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Managing remote teams: Main challenges and best practices.

Around the world, most of the companies established remote and/or hybrid working to cope with the pandemic situation. Even post COVID-19, managers are strategizing the best remote working tips to lead their teams at ease. The most important reason for that is the fact that companies begun to understood the positive impact remote work can have on their employees, job satisfaction, productivity, and also the savings it can bring to their business. In spite of these benefits, managing remote teams can be challenging, in terms of ensuring that your members feel like they are “part of a team” and that working towards a common goal.

Sofia Kakkava's remote team in the management process
Example of a remote team over a meeting

Some of the most major challenges include maintainance of the consistency of your employees while working from a distance and keeping a disciplency. In many cases it has been observed that most of the active and high-performing employees were of low morale and less engagement in the remote model.

In this blog I’ll explain to you the most important challenges you’ll likely face as a manager of a remote team and provide you with tips for overcoming them. As the head of a remote company after the pandemic, I drew my tips from my personal experiences as well those from my community and wider research.

  • Lack of Communication

While it seems easier to discuss with your team over a face-to-face meeting in the morning or when you meet at the cafeteria, working remotely can lead easily into neglecting that kind of engagement. Managers have to consider which is the most effective way of communication to replace face-to-face interaction at the office. Daily meetings with video conference tools like Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams are a great way to do this, but also your team would appreciate internal communication. There are many apps and tools who can help do the trick (WhatsApp group, Slack etc.) and also it will help you establish a more open way of communication among the team and if they need any help they can directly ask for it. As important as those tools may be, the most important thing a manager must establish is an effective way of communication with his team, in order to show the person behind the team leader.

  • Inability to differentiate between remote work and traditional type of work

There are some elements that make remote work completely different from the structure of traditional work. In many cases some people from your team may experience difficulty communicating only through information telecommunication technologies. That also applies to the managers as well who may not have remote work experience so far. Educative seminars regarding the technological skills needed can help you and your team to balance a possible gap between those two structures.

  • Absence of clear expectations and boundaries.

You may consider as a manager that since your team already knows what to do in the office that the same applies when working remotely. Since working virtually can easily lead to interpretations, be always clear of what you expect from your team. For instance you can explain to them how quickly you expect your team to respond or when they should attend the virtual meetings. Another very important factor is the boundaries which should be established. Working remotely does not mean that you have the authority to call whenever you want because your team works from home. Always respect the personal space and working hours of your team.

  • Lack of trust in management.

This challenge leads on from the previous challenge when there are no clear expectations and boundaries. As a result, your team can be frustrated at management if they perceive that there is no respect for their limitations. It may be easier when having face-to-face interactions to ensure that your team trusts you, when virtually/remotely every aspect of your behavior has to change. Prioritize ensuring that there is an open line of communication with the members of your team, that each member has a clear structure of their working hours, deadlines, every element of your company regarding their rights and duties, even the company policies.

  • Job Burnout

As I mentioned above, before establishing remote work people had a clear mindset about work life and home life. Today this boundary has been removed, due to the fact that working remotely ended up in many cases working longer hours which led to burnout. Constant communication between you and your team is the key to distinguishing between working hours and home hours. Be clear to your employees that just because they are working from their home does not mean that you expect them to work longer hours. On the contrary a good manager empathizes towards its employees. Listening to your team's issues and struggles can help them to calm and sort out the problems they may have.

The challenges and tips mentioned above are the most common one’s I have seen so far in my personal and professional career. As a business and life coach also I find it highly important to me that as a manager you try to establish the tips mentioned below which can ease the pressure and challenges of the work-from-home model for management and organizations.

Sofia Kakkava's team in the process
Remote work

1. Be more a mentor than a boss.

Confronting issues while working is typical for each employee, and coaching in each step is great for a manager. Being too bossy can demotivate your workers and lead them to turn out to be more casual. Being a mentor and coaching your team is one of the most mind-blowing tips to make your team more efficient. Apart from coaching, a few different exercises like, appreciating them for each and every accomplishment, connecting with them in day to day fun exercises, keeping them at the front with regards to any accomplishment, and so on goes a long way.

2. Understanding every employee's issue.

Everybody has an alternate home environment. Some of your team might have spouses, children, or other family members, some may not. It is likewise that some are working from a café rather than home, and some are facing web or power issues. Understanding their concerns and not judging and comparing their situation with other colleagues is a very important factor. That can make your remote working model simple and interesting for your team. This is also a very good way to enhance trust on your team that you are reliable and discreet.

Sofia Kakkava's team
Happy team is a productive team

3. Celebrate remote social interactions and activities.

Since face-to-face celebrations and affirmations are off limits, it is a good tactic to keep your employees engaged in remote social interactions and activities. Carving out some time from scheduled meetings can be helpful or performing some remote social activities every Friday for examply. That way your employees can be more motivated and productive and they will have something to wait for.

As a manager you should keep these things in mind when leading your remote team in order to assure that your working model is successful. Each of the tips mentioned above and advice requires patience, attention, flexibility, and consistency. Working out on these tips can lead to better results and help you handle your team more easily and comfortably.

4. Become the leader that “inspires” you.

No one is a born leader—everyone can develop leadership skills and everyone can benefit from using them. Overcoming any obstacles you may have as a manager of a remote team may be problematic but it is highly important to work on your skills in order to be a role model for your team who will inspire trust among the colleagues and cope efficiently with any situation.

First, take time to honestly analyze yourself. Learn to understand yourself. It’s the first step to understanding others.

Consider these important questions:

  • What kind of leader am I? One who helps solve problems? A leader who helps people get along? How do others see me as a leader?

  • What are my goals, purposes, and expectations in working with this particular group?

Identify areas for improvement. Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Am I aware of how others think and feel?

  2. How do I help others perform to the best of their abilities?

  3. Am I willing to accept responsibility?

  4. Am I willing to try new ideas and new ways of doing things?

  5. Am I able to communicate with others effectively?

  6. Do I accept and appreciate other perspectives and opinions?

Devise a strategy for upgrading your skills. There are many online trainings that can help you elevate your skills, leadership podcasts and online coaching, where I could help you become the manager you once wished had!

If you need support you can always reach out here!


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