Doing Business

How to manage a remote working team?

Linh Pham

August 27, 2020

The remote working team is common today because the business model is not fixed in an office context. Coworking space and virtual business have led to new forms of working which is a remote team. A remote team includes members who do not work close together yet work online. While an in-house team works together in an office, members can directly exchange ideas face-to-face, remote team members can work anywhere, perhaps at a coffee shop, at a library, and exchange ideas online. Therefore, to a team leader, managing a remote team may not be an effortless task. How to manage a remote working team? This article will help answer this question!

It is a likelihood that to manage a remote working team well, besides the management skills of managers, team members should have good commitments. Hence, before suggesting ways to manage the team, the required characteristics of remote team members will be presented. 

Characteristics of effective remote team members

First, a team member working remotely should be well-disciplined and self-motivated. Setting a timetable and a neat working space will boost your internal motivation for working. Because remote members do not work at a fixed office, it is advised to force yourselves to build discipline with a view to avoiding distraction in case your working environment is not really quiet and peaceful.  

Second, a remote member can work successfully if he/she has a good organizational habit. The detailed working plan may not be essential; however, a to-do list for a working day should be mapped out so that required tasks will not be missed and affect the working flow of other days. Besides a list of to-do things, time management skills are also significant while you are working remotely. Obviously, a small task should be done in a short period of time, then you can invest much effort and time in more challenging projects. To avoid time imbalance between tasks, you can estimate how much time you spend on completing task 1 and task 2. 

Third, a remote member should have good commitments and communication with other team members. As you are working in distance, keeping contact with each other frequently will help you feel that you are part of a team. A harmonious relationship is such a great catalyst for a “want-to-contribute” working attitude. 

How to manage a remote working team for a team leader

Based on a profound article published by McKinsey, some skills to manage a remote working team are definitely useful for team leaders. 

Build an effective and logic working structure and flow

A team should work under a clear guideline and set ultimate goals to motivate team members to achieve that goal. The structure includes the deadline of each task, working flows between members and the communication tools. Furthermore, when hiring new employees, you can decide their working style, whether they are suitable for working remotely with credible qualities or they would like to work in the office or they grow faster in a close-knit group. Such a clear working procedure will certainly help members follow better while they do not work in front of you. 

Lead from distance and nurture caring culture

Management is not a simple skill, especially when you have to manage those who are in a home-working environment. Therefore, having a well-defined vision and practical outlook can encourage members to contribute to the benefits of the team. Leaders had better energize team members, foster them to reach the results.

Additionally, nurturing good and caring communication is useful to understand your team members and fill the void of physical interaction. Actually, remote working may have pressure on workers, for example, work and take care of children simultaneously. As a result, listening, expressing sympathy, and giving advice to your staff would create a sense of community and be a part of that. The psychological safety generated by continuous interaction and caring is an intrinsic motivation for remote workers. 

Diversify ways of communication

Communication is crucial for anyone working in a team or an organization. When team members do not gather in a specific place, communication is more important and is a thread to connect people. According to the article “A blueprint for remote working: Lessons from China” published by McKinsey, there are five communication channels for remote working. 

Communication channels are matters and leaders should choose the suitable one. A private call is the best choice for individual catch-ups and sensitive discussion. A leader and a member having a private call can easily build a harmonious relationship as they may discuss secret topics. Video conference is perfect for exchanging ideas on difficult themes with a large number of participants.

Leaders can choose video conferences as weekly meetings, project reports or training sessions. Chat is a common communication channel in which social team talk or urgent questions or guidance will be mentioned there. Video captures and voice notes are best for tutorials, especially for team members working from home while email is a form of formal communication inside and outside the company. 

Take the advantages of technology

Choosing the suitable communication tools, so which tool will help you to communicate effectively with your members? Nowadays, communication apps and gadgets are created to fit with each type of communication tool. To make the best use of these gadgets, first effective remote leaders and employees require external factors namely fast and stable internet connection, then let ensure that wifi or Internet module is working well. 

Some example tools are suggested in the article published by McKinsey. For video conferences, Zoom, Google hangout, Ding Talk, Webex, Tencent Conference are suggested meanwhile We Chat Business, Slack, Rocketchat, Hipchat, Basecamp, Microsoft Teams are frequently used for channel-based communication. Trello and Asana are the two best tools for leaders to manage the tasks and progress of each project. 

Regardless of the communication tools you use, the most important thing is the technological security of remote working. Besides, approaching technology to boost productivity, managing data confidentiality is also significant. 

Have learn-and-test attitude

The situation constantly changes. Knowledge is continuously updated. If a leader does not learn, share ideas frequently, it is not easy for him/ her to guide the team to follow the trend of the market. In addition to management skills, learning attitude is crucial for any leader. 

Besides acquiring knowledge about management skills for a remote team, you should also understand how an enterprise is established in Vietnam.

In conclusion, the remote working team is popular today, especially in the context of the Covid-19. Manage a remote working team may require a team leader to have a little bit different method to connect members. However, regardless of the way of management and where you work, both leader and team members should ensure the effectiveness and commitment to their tasks.

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