The question, “Are you managing remote teams, or do you commute to your workplace?” has become a global conversation starter when discussing work routines. The permanence of remote work is undeniable, and most employees favor the flexibility it provides.
According to statistics from Forbes, more than 71% of employees find that working remotely helps them balance their work and personal lives. Nearly 65% of workers want to work remotely all the time, and over 57% would look for a new job if their current company didn’t offer a remote work model.
With the continual rise in remote companies and hybrid workforces, remote managers must learn how to manage remote team members and create a thriving digital workplace where employees can be productive and satisfied. When managing remote teams, the challenge lies in maintaining cohesion, promoting employee retention, remote management, and keeping employees engaged irrespective of geographical distances.
With the emergence of AI-powered end-to-end technology solutions like 6Connex, remote operations have become collaborative and productive for organizations worldwide. Using best practices for managing remote teams, you can bring your company closer to achieving its goals and drive business success. Let’s dive into what managing remote teams involves.
Benefits of Remote Teams
In a recent poll conducted by TINYpulse, of over 2000 workers, more than 91% asserted that they were more productive and engaged when working outside of the office. The results indicated that factors such as a healthier work-life balance and managers’ trust without unnecessary supervision help remote employees get more work done and make them more likely to stay with an organization long-term.
Additionally, remote work can allow organizations to find and recruit highly skilled candidates from anywhere, widening their talent pool instead of limiting searches to a reasonable commute zone. Remote work can thereby diversify the workforce and introduce various mindsets and problem-solving skills to teams.
With a flexible work model, employees can work comfortably, focus more on projects, eliminate the stress of long commutes, and improve work-life balance. A flexible work model can also boost employee retention.
Despite these benefits, however, it’s important to note that a remote work model may have a few challenges, and maintaining strong connections with employees in creative ways can go a long way toward retaining staff.
Challenges of Managing Remote Teams
Managing remote team challenges is a topic that remote leaders grapple with. Certain factors can make managing these connections in remote teams demanding. For instance, remote employees’ job performance and engagement may decrease due to the lack of a dedicated work environment that offers immediate face-to-face connection and supervision. Additionally, physical and emotional isolation, distractions at home, and departmental or functional silos within your organization can worsen productivity.
It’s also important to remember that every remote employee works in a different environment and faces unique circumstances. Some might have home offices, while others might attend meetings from a shared space. These varied setups can influence the quality and strength of remote team connections.
Time zone differences can also pose a significant challenge when managing remote teams. Conducting remote team meetings, training, and other activities while finding a window of time that works for everyone can be difficult. Time zone differences can also cause issues when coordinating communication.
Speaking of communication, ineffective and inconsistent communication is another hurdle of remote working. Written messages can be misinterpreted in various ways, as the sender’s tone and intentions may not be understood without the necessary visual and contextual cues (body language, tone of voice, expressions, etc.). Strengthening remote team connections requires leaders to be proactive in addressing these communication barriers. Other challenges to managing remote teams include:
- Lack of clear expectations and boundaries
- Feeling disconnected
- Problems balancing trust and accountability
- Burnout and decreased productivity
- Poor training structure or tools
- Lack of management availability
12 Tips to Manage a Remote Team Effectively
Wondering how to manage a remote team successfully and overcome the associated challenges? The following are some valuable tips:
1. Optimize Onboarding
Establishing a successful remote onboarding experience is crucial to enhancing employee satisfaction and making new hires feel valued in your organization. Review your existing onboarding processes and rework job descriptions and handbooks to include the following:
- New remote work policies
- Important forms and links, such as those for benefits
- Links to resources and policies
- Multimedia to share information in an engaging way
2. Enhance Communication
Regular communication is crucial for managing remote teams. Schedule periodic audio or video calls with team members to evaluate their work progress, understand their challenges, and gauge team spirit.
Keep employees in the loop regarding all company, departmental, and industry updates and be available for any questions or concerns. Checking in periodically with remote employees can make them feel heard. You can solve problems, provide continuous feedback, and enhance morale and engagement.
However, while regular communication is essential, checking in too often will make employees feel you are micromanaging and don’t trust them, thus hampering collaboration. Hence, avoid going too far.
Video conferencing can provide visual cues, leading to richer communication and making conversations feel more personal than written or audio-only interactions. Comprehensive virtual event platforms like 6Connex have a vast suite of event tech integrations, with applications like Skype, Zoom, MS Teams, etc., that facilitate direct face-to-face communication with remote employees.
In addition, integrations with apps like JotCast, SpatialChat, Wordly, etc., can be helpful for more straightforward, quicker, and more time-sensitive communications and enable employees to be in touch throughout the day.
3. Clearly Define Goals and Expectations
Adapting to a remote work model can be challenging for workers. Set clearly defined goals and expectations and communicate desired results.
- Schedule regular weekly team meetings to follow up on progress.
- Confirm how, when, and whom to update regarding work and which communication channels or tools to use for interactions.
- Discuss and clarify the specific hours workers are expected to be online, respond to emails, and be available to attend meetings.
- Create milestones with precise deadlines for tasks and projects.
- Be clear about time zone considerations, preferred project management tools, scheduling expectations, etc.
- Ask employees for their feedback on goals and expectations to ensure alignment.
- Remember that empathy is essential to keep the team aligned and motivated. Be sensitive to learning curves and communicate that work-life balance and wellness management are priorities.
In addition, define the ‘what’ and the ‘why.’ Ensure everyone knows the purpose of KPIs and the significance of individual roles and contributions in achieving organizational productivity and goals. This clarity will help employees emotionally connect with the organization’s mission and boost their performance. Understanding the direct link between their efforts and the broader productivity and goals of the company can be a significant motivator.
Provide the necessary training and resources so employees can create SOPs and outline plans to achieve these goals. Doing so can also enhance creativity, instill a sense of ownership, and directly contribute to overall productivity.
4. Ensure Resource Accessibility
Ensure your employees can access all work essentials, such as project schedules, timelines, background documents, brand and messaging guidelines, and presentations. You can share them in a central online location, like Smartsheet, Dropbox, SharePoint, etc. You can also use a shared online calendar to allow employees easy access to peers’ schedules.
5. Avoid Overload
When employees are co-located, it is easier to see if they are overburdened. You can observe them leaving late or skipping breaks. But this insight is absent in a remote work environment, and employees can quickly get overloaded.
Avoid this scenario by communicating only during work hours unless it is an absolute emergency. Also, if you need to send an urgent task, assessing the employee’s workload and reviewing the calendar to determine how the new assignment will affect the employee is crucial.
6. Prevent Burnout
Focusing on the employees’ mental health and overall well-being is important. Not having people-focused processes can cause stress and, eventually, burnout. Prevent this by building a people-centered culture and prioritizing trust, accountability, honesty, collaboration, and autonomy.
You can include flexible work hours, paid time-off, paid sick leave, vacation-positive guidance, etc., in your policies. Document these policies in a centralized place for everyone to access, especially new hires.
Define a budget for improving workplace well-being and check in on your employees frequently for updates on their physical and mental health. Establish a feedback loop to understand how workers feel and how you can support them.
You can also offer well-being benefits like comprehensive health insurance, employee assistance programs, gym memberships, etc.
7. Lead with Empathy
Creating a culture of empathy is essential for ensuring your employees’ emotional wellness. According to a 2021 survey by Ernst & Young, over 89% of employees feel that empathy improves leadership and inspires a positive change in the workplace, leading to better efficiency, creativity, innovation, and productivity.
Demonstrate empathy and show employees that you prioritize their workplace happiness and satisfaction. Encourage frequent communications and social interactions so you can listen to their experiences, understand their perspectives, and offer support where possible.
8. Be Informal
Initiate non-work-related conversations during your calls. Get creative by hosting virtual birthday parties, happy hours, anniversary celebrations, coffee breaks, pizza parties, or recognition sessions. You can even send party packages to employees in advance for them to enjoy. Such activities go a long way in fostering team spirit, reducing feelings of isolation, boosting employee engagement, encouraging social interactions, and promoting a sense of belonging.
9. Consider Time Zone Differences
Working successfully across different time zones is a common challenge with a diversified workforce. Clearly communicate time zone considerations and scheduling expectations with your team members to manage this. It will help prevent conflict when sending communications or assigning projects.
Be specific when discussing dates and times with your peers, and state deadlines in every relevant time zone. For instance, when sending task assignments to your global team members, mention the date, day, time (am/pm), time zone CST/ET/PTCET, etc.
Be respectful of your employees’ time zone boundaries and preferred work hours. Allow team members enough time to respond to emails, meetings, or tasks.
10. Incorporate Virtual Team-Building Activities
Virtual team-building activities are a great way to build relationships, boost engagement, and enhance workplace culture. Some activities to try with your team include:
- Virtual movie sessions
- Virtual meet and greets
- Virtual book clubs
- Fitness challenges with virtual leaderboards
In addition, there is Trivia, a fun team-building suite of activities on Slack and MS Teams. By integrating with these platforms, virtual event solutions like 6Connex can allow you to engage remote employees with games like Hangman, GIF charades, instant quizzes, custom polls, Pictionary, etc., all of which allow for post-game banter and other friendly conversations. Another Slack extension, Donut, can help boost your team-building efforts by automatically inviting workers for a video call to get to know each other better.
11. Choose the Right Tech
A significant factor in the success of a remote work model is technology. It’s critical to research and identify easy-to-use solutions that enhance your employees’ workflows.
Ask yourself which tech will enable team members to work best and stay productive, how easy it will be for them to adopt, what features are required, how technical support will be provided, etc.
Opting for virtual event platforms like 6Connex can foster better networking, collaboration, and engagement among remote workers. The platform offers networking lounges with live text chats and real-time multi-language translation to facilitate better communication between a dispersed workforce. Employees can easily have one-on-one or group chat sessions and share relevant information.
The platform’s elastic architecture allows for seamless integration with third-party applications and engagement tools to help your remote team maximize the value of their interactions and drive business success.
In addition, 6Connex offers different levels of customized support and services and allows you and your team to be as hands-on or hands-off as you like.
12. Leverage Virtual Offices and Venues
One of the best ways to manage remote teams effectively is to offer employees a shared online workspace where they can easily connect and communicate with each other irrespective of their location and collaborate on projects using a comprehensive suite of readily available tools.
6Connex’s virtual office space is a 360-degree explorable space nested in the platform’s immersive virtual venue. It is entirely customizable with various background templates and clickable actions.
Features of 6Connex’s Virtual Office
Always-On Virtual Workspace
6Connex offers a virtual office that’s accessible around the clock, catering to global teams. This continuous access ensures that employees across different time zones can effortlessly engage, access recorded sessions, and utilize vital resources within the platform.
Experience fluid communication and collaboration in the virtual space. Features include real-time screen sharing, collaborative note-taking, interactive whiteboards, live video streams, group chats, one-on-one conversations, and seamless integration with office applications.
Effortless Meeting Setup
Conduct spontaneous and efficient meetings without the need for links or calendar invites. This feature ensures that crucial discussions requiring prompt attention can be addressed immediately.
The platform provides a clear view of who’s present in the virtual office and their ongoing projects. This transparency allows for effective tracking of productivity and engagement levels for remote work management.
Tailored Virtual Environment
Transform and personalize your virtual space to mirror your physical office. Design your remote environment with spaces like training rooms, reception areas, and meeting rooms. Enhance the ambiance with branded visuals and logos. For a touch of fun and identity, employees can craft their virtual avatars.
6Connex: Your Premier Virtual Event Space with AI-Driven Features
Introducing the 6Connex Virtual Venue:
Crafted for events that engage both internal teams and external stakeholders, such as clients and vendors, the 6Connex platform offers unparalleled scalability. It’s designed to accommodate thousands of participants from around the world seamlessly.
Easy Access & Customization:
Begin with a dedicated landing page or microsite where participants can register and log in. Choose from a diverse gallery of customizable templates, ensuring your virtual space resonates with your brand’s unique aesthetics.
Step into the auditorium for live and on-demand webcasts. Whether it’s audio, video, slides, webcam footage, or screen-sharing presentations, the auditorium delivers a comprehensive viewing experience.
Effortless Global Communication:
With 6Connex’s live text chat, communication becomes a breeze. It offers real-time translation in over 50 languages, ensuring that language barriers are a thing of the past.
Harness the power of 6Connex’s AI Matchmaking to foster meaningful connections among attendees. By analyzing attendee data and interactions, it provides curated recommendations, enhancing networking opportunities and personalizing the event experience.
Centralized Resource Hub & Content Hub:
The resource center acts as your information hub, ensuring attendees have easy access to essential materials. Additionally, the AI-driven Content Hub offers personalized content suggestions, enhancing user engagement and ensuring attendees always have relevant content at their fingertips.
Engaging Exhibition Spaces:
Navigate through expansive exhibit halls, complete with meeting rooms, lobbies, and booths. It’s a space designed for rich interactions, networking, and knowledge exchange with peers, partners, and industry mavens.
Experience 6Connex Firsthand with Quest:
Words can only convey so much. Dive into Quest, our always-on virtual showcase, to experience the pinnacle of event technology. Within this perpetual virtual venue, you’ll grasp why 6Connex stands at the forefront of global event solutions. Embark on a tour and envision how you can craft immersive experiences for all your upcoming events powered by AI-driven features.
The Importance of Maintaining Connections in a Digital World
In today’s fast-paced digital world, maintaining strong connections is more important than ever. Whether it’s between friends, family, or colleagues, these connections form the backbone of our social and professional lives. They provide support, foster collaboration, and create a sense of belonging.
Case Study: Strengthening Employee Connections in a Digital Era with Exploratist
Exploratist is a pioneering firm that identifies and leverages innovative solutions to fortify the bond between employees and employers.
With a client portfolio predominantly comprising multinational corporations scattered across Romania and occasionally overseas, Exploratist was accustomed to facilitating live employee experiences. However, the advent of the pandemic and the subsequent social distancing mandates posed significant challenges. Engaging and informing employees became an uphill task. Recognizing the imperative nature of sustaining employee morale, managers were on the hunt for strategies to keep their teams connected and reinforce their value within the organization.
While the concept of integrating a virtual component to their conferences wasn’t alien to Exploratist, there were reservations. The essence of Romanian culture, which emphasizes physical camaraderie, raised several questions:
- How can we emulate the in-person event ambiance to ensure everyone’s comfort?
- Will the virtual setting resonate with their organizational ethos?
- What if there’s a technical glitch or the platform stalls during live streaming?
- How can we ensure maximum participation and interaction from clients and their workforce?
- What strategies can be employed to boost engagement?
To cater to their clientele’s evolving needs, Exploratist underwent a transformation, incorporating virtual corporate events into their operational blueprint. Post-March 2020, they embarked on a quest to identify a proficient platform equipped with a comprehensive toolkit to transition their events to a digital realm. Their due diligence led them to 6Connex, a platform celebrated for its security, reliability, and bespoke graphics capabilities.
Corina Ilie, the Senior Partner of Product Design and Innovation at Exploratist, vouched for 6Connex’s stability and security. She emphasized the platform’s adaptability, catering to events ranging from 500 to 3,000 participants, irrespective of the IT security protocols of various organizations.
The alliance with 6Connex marked Exploratist’s maiden venture into online event management. Within a span of 10 months, they successfully orchestrated over 15 events, both domestically and internationally, with an impressive turnout of 10,000 attendees.
Striving to replicate the vibrancy of their in-person events, Exploratist leveraged 6Connex’s customization capabilities to exceed expectations. Feedback and statistics further attested to the platform’s success:
- Attendance Rate: 95%
- Satisfaction Quotient: 90%
- Average Engagement Duration: 6 hours
Participants particularly lauded features like custom-made visual backgrounds, video chat functionalities, third-party tool integrations, and bespoke booth features.
The collaboration with 6Connex enabled Exploratist to pivot strategically in a market where the digital transformation of events was still nascent. With unwavering support from the 6Connex team, Exploratist is poised to leverage the platform for future endeavors. As Ilie aptly summarizes, “6Connex equips us with the trifecta we seek: technical robustness, user experience, and tailor-made solutions aligning with organizational profiles and requirements.”
Achieving Seamless Remote Team Management
With best practices for managing remote teams and access to all-in-one solutions like 6Connex, you can easily create an energetic and thriving business with remote employees and drive your workforce toward success. To discover more about how you can help your remote team excel and foster a positive culture, request a virtual event platform demo today!