Managing a Remote Team: What You Should Know

by Tommy Wyher February 11, 2016
February 11, 2016

Being a manager is tough enough when managing employees inside of an office but different challenges arise when a manager is asked to take over a remote team. Many of the tactics that might work in office could be ineffective when managing those outside of the office. Here are some things to know when beginning to manage a remote team.

Different Cultures Are Motivated Differently

While this is a given there are many managers who have a problem reprimanding or motivating those who are of a different culture. Since there might be some sort of language barrier it is important to be as direct and clear as possible when laying out expectations. Incentivizing top performers and acknowledging them publicly is a great thing to do in office or with outsourced employees. Something as simple as a congratulatory email sent to the staff about the outsourcer can make them feel appreciated and motivated to keep up the good work.

Time Tracking Software Can Bring Things To Light

While many people are honest and will not take advantage of a new employer, there are those who without supervision will steal time and therefore money from a company. What many managers don’t realize is that time tracking software can do more than just catch people surfing social media all day. One thing time tracking software can illuminate is where the top performing outsourced labor is spending most of their time. In the case of link building or content marketing, a manager could see that a person spends most of the time looking for the right contact email, data mining, or outreaching. Training materials can be garnered from the tracking software to help build a juggernaut of an outsourced team if necessary.

Keeping Yourself Productive Might Be Tough

If the team that someone is managing is doing well it can be difficult to stay motivated as well. If a manager also works at home it can be difficult to stay on task as there are plenty of distractions for those who work at home. Staying productive when working from home is possible but the distinction between where work ends and family life begins has to be clear. Setting goals like the ones given on a daily basis to the remote workers is important for a manager to give themselves. While the remote team might not see the bigger picture, it is important for the manager to keep employees motivated so the end goal can be attained.

Don’t Be Afraid To Try Out New Outsourcers

Outsourced labor can make a company more profitable than it has ever been. The opposite side of this is that a company can waste quite a lot of money trying to find the right fit as far as an outsourcer goes. If a remote employee is not working out, do not be afraid to end their contract and look for someone more qualified for the job. Hiring outsourcers for a few small projects before they are put onto hourly pay is important. If the potential hire cannot complete a few projects with fixed prices, then they shouldn’t be hired to work for a company on a consistent basis. With online freelance marketplaces like Upwork, the reviews given to the potential hire should also be taken into account.

Be Respectful Of The Remote Team’s Culture

If a remote team is located outside of the country it is possible that a company should plan projects with deadlines that don’t occur during holidays whether they are government or religious. Celebrations like Chinese New Year which goes on in February have some teams taking off a full week as this is customary. So if a manager is managing a remote team of predominantly Chinese employees then planning deadlines should incorporate the time off that will be requested. Being respectful of these holidays and of the culture of a remote team can build loyalty and humanize an otherwise faceless corporation as many remote teams communicate primarily through email or Skype.

Managing an efficient and productive remote team can make a company more profitable than ever. It will take time to get the hang of managing these employees and all teams are different so it is important to stay flexible. This could be a launching pad to managing more people in the office if managing the remote team goes well!

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