It’s been more than a year after the coronavirus first pinged the world’s radar, so this is probably a common refrain. For better or worse, remote work is certainly here to stay, although some of us clearly aren’t as ready for it as we should be.
Then there are also those small-medium entrepreneurs who’ve decided to try outsourcing to leverage their business growth. (Great choice, by the way.) Granted, they’re on the right track, but they probably have similar concerns about how to manage their distributed teams from afar.
Regardless of whether you’re managing a remote team for the company you work for or are doing the same for direct remote hires, you probably have the same questions running through your head.
“How do I keep my remote staff motivated?”
“What can I do to address cultural differences and ensure harmonious working relationships?”
“How about if conflicts emerge? What do I do then?”
Don’t worry. These are all perfectly normal. However, it’s also important to clarify our expectations. So, here are some of the most common misconceptions about managing a remote team (as well as what to prepare for instead):
Myth: Remote employees are less productive than their in-office counterparts.
Fact: They actually tend to be 13% more productive – if you get them to buy in.
Engaged workers are productive workers. Given the distance, remote workers who feel that their work contributes to the bigger picture are more likely to go the extra mile.
How do you nurture this? First, encourage non-work-related communication when appropriate. This means casual conversations during lulls during the workday, as these foster camaraderie. Second, always share how the company is doing and where it is in terms of achieving its vision.
Lastly, keep everyone abreast of important project updates even when they can’t directly contribute. This way, everyone has a good idea of what’s going on within the company.
Myth: Factions don’t form in remote teams.
Fact: They do – but you can prevent this from happening.
Unfortunately, remote teams can be predisposed to foment silos. Silos are the result of departments or employees deliberately hoarding information for themselves. Ultimately, such factions reduce productivity because they can establish organisational barriers and cultivate distrust.
On the other hand, they don’t occur overnight. They’re often the product of any or all three:
- Organisational inefficiencies.
- A lack of proper training.
- The inability of certain employees to work well with others.
Once you determine the root cause/s, you can work on addressing them. Technology is great for bridging organisational gaps. As for training, there are plenty of free resources online that can help your leaders manage their departments better. And for difficult employees, apply certain measures to rein them in and to show the larger organisation that you don’t tolerate such behaviour.
Myth: Remote workers are introverts who keep to themselves.
Fact: For the most part, yes, but it’s still in everyone’s best interests to make them feel included.
Remember what we talked about in the first item? About making everyone feel included? Yes, that includes introverts.
While it’s true that the vast majority of remote workers are introverts, even they get lonely once in a while. So, even if they might not always attend company Zoom parties or respond to lively bantering through chat, just keep the door open. Making everyone feel welcome and part of the organisational family is always a worthwhile endeavour.
Myth: You need to keep a close eye on your remote workers’ hours.
Fact: Focus on their results rather than how long it takes them to produce these.
Micromanaging is already a huge waste of time in traditional workplaces. It’s even more futile in remote work, where you can’t really look over someone’s shoulder or talk over them constantly.
Instead, focus on what you actually need or want your employees to accomplish. Provide them with goals to hit and enough support to achieve them through their own means. And then give them the space to execute.
This approach benefits both parties. You won’t have to worry about the nitty-gritty of your workers’ tasks (which defeats the purpose of outsourcing, tbh). Meanwhile, your workers have the flexibility to pivot and adjust as needed to accomplish their deliverables as the day unfolds.
Managing a remote team isn’t that much different from managing an in-house one. You are still dealing with human beings on the other side of the screen, after all. Treating them with basic courtesy and decency is paramount.
For all other concerns, there’s Remote Staff. We have more than a decade’s worth of experience in scouting and onboarding the best Filipino remote talent for our Australian clients. Plus, we handle all tedious matters like payroll management and mandatory government benefits so our customers can focus on being the best leaders and managers instead.
Click here to schedule a callback with us today and experience the difference for yourself.