Is all or some of your team working remotely? This professional trend has certainly become commonplace, and now you can uncover a remote workforce in nearly every industry, from marketing to accounting. In fact, teleworking may be the path to success for industries as millennials gear up to join the workforce:
- 85% of millennials want to telework 100% of the time
- 84% percent want to boost their work-life balance
- 54% percent want flexible schedules
- 39% percent want to freelance
A teleworking option may be just the retention tool to use for leveraging your best and brightest to stay, too. “Forty-four percent of Millennials say, if given the choice, they would like to leave their current employers in the next two years,” according to a Deloitte report on millennial workers. The report adds, “A perceived lack of leadership-skill development and feelings of being overlooked are compounded by larger issues around work/life balance, the desire for flexibility, and a conflict of values."
The productivity and efficiency of your teleworking team is only as great as your remote management skills. So to manage team assets miles away from HQ, it’s essential to have a few practices in place to ensure success. The following streamlining strategies will help guide you in cultivating a powerful remote workforce.
Manage Your Remote Team’s Performance Effectively
Making key performance management tweaks to your in-office team is always a priority. However, doing the same for your remote team could be an effective performance management strategy. It is pretty easy to lose track of remote team members. Out of sight, out of mind is certainly applicable. This lack of remote team attention could lead to a few issues.
“Working remotely can make some people lose their focus and motivation,” says Brian Honigman of Entrepreneur. “And for business owners, it can be difficult to track an employee's progress and accomplishments when the person is working outside the office.” For instance, your remote workforce still needs those little motivational nudges in-office team members get. There can be value in encouraging your remote team as well. Give your teleworking team the “great job” pat on the back every so often to keep that positive momentum going.
A few other performance management strategies you can employ:
- Daily touch points. You want your remote team to feel like part of the team. Daily touch points lets them know you’re there as a support channel, and serves as a great moment for questions and comments. Monday is a great day for touch points.
- Weekly feedback for ongoing and new projects. Feedback is the cornerstone to any effective team, especially those teleworking. You can encourage, offer insight, brainstorm, and keep transparency in place. Friday is perfect for weekly feedback.
- Quarterly performance reviews. How do you motivate and cultivate powerful team members? Just like your in-office team, your teleworkers benefit greatly from performance reviews.
- Weekly or monthly team teleconferences. Getting the team together for a weekly or monthly teleconference builds the same team cohesion as that boardroom Monday morning. It's a great way to put new ideas on that virtual whiteboard while also promoting synergy.
Have Clear Expectations in Place
A successful remote team hinges on clear expectations. The productivity and efficiency your teleworkers put forth is simply a reflection on your management abilities. Sure, remote work is slightly less structured than traditional office practices. But if you have clear expectations in place for your remote team, they will have the structure needed to produce results. “Establishing clear lines of accountability from the outset of the working relationship by setting monthly, quarterly, and yearly performance goals as well as targets for what ‘hitting it out of the park’ would mean,” recommends Keith Ferrazzi, the founder and CEO of Ferrazzi Greenlight. When do you set these clear expectations? During onboarding. However, the conversation can and should be continuous.
Clear expectations for your remote team should include:
- The tasks to be completed weekly, and where to find those tasks
- Monthly and quarterly goals to be achieved
- Project ownership
- Company support structure for questions and problem solving
- Weekly work commitment
- The ability to reach out to a higher echelon of support e.g. you
- Contact information, including emails, Skype accounts, phone numbers, etc.
Be as Transparent as Possible
Transparency is a necessity when streamlining remote working for your team. A transparent policy not only allows you to inform your team in an authentic way, it also enhances the quality and speed of decision making. Being as transparent as possible when it comes to your entire team, in office or remote, makes it easier for them to act autonomously. “No one wants to work for a company if they don’t know what it stands for and what its long-term plans are,” says Robert Craven of Entrepreneur.
Your teleworking team will certainly benefit from:
- Holding “state of the union” meetings. These are monthly teleconferences that can cover company goals, progress of the company, pending actions, recent changes, the financial state of things, and project updates, among other key aspects of your company.
- Turning conversations into mentoring moments. When you give remote team members access to the same information, it enhances synergy. Your remote team can learn from insightful questions, comments, and the expertise of other team members from transparent conversations. For example, if one of your teleworkers needs insight on a certain task or client project, you can make it a mentoring moment for the entire team. If you simply reply via email to only the team member who inquired about the task or project, only he or she benefits. However, if you copy the entire team, similar issues in the future may be solved without support.
Leverage Technology to Enhance Communication and Collaboration
Communication and collaboration with your team is possibly the most important aspect of streamlining remote work. Communication, however, can also be the biggest challenge. “While management communication always matters greatly, in the absence of direct in-person contact, and the potential for isolation and confusion that implies, it's critical that remote managers stay in frequent contact to ensure they know what's being worked on and the progress being made,” says Victor Lipman of Forbes.
Often the first step is setting clear standards of communication for remote teams. We discussed daily and weekly touch points for remote team management, but you can employ a few other strategies as well:
- Face-to-face time. Using videoconferencing tools like Google Hangout or WebEx are excellent ways to connect with your remote team with screen sharing capabilities too.
- Make weekly meetings social. MangoApps, Yammer, and IGLOO are stellar social networking platforms that allow for teleworking team communication and collaboration. These platforms are especially useful if videoconferencing is simply not possible.
Give your remote employees the tools, technology, and support to connect.
Building a workforce that surpasses your expectations could extend beyond your local talent pool. And that talent pool of the future wants to be mobile. However, your remote team’s success is a direct reflection of your management. Streamline remote working for your team and take your teleworking management to the next level. You may be surprised at how easy it is to maximize productivity and collaboration in and out of the office.