During the Covid-19 pandemic, most businesses were forced to work remotely. Now that the restrictions have been lifted, many organizations have allowed employees to continue to work remotely.
Working from home provides employees with many benefits, such as more freedom, higher productivity levels, less time spent commuting, and a better work-life balance. However, there’s also a flip side. Remote work can contribute to a reduced sense of belonging among employees and many may even have a difficult time motivating themselves to complete certain tasks which can hinder the company’s overall progress.
For this reason, many managers find it challenging to lead their work group remotely and feel uncertain about how to maintain a good work environment.
This article is aimed at helping managers understand and navigate the main challenges of remote work and learn about the best solutions that can ensure effective remote team management.
Tracking Work Progress and Productivity
Tracking tasks and productivity is crucial for any remote work environment and by simply tracking the progress of assignments, managers can ensure that the remote employees are working on the most important projects and that no one is left behind.
In addition, this can also help managers identify areas where employees can improve their work rate and productivity. By using remote workers time tracking tools, for instance, managers can see what their employees are working on, when they work, and for how long.
This makes things a lot easier when managing remote employees who are not physically present at the office and allows you to check on their clock-in and clock-out times, break times, and the amount of time they spend on a certain task. You can also see what they are doing at any given time of the workday, look at the websites they visit, and check what apps might be working in the background.
In addition, these types of software solutions generate productivity reports that can help you understand remote employee performance and improve project management.
Challenges in Collaborating Effectively
Team collaboration can be challenging for any team, especially when it comes to working remotely. This comes as a result of the lack of direct face-to-face communication and may lead to poor team dynamics and misunderstandings.
Managers are therefore required to do their best and create a team culture that encourages open communication and collaboration. They should focus on creating a remote work policy, introducing flexible working hours, and fostering a collaborative environment.
Managers need to encourage collaborative learning, as this is a foolproof way to boost teamwork. When remote team members learn together, they can share their expertise and knowledge and grow together as a team.
The best way to encourage your employees to share their knowledge and expertise is to make use of an online learning platform that leverages collaborative learning that allows you to create courses in a matter of minutes.
Lack of Clear Communication
Good managers have good communication skills. They’re responsible for building a community at work and contributing to the well-being of the employees. Today, this must also be achieved remotely.
When we meet physically, we use more than just speech to communicate. This can include sending signals with our body language, appearance, and tone of voice. But when the meeting happens digitally, our communication range becomes extremely limited.
Managing a remote team is therefore about stimulating and creating human interactions to the greatest extent possible. Video calling is a great tool for that. Everyone in the team can see each other and it activates more senses than communication carried out through phone or email. Managers can make things easier for everyone involved if they introduce clear guidelines for these video calls and meetings. These types of remote meetings can create a basis for camaraderie and give a sense of unity in the group, which is important when most people are not in an office.
By organizing regular, individual meetings with their employees, managers can grasp how their team is doing, detect problems at an early stage, and be able to help with solutions. In this way, they can avoid major conflicts internally and contribute to developing solutions for more efficient routines, by simply listening and communicating with their team.
Handling Cultural Differences
As mentioned, remote work is reliant on effective collaboration and communication. However, this can be tricky if a team member is from a different culture. Therefore, when employees are scattered all over the globe, managers must learn to handle changes, emergencies, and different working styles accordingly. Their main focus should be on creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable and then monitoring the work hours of team members so that potential conflicts or disruptions caused by time-zone differences are avoided.
Managers should also train remote workers on how to handle diversity and offer valuable tips on how to deal with common issues such as disagreements and misunderstandings. This way, remote workers are given the chance to maximize productivity regardless of the distance between them and their colleagues.
Managing a team of remote workers is no easy feat but with the right strategies in place, managers can overcome some of the most common challenges when working remotely. Make sure to read the tips above and use the right tools and you’ll be on the right path to successfully managing your remote employees and avoiding unnecessary frustration and repeated failure.