This may seem to be obvious to some people, but managing a remote team actually differs from managing one in-house. In this article, I am going to discuss the aspects that you will want to keep in mind as a manager of a remote team to avoid challenges and delays in your project.
At Starkflow, we believe that remote teams provide so many more opportunities for a business than local ones. So what is the ultimate guide to leading your remote team to success? Let’s find out.
What’s a Remote Team?
To emphasize how a remote differs from an in-house one, it is worth defining it first. So remote team members live in different locations across the world and have diverse cultural backgrounds. These two factors play the biggest role in how collaboration within the group takes place.
Why Go Remote?
If you are still thinking: “Why bother?” and doubt transitioning to remote teams, you should probably consider the crucial benefits of collaborating remotely:
- Access to huge talent pools
- Increased productivity
- Reduced expenses
- Lower employee turnover rate
- No commuting needed
- No bureaucracy
- Huge upside
I discussed all the 7 benefits in-depth in the previous article, be sure to check that if you haven’t already.
But to be rewarded with the listed advantages, as a manager, you have to establish proper collaboration and a healthy working environment.
How to: Remote Teams
There are several vital factors in managing a remote team that you need to keep in mind:
2. Culture fit
3. Team availability
4. Setting deadlines
6. Managing salaries
These are the aspects of managing a remote business and hiring for virtual companies that appeared to be the most problematic both with Starkflow and some of our clients’ projects, especially such big international companies as Sony and Hertz.
I am going to discuss each of these separately next.
Starting with the language factor, it can be a serious barrier to proper task completion. You want to choose candidates that are fluent or close to fluent in English so that you can assign tasks without any trouble as well as discuss them with the subordinates.
Another option you can consider is hiring someone who speaks the language you or the majority of the members speak, which will work if you are hiring in neighboring states, for example.
In any case, you need to ensure that language will not be the barrier to communication in your team.
2. Culture fit
The second factor you need to consider as a manager of a remote team is employees’ culture fit.
With the differences in talent cost across the world, it is reasonable to consider hiring employees abroad: they help meet the needs without any losses. However, the differences in cultural backgrounds can play a role in how the team performs.
Since the world is becoming more global and interconnected, you have to accommodate people of different cultures in your team. So as a manager, prepare to acknowledge the differences between cultural backgrounds and personalities of your team members and be respectful of different ways and styles of communication they may show throughout the entire project.
A good way to ensure that everyone’s culture fits the team is to choose people with traits of character and values that are suitable for the entire team according to your vision, such as based on the OCEAN strategy. Taking care of this at the very beginning will help you to avoid challenges in your further collaboration.
3. Team availability
This one kind of extends the previous factor, culture fit.
At the outset, the company hiring a remote team needs to establish clear expectations about holidays and overall culture, selecting employees based on how their calendars match, since it can end up in time off overlaps and massive progress delays.
Therefore, preferably choose someone that shares your culture. If not, then make sure the culture does not affect the working process and progress and discuss how you will handle any inconveniences caused by certain traditions in the very beginning.
In fact, you can even benefit from the differences in cultural calendars between your employees. For example, Thanksgiving is not celebrated in Ukraine, a frequent outsourcing destination, which gives you some good amount of extra time for task completion while you are off with your family if you run a US-based business.
So depending on what you want, take your team’s availability throughout the year into account to make the most of your collaboration
4. Setting deadlines
First things first, always inform about what is coming next in the workload of your subordinates. This means that you should introduce tasks in advance, share your plans for the near future and set priorities right while considering the availability and estimates of your employees.
Then, always be clear on the urgency of every task and do not underestimate their importance. If they need to be done ASAP, ahead of other tasks of high priority, inform the assignee about that. And vice versa: if there is anything that needs to be done but is not that urgent, bring it out there as well so that the work can be planned properly.
Lastly, do not order but rather guide instead. You want to communicate with your team to clarify misunderstandings before starting to work on a task and figure out whether the deadline is suitable. Defining the potential problem areas before moving on to task performance will help prevent any blockers and delays later on.
With all this being said, aim to find common ground when you set deadlines and task priorities to achieve successful collaboration instead of setting expectations without your team’s input and estimates. Deadlines are vital to business growth, and finding a way to communicate time frames clearly is definitely the key to success when managing your employees online.
Our Starkflow team believes and actually knows from our experience that well-established communication plays a drastically big role in remote teams.
In order to achieve open communication, you should use different channels of communication for different tasks and purposes, such as emails, Slack, Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Toggl, and Trello. Create as many chats and boards as you need, as long as they are not overwhelming. Make sure everyone’s available and can access each other whenever one may need to.
Another key practice is to hold meetings regularly, which, in a business that is mostly run online, means to have calls or synchronize while emailing daily or weekly.
In addition, do not solely focus on work issues. Remember that you are all humans and have lives going on. So combine work-related discussions and chats for fun to establish favorable relationships and atmosphere within the group.
6. Managing salaries
Last but not least, managing salaries can be tough for employees located overseas, but it is definitely manageable.
Start with investigating local laws and tax regulations in the home country of your employees. Then, choose the currency to calculate and pay the salaries. Usually, USD equivalent to local money is a universally convenient option.
An aspect to consider here is the collaboration form, particularly whether it is project-based or full-time salary you are going to pay. Also, agree on the payment day(s) or terms.
The next step is to investigate your banking options. At this point, you can consider hiring a local payment partner to get some recommendations.
You better take care of this aspect before actually hiring someone to avoid any payment or finance regulations later.
Remote teams are great in how they perform and reduce project costs, but failing to manage your employees well can really depreciate the input of the employees.
However, keeping in mind the listed aspects will help you avoid some of the most common mistakes in managing a remote team and establish a favorable environment for your collaboration.
If you are looking for a remote team or a particular candidate but do not want to deal with the hiring and administration, contact us, and Starkflow will take care of your business.