In a world of iPads, smartphones and wireless networks, managing work with team members scattered around the globe is becoming the norm. Even if you have a fixed office space, there will always be employees, freelancers, contractors and a bevvy of people you do business with that will be working on the fly.
So how do you manage a remote team?
When it comes to working with other people, it’s all about communication. Having an effective and productive team that can produce results really boils down to your ability to communicate and engage.
An initial team building exercise can be a good idea to break the ice and get the team familiar with each other. Because you don’t have everybody in the same location, use technology to get the team doing a fun exercise.
Something like a mock webinar or online game that gets everyone involved is a great way to get the team working together.
The results your team produces are also a reflection of how well you work as a team. A team that is in sync with other members is more likely to produce better results.
When you’re working remotely, you don’t have face-to-face contact so you might not feel as connected to other people. Make a Facebook group or hold weekly catch-up Skype sessions and talk a little about life away from work to try and encourage personal relationships.
It’s also a good idea to hold daily meetings. They don’t have to be formal, just a casual chat to get everybody on the same page. It’s important for everybody to give and receive updates so that everybody is kept on track.
When you have team members scattered all over the globe, it’s a good rule of thumb to ‘follow the sun.’ Take into account that different time zones will affect the flow of work. Plan so that the workflow follows the sun around the world.
This way, if there are any problems, the team members in different time zones can work on the issues while the others are sleeping.
Lastly, remote teams tend to veer off in different directions from time to time so it would be good practice to get your team members in the habit of providing daily or weekly summaries. Things like what they accomplished in the day, any issues they encountered and what they have planned for the next day are all important to keep things on track.
It’s also about setting and hitting targets. Get your team into doing to-do lists so they know what they need to focus their energies on.
Done right, working with a remote team can provide flexibility and an effective workflow. Whether your teammates are in Timbuktu or just around the corner, it all comes down to communication.
Taylor is a writer and manages a web development team at Project Manager. He has experience working in small businesses and assisting larger businesses with ERP software and project delivery