team members.

Remote coworking can be lonely, and your staff may not be sure how to raise any potential issues. Set aside time to check in with each member of your team and ask how the past week has been and if there is anything they would like to discuss. This can be informal and is a great way to build a stronger relationship with your team.

It's no secret that remote working can be lonely. Regular team meetings will help you to check in with your workers, reducing loneliness which can harm motivation and productivity, as well as take of employees mental health.

By ensuring that instructions, expectations, and feedback are conveyed clearly and understood, managers can prevent misunderstandings and maintain a smooth flow of operations. With lots of video conference tools such as Zoom and Skype for business, you'll be able to find the one that suits you and your remote team the best.

Set Clear Expectations

Having clear expectations is vital for managing remote teams effectively. Managers should articulate tasks, deadlines, and goals explicitly, ensuring that every team member understands their role and responsibilities.

Utilizing project management tools helps in assigning tasks and monitoring progress transparently, allowing team members to manage their time and resources effectively. This approach helps in maintaining accountability and enables team members to align their efforts with the organization's objectives.

Use the Right Remote Tools

Employing the right tools is integral to efficient remote team management. Collaboration tools like Slack or Microsoft Teams facilitate communication, while project management software like Asana or Trello helps in organizing tasks and timelines. Other remote working tools also help strengthen team culture and master remote communication as a remote team.

These tools can help in maintaining structure and order within remote teams, ensuring that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and deadlines. Additionally, time-tracking tools can be implemented to monitor work hours and productivity if necessary.

Use collaborative tools

Optimize your onboarding process

An effective hiring process is essential to building a productive and engaging workforce. Unfortunately, many companies focus on paperwork instead of their employees. Here are some good tips for optimizing your process:

  • Start with a pre-boarding package including a welcome email and information about the team and work culture
  • Offer training programs and plans
  • Introduce new recruits to everyone to make them feel welcome
  • Offer constructive feedback

Team-building Activities

Fostering team bonding is essential to create a sense of community and camaraderie among remote team members.

Virtual team-building activities and online spaces for informal conversations and social interactions can help in bridging the distance and building relationships. These interactions can enhance team morale and cooperation, leading to a more cohesive and harmonious working environment, which is especially important in a remote setting to combat feelings of isolation.

A great way to connect your team is to ensure they feel heard and seen, literally, in ways that solve the difficulties of distributed teams. Creating these connections not only means harmony between workers, but it can also help improve communication and boost productivity.

Team Building Activites

Review performance regularly

Just like you would in the office, you should set aside a few hours every couple of months to review your team's performance. Instead of having a meeting, set up a conference call and take a look at the performance of each member and the team as a whole according to your remote work policy.

Regular, constructive feedback is crucial for maintaining direction and keeping performance on track in remote settings. Managers should hold frequent one-on-one meetings to discuss progress, address concerns, and provide guidance.

This continual dialogue helps in identifying and resolving issues promptly and ensures that team members feel supported and valued. It also provides an opportunity for mutual feedback, allowing managers to refine their approach based on team members' input.

Performance Reviews

Encourage Work-Life Balance

Promoting work-life balance is crucial in remote work settings to prevent burnout and maintain well-being. Managers should respect employees' working hours and avoid sending non-urgent communications outside of those hours.

Encouraging regular breaks, time off, and relaxation helps in sustaining productivity and job satisfaction over the long term. A healthy work-life balance contributes to the overall happiness and well-being of team members, which in turn impacts the quality of their work positively.

Keeping your remote workers happy and motivated is essential but also challenging. Luckily, you can do plenty of things to achieve this, such as offering flexible working hours, video conferencing with the whole team, and playing online games to keep up morale and indulge in other team building activites.

Embrace Flexibility

Flexibility is a key advantage of remote work. Managers should allow flexible schedules to accommodate different time zones and working preferences, recognizing that each team member may have a unique working style.

Embracing flexibility allows team members to work at their most productive times and fosters a supportive environment that acknowledges individual needs. This adaptability can lead to increased job satisfaction and improved overall team performance.

Define and Respect Boundaries

Defining and respecting boundaries are essential aspects of managing remote teams. Managers should establish clear guidelines regarding availability and response times and encourage team members to communicate their working hours and breaks.

This approach ensures that employees can manage their work and personal life effectively without unnecessary interruptions, fostering a respectful and understanding work environment that values individual needs and preferences.

Personal life can get in the way when working at home - it can be hard to find the right balance. Try setting up a system to keep your team focussed on the task at hand - organizational tools like Asana and Trello can help.

Recognize and Reward

Recognizing and rewarding achievements and milestones are vital for maintaining motivation and morale within remote teams.

Acknowledging hard work and accomplishments reinforces positive behavior and fosters a sense of value and belonging among team members. Whether through public praise, awards, or other forms of recognition, appreciating employees’ efforts contributes to a positive work culture and encourages continuous improvement and engagement.

Conclusion

Hopefully, this guide has given you some ideas and inspiration for managing your remote teams. Although it can be challenging, there are so many advantages to remote working. The team-building schemes listed in this guide are all excellent ways of creating an efficient and motivated workforce.

Further, you can go over our guide to see how companies hire remote employees and learn other common questions remote workers ask. If you are remote job seeker looking for a remote job and don't know where to look? We are a remote job board and have the latest jobs posted in various categories to help you. Finally, join like-minded people in our LinkedIn community.

If you are a remote company and are looking to attract and retain top talent, post a job with us to reach thousands of highly skilled candidates today. And, if you'd like to promote your product in front of various remote workers and companies then reach out to partner with us.

FAQs

How do employees communicate remotely?

There are many collaborative technologies available that can help your workers communicate effectively. For example, having a company Slack makes communication between workers easy and seamless.

What is the distinction between a remote and virtual team?

Remote and virtual teams differ in that remote teams work for a single manager from different locations. On the other hand, a virtual team comprises people with different skillsets who are brought together to work on a project but answer to different managers.

How many managers do I need for my remote team?

It depends on the size of your team and how close you want to be to your own team. If you have a large team and are happy to delegate some managerial tasks, you can employ more managers. If you prefer to monitor progress more carefully, you might want to manage the team alone.