3 things to improve when you lead a remote team

October 7, 2021

Managing a team is always a challenge, because of the different personalities you have to deal with, lead, inspire, help grow. However, traditional teams usually were formed with people with (almost) the same cultural background, same native language, and many times, very similar originally from a place that you already had information about. However, remote teams allow you to hire talent from anywhere and give managers the chance to access highly talented people from all over the world. At the same time, leading such a team can be challenging because personalities are, without doubt, more different, challenges of each to them is different, and desires come in different shapes.

Remote working schedules

Depending on the team that you manage, people might work on different timezones and schedules, might have different important celebrations and days off during the year. Trying to set clear expectations from the calendar of every person helps your team stay productive and satisfied with their schedule. It is important that people overlap when working from different continents, but at the same time, keep always in mind the importance of work-life balance and what are the factors that make your team happy.

  • Ask your team to set their working hours in the calendar, so everyone can easily see them
  • Ask your team to set up their timezone, such that in case of an emergency to know at what time they contact their teammate
  • Encourage them to ask before booking outside the working hours (and teach them to make it as little as possible)
  • Remind your team to take lunch breaks
  • Celebrate together the important holidays that everyone has. Say "Happy New Year" on traditional new year's eve, but also on the Chinese new year.

Socialise in the team

Whereas in a traditional office, it is much easier for a team to get to know each other, a remote team needs more time to bond. As a leader, you have the chance to take the initiative and encourage people to find ways to socialise more, such that, even if they do not go for beers after work, they still have time to chat about things that are not related to their work.

  • Organise a monthly social call, where attendance is not mandatory, but people can join to discuss various topics.
  • Whenever someone new joins the team, encourage everyone to introduce themselves and share more than their name & location. (my manager used to ask us for a fun fact).
  • Encourage your team to share interesting things about their location, culture, or hobbies.

Communicate better

Communication is the key to any successful relationship, right? Remote teams are no exception from this and it is your responsibility to encourage communication, It helps collaboration, increases efficiency, and makes people more productive.

  • Create an environment where everyone in the team can easily keep in touch
  • Define the purpose of each mean of communication
  • Use video-conference tools and stay with the camera on, because it enables face-to-face communication
  • Encourage people to communicate at a certain frequency, but only if it is needed. Too many calls can be tiring, but at the same time, no communication makes people from a remote team feel isolated.

Remote teams are a blessing and a curse at the same time, depending on how you choose to lead them. The opportunities that they bring, the diversity that they come with, and the different perspectives that any challenge will bring help any team solves issues faster. Finding ways to connect the team and to keep engaged is part of the things you will overcome as a leader. Try to focus more on the solutions you can bring, build a team that has the means to know each other and help them find ways to communicate and collaborate together.

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