Managing a remote team can require you to employ a different set of leadership skills, but it's only partially a matter of productivity. It's only human to want more than just checking off items on a to-do list - and to demand a deeper sense of accomplishment from the work we do. So, even if your operations are airtight, it's critical to maintain regular, effective communication and nurture a shared sense of purpose with remote team members.
Here are the 5 ways you can build and manage a highly productive and happy remote team:
1. Honor Regular One-on-Ones and Team Meetings. Avoid the temptation to treat 1:1 meetings with your team members or more formal touchbases with your whole team as moveable. To establish a sense of structure and framework, treat recurring meetings with remote workers as set in stone.
2. Embrace Real-Time Collaboration Apps. From Slack to Asana, there are many highly sophisticated applications that facilitate real-time collaboration. These platforms help keep remote workers from feeling like they're in the dark on project status by providing visibility into relevant conversations, and they also keep workflow, dependencies and key milestones in check.
3. Establish Virtual Drop-In Hours. Use your video conferencing platform of choice to establish a virtual meeting room that allows people to pop in and out of live conversations with you in a way that resembles in-house stand-ups or drive-by chats. By making yourself accessible to your team in a more informal way, you can get all the productivity-boosting benefits of working side-by-side without being in the same physical location.
4. Turn On Your Video Cam. It can be tempting to sub in that polished headshot for an actual live broadcast, but it's best to turn on your camera as much as possible. Especially when working remote, it's key to get input from facial expressions and other non-verbal cues, and it also fosters a sense of connection and camaraderie that's so important for any team.
5. Schedule Time to Blow Off Steam. In-person team-building events are a luxury of proximity, but that doesn't mean remote workers can't bond. In our modern world, there are lots of ways to stay connected. Some ideas include a standing Friday afternoon virtual cocktail or kombucha date, a Slack channel dedicated to a shared team love of a fun reality show, or a regular meetup in a cooperative video game.
It takes a little extra dedication to stay connected when you're not in actual physical proximity of your co-workers, team members and colleagues, but - with a little discipline and creativity in addition to cutting-edge technology - it is possible to keep both productivity and morale high.