infoTECH Feature

September 30, 2020

4 Tips for Managing a Team

How to Manage a Remote Team Without Skipping a Beat

Whether by choice or default, thousands of companies have recently transitioned from physical office setups to remote teams. If your business is among this swelling contingency, you’re likely experiencing some friction as it relates to managing your team and ensuring you get optimum productivity and output.

While every team is different, it’s often helpful to have some strategies and frameworks in place to help manage a remote team and get the best possible results. In this article, we’ll explore a few of these top tips - giving you the freedom to pick and choose the ones that align with your objectives.

The Benefits of Remote Teams

If you zoom out and look at remote teams from a wide-lens perspective, it’s easy to see the benefits and advantages that come with operating remotely. Here are some of the top ones that come to mind:

  • Lower overhead costs. Think about all of the traditional overhead costs that can be reduced and/or eliminated by switching from a physical office to remote-based teams. They include office space lease, heating and cooling, electricity, office supplies, etc. This can result in thousands of dollars in savings every single month.
  • Greater efficiency. Contrary to popular belief, employees tend to be much more efficient when they work remotely. According to researcher Nicholas Bloom, this has to do with a variety of factors - including that remote workers tend to work longer shifts and/or work hours that are more conducive to optimizing their own productivity. (In other words, morning people will wake up and work early morning hours, while night owls will shift their schedule to later in the day.)
  • Higher employee satisfaction. Research from Zenefits reveals that 73 percent of employees who have flexible work arrangements allowing them to work from home “somewhat” or “strongly agree” that this setup increases their satisfaction with work.
  • Larger talent pool. When your team is based out of a physical office, your options for hiring new talent are limited. You typically cast a local net. When you operate remotely, you’re no longer tied to zip codes. You can hire nationally (and even internationally), which gives you access to the best talent.

This is just a small taste. There are dozens of smaller benefits that businesses enjoy when they make the switch to remote teams. And whether it’s your plan to eventually return to a physical workplace, or you’ve made a permanent switch, perks like these make it easy to see why so many companies opt for virtual teams.

The Challenges of Remote Teams

Managing a remote team isn’t always ideal. There are plenty of challenges that must be identified, addressed, and overcome. They include:

  • Communication issues. While it’s true that there are a number of highly effective communication platforms and apps, nothing quite matches the power of face-to-face interaction and engagement. You’re going to run into issues where something isn’t communicated as clearly as it could be and/or certain conversations or directions are misconstrued based on the absence of body language and voice inflection.
  • Tech problems. Remote teams rely almost exclusively on the quality of tools that are available. If there isn’t a tool that offers the functionality you need, it’s going to create friction and suppress results.
  • Lack of interaction. While introverts rejoice at the idea of working remotely, the truth is that virtual teams can be negatively impacted by the lack of social interaction. If nothing else, it makes it more difficult to develop a strong corporate culture.
  • Less accountability. If you have the right people on your team, this won’t be a huge issue. But for certain teams, the lack of accountability in remote settings can lead to deep issues that undermine the integrity of the team as a whole.

While these challenges are real, they don’t have to inhibit your success. By identifying them early, you can address them in a timely manner and ensure they don’t define your organization.

4 Tips for Remote Team Management

Managing a remote team isn’t easy, but it doesn’t have to be impossible. Here are some powerful tips that will help reduce friction and improve your odds of success.

  1. Hire the Right People

According to, which advocates for remote software development teams, the key is to hire the right people. In particular, you want to:

  • Develop the right job description to ensure you attract people who are (a) qualified for the job, and (b) capable of thriving in a remote position.
  • Look for past remote experience. This simply shortens the learning curve and removes some of the “unknown” from the situation.
  • Search for candidates who possess a  high degree of self-discipline. You’ll be asking your team members to operate without direct supervision. Someone who possesses trust, accountability, and discipline is going to be a much better fit than someone who requires oversight around the clock.
  1. Set Clear Expectations

Your team needs to know what your expectations are for them from the very start. This includes everything from when they should be at their “desk” to how often they’re required to check in or provide reports. Good communication is a must with any remote team - and it starts with management.

  1. Use Video Whenever Possible

While we don’t advocate for unnecessary meetings, there is something to be said for leveraging video communication as much as possible. In situations where it isn’t possible to interact in a face-to-face capacity, video is the next best option. It eliminates confusion and helps create stronger bonds and rapport between co-workers.

  1. Make Time for Small Talk

When you work in a physical office, your team gets to rub shoulders at the proverbial water cooler. These thousands of small interactions are what establish strong connections and vibrant workplace culture. Without physical proximity, it’s harder to establish these bonds. But it’s not impossible.

One suggestion is to always make time for small talk at the beginning of meetings, in emails, and all other internal forms of collaboration. This small talk might seem like a waste of time, but it ultimately helps your team connect with one another - resulting in greater loyalty and satisfaction.

Set Your Team Up for Success

There’s no formula for managing a remote team. Every team is unique - in terms of people, skills, resources, and desired outcomes. But if you implement some of the tips discussed in this article, you’ll find it easier to amplify the benefits of having a remote team, while simultaneously working through the challenges to overcome potential pitfalls. Mistakes will still be made, but you’ll rest easy knowing that you’re doing everything within your control to generate results.


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