Overcome challenges of distributed teams
Updated: Jan 6, 2022
Distributed teams offer unique challenges that can be tough for managers to overcome, but they're also an incredible asset. Here are four key strategies to help you form a successful team:
1. Communicate More, Not Less
Being spread out around the world means that members of your distributed team won't communicate as frequently as they would if everyone worked in the same office. This can make it difficult to establish and maintain good working relationships. However not communicating makes it even harder to stay on the same page, which only increases the problems.
The balance between communicating enough and communicating too much can be tough to find. You should aim for more communication but not so much that it becomes overwhelming. Face-to-face conversation is still important, even if team members are working remotely. The "water cooler" talks that happen when everyone gathers in the break room make a team more cohesive and productive.
2. Define Remote Work Policies Early On
Your distributed team will have different work hours, which means that they will accomplish more tasks while others sleep. This is a valuable benefit that boosts productivity but it also requires you to think creatively about your remote working policies.
Employees who work from home typically have fewer distractions, which is a valuable benefit. However, it also means that your employees might not get bored and take breaks, or feel the desire to socialize with co-workers in person. These policies should be clearly defined before someone starts working remotely so that everyone understands them and knows what they can expect.
3. Manage Remote Workers As If They Were In The Office
Managing employees remotely is very different from managing those who are always sitting in the office next to you. It's important to keep all of your employees accountable and on task, even if they work remotely. You need to treat remote workers as if they were actually present in the office.
Creating clear work expectations, keeping employees on-track with their tasks, and motivating your team are critical whether they work in an office or remotely. You should hold your employees accountable for reaching milestones and following through on their commitments, even if you can't see them actually doing what they're supposed to be doing. This will help you manage your distributed team more effectively, and boost the productivity of your entire company.
4. Encourage Your Employees To Collaborate Remotely
Team members that work remotely but never collaborate with each other often feel isolated and disconnected from their team. The lack of face-to-face interactions can cause these feelings to spiral out of control, leading to missed milestones and low morale. You need to encourage your employees to collaborate, even if they work remotely.
You can encourage collaboration without spending too much time or money on it by adopting the right policies and procedures. If possible, you should schedule regular meetings between all of your team members. These gatherings don't have to be all face-to-face or held at a particular location, as long as they happen frequently enough to keep everyone on the same page.
These meetings should be used to discuss any problems that might arise with your product, update each member of the team on the current project status, and come up with new ways to reach your goals. You can even use these meetings as opportunities to boost morale by asking everyone for their input or giving them recognition for a job well done.
There are many strategies that your business can use to build up a solid foundation which will enable you to successfully manage a distributed team. Creating clear work expectations, collaborating often, and treating all of your employees the same are some of the best ways that you can maximize productivity while minimizing problems. Knowing how to communicate with your employees is also critical, even if some of them work remotely.
There are several benefits to managing a distributed team, but that doesn't mean it's always easy. You need to think creatively about how you can connect with your employees and motivate them on an ongoing basis.