In an increasingly connected world, the technology is readily available to enable your business to harness the resources of a geographically dispersed team. There are a lot of reasons why your business might benefit from utilizing people in different parts of the country or different parts of the world – it might give you time-zone coverage to provide a 24-hour service, it might enable you to be closer to the needs of your clients, it might save you on the overheads of office space, or it might deliver cost-saving benefits by having the work completed where your salary expenses will be at their lowest.
However, trying to effectively manage a geographically dispersed workforce is a completely different dynamic compared to having all of your employees in the one room where you can have face-to-face conversations and real-time performance monitoring.
In this article we take a look at some of the best-practice hints and tips on how best to manage a remote workforce.
Don’t over-complicate things
While a remote or geographically dispersed team does bring with it some unique challenges and logistical questions, at the end of the day these are people who need your support and guidance on how to deliver the objectives that you have set for them. Communication is critical, regular performance feedback is essential, and the need to create a sense of team and common purpose remains paramount. A lot of the same principles and practices that you would use for a team that surrounds you in an office can be equally applied to remote teams – just tailored slightly to allow for the logistical realities.
Set clear expectations
When you are recruiting a new person into your existing team or setting up a new team of geographically dispersed people, setting some ground rules and clearly communicating your expectations is critical. If you need everyone to be available at a certain time for a team huddle or meeting, then you need to be clear with everyone that this is a non-negotiable aspect of the role and that non-compliance will be a negative performance factor. Make sure that each member of your team has very specific and measurable goals and targets – monitor progress against these on a regular basis and highlight if your expectations are not being met in any way.
Work hard to build a relationship
When you have a remote team it is important to build a strong working relationship with each of them. Ideally you would spend some face-to-face time with each of them during the early stage of your working relationship. It is best to try and avoid surprise or unannounced visits, plan your visits, give people time to prepare and ensure that they are able to showcase the progress that they are making.
Invest in communication
In any working relationship, effective communication is critical success. However, with a remote team, it is perhaps the most important thing to focus on. Online collaboration tools such as Slack are great if your team is all in the same time-zone, but are not ideal if you are not all on the same time-zone at the same time. Try something an industry-leading tool like Dynamics 365 sales. If you are relying on email as your primary form of communication, then set some ground rules as to how quickly people need to respond to email requests for information or updates. Apply the same rules to yourself that you are setting for your team members.