Though the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are now beginning to subside, it seems that remote work is here to stay. All evidence points to working from home being the ‘new normal’, with surveys showing that 78% of workers wouldn’t want to return to the office full-time, and 31% reporting that they’d prefer not to return to the office at all.
Working from home has offered workers greater flexibility and freedom. Many who began working from home throughout the course of the pandemic are now reluctant to return to the office. Working from home is, however, not without its challenges.
The lack of physical or social interaction has led workers to report increased feelings of isolation. And managing a team of workers from behind a computer screen is far from easy.
So how can we overcome the challenges of remote work? At Canadian Payroll Services, we have a wealth of knowledge and expertise when it comes to supporting remote work arrangements. In this blog, we’ll be sharing 10 top tips for managing a remote team.
Common Challenges of Managing Global Teams Remotely
First, before we run through or remote team management tips, we’ll set out a few of the challenges of managing a remote team.
Social isolation is something that’s often taken for granted in a physical office setting, but is sorely missed when working fully remote. Loneliness and low mental health are among the most regular complaints of teams working from home.
Unclear expectations are also more likely to occur when working fully remote. Guidance which would take minutes to get in an office can take much longer with the asynchronous communication of a fully remote global team, and this can make reaching out for help much more daunting for employees.
Lack of Face-to-face Contact
Though research indicates the opposite, there is often a widespread worry from managers working with remote teams about visibility. When you’re not physically in the same space as the team you manage, it can become easy to wonder how productive your team is being, which can lead to micromanaging. Employees may then feel they aren’t trusted, and could feel their managers aren’t supportive of them, reducing their satisfaction at work.
Managers may find that, when managing fully remote teams, they’re working with a group of people who may never have met in-person, and the bonds that you build when working in an office are much slower to form while working remotely. Hybrid work arrangements present another unique challenge, as managers may be working with a team where some members are remote, and others are in-person.
Though praised for its flexibility, working from home does present a unique challenge regarding communication. Conversations regarding ideas and projects at work aren’t struck up spontaneously, meaning that remote workers often struggle to communicate and socialise as they would working physically in an office space.
Tips for Managing a Remote Team
Now we’ve established the challenges that come with managing remote workers, it’s time to run through our top tips for bringing a global team together remotely.
Communication is not as easy in a remote team as it is when working together in a shared office space, so going out of your way to overcommunicate with your team is necessary. Set up regular meetings with your team to increase visibility on everyone’s workflow, and to give the team time to bond.
In the case that you manage remote workers as well as workers in an office space, make more of a conscious effort to communicate with your remote team and keep them up to speed on office goings on.
It can be all too easy to wonder how productive your team are being when you can’t see them physically but do your best to avoid micromanaging. Establish a structured routine of progress checks to keep visibility on projects, and stick to this – random check-ins can make an employee feel as though they are distrusted. Communicate clear expectations on deadlines with your team, and be sure to discuss ongoing progress and blockers or obstacles with your team so you can support them wherever necessary
It’s often difficult to ‘switch off’ when working fully remotely – you can read our tips for disconnecting from work in our piece on Ontario’s right to disconnect bill. To whatever extent possible, encourage your team to work flexibly based on their needs. Let them know they can attend to any quick errands necessary, or to go for a short walk to help with their concentration and mood. Be sure to also encourage your team to take the breaks to which they’re entitled.
Be Mindful of Others
As we’ve touched on above, working from home can feel very isolating, so it’s important that you check in with your team to find out how they’re doing, and if there’s any other support they need.
Ensure Access to Shared Resources
Ensure that important documents and essentials are shared in a centralised online location, such as SharePoint or Google Docs. These centralised files should be accessible to all remote employees.
Moreover, you should endeavour to make sure any documents being worked on by your team remotely are available in a shared folder. In the event that an individual can’t make it to work on a particular day, having access to what they were working on through a shared, online folder means that it’s much easier to pick up any work where necessary.
Endeavour to share your online calendar, and encourage your team members share theirs as well. This provides everyone with information on the rest of the team’s availability each day, allowing all members of the remote team to be respectful and mindful of each other’s time.
Be Attentive to New Remote Workers
Team members who have experience working fully remote may not need much support. But new starts who are working remotely for the first time are likely to need support and guidance while they adjust. Check in regularly with new team members to find out how they’re adjusting. Be open to supporting their needs as they acclimatize to remote work.
Set Clear Expectations and Boundaries
As communicating doesn’t happen as quickly or freely as it does in a shared office space, expectations and deadlines aren’t always clear when working remotely. Be sure to communicate your expectations of team members clearly, ensure that everyone is aware of priorities, deadlines, and goals.
Also, be clear on boundaries regarding out of hours work communication. Working from home can blur the boundary between professional and personal time, so make sure you’re clear with your team on what is expected with them regarding out of hours emails, texts, and calls.
Ensure Technical Support is Available
Remote work would be altogether impossible without technology, so it’s crucial to make sure everyone has the work-from-home set up they need to ensure productive work. Communicate with your teams about the tools and equipment they use, and make sure they have all they need to work effectively.
It’s also important to ensure access to IT support for remote workers, and to clearly establish how your team can access support, either through someone in the IT department, or through an outsourced third-party.
Trust Your Team
The lack of visibility on a team that comes with working remotely can often breed feelings of distrust. Remind yourself that your remote employees work just as effectively as they would in an office, if not more effectively (if research is to be believed).
Communicate frequently but avoid micromanaging. Your team will work as well as they would in an office setting, so long as they have a manager who advocates for their interests.
Hire the Right Remote Workers for your Team
Hiring the right candidate for a remote role may seem a daunting process. You can remove the risk by hiring through an experienced Professional Employer Organization (PEO) or Employer of Record (EOR) business.
An EOR or PEO won’t assume total control over the recruitment of your remote team. But we can offer knowledge, expertise and support throughout the hiring and onboarding process. If you’re hiring remote workers on a global scale, then working with a local EOR or PEO can help you identify promising candidates from international talent pools. It can also ensure you remain fully compliant with local employment laws and regulations throughout the process.
How We Can help
As a PEO that also offers EOR services, Canadian Payroll Services hires, onboards, and payrolls Canadian remote customer service workers to support your core business in different time zones. We have years of experience in hiring, onboarding, and supporting remote workers across Canada for international businesses. We have all the knowledge needed to ensure you’re managing your remote teams in the most effective way.
Want to learn more about how Canadian Payroll Services can help you overcome the challenges of managing a remote team? Get in touch!