Building a Remote Team: Challenges and Solutions
We all know and may even be part of remote work policies. Despite the perks it offers, some still argue that they can hinder collaboration and productivity. Critics of remote work policies argue that building and managing a remote team can be difficult. They pose a challenge to a consistent team and work culture since employees are not physically available in the office.
However, several reports have shown that hiring managers have seen an increase in remote workers’ productivity. It is no surprise that by 2025, an estimated 36.2 million workers are expected to be fully remote. So, you can take the risk and build a remote team. Additionally, with the right management strategies in place, it is possible to maintain quality workforce unity and work standards.
But of course, it is important to acknowledge that remote work is not suitable for every role or company. Some jobs require employees to be physically present, and some companies may prefer a more traditional office-based environment. However, for many businesses, remote work policies can provide numerous benefits, including increased productivity and improved work-life balance for employees. By acknowledging the potential challenges and implementing effective management strategies, companies can successfully navigate the transition to a remote workforce.
In this article, we will explore some of the most common challenges faced by managers of remote employees and provide practical solutions to help you lead a successful workforce.
Significant impact on quality supervision by managers
One of the biggest challenges managers face when managing remote teams is the lack of physical proximity. This leads to concerns about employees’ efficiency and productivity as compared to their in-office counterparts. At the same time, remote workers struggle to reach out for help and support from their managers due to restrictive communication and limited supervision. As they feel a sense of disconnection, it can have a negative impact on employee morale.
But, there are ways to overcome such hindrances to effective remote workflow. One most suggested solutions is to establish clear project milestones with dedicated timeframes or deadlines. This allows for ongoing discussions about the project’s progress and potential obstacles and ensures that managers stay in touch with their team.
Coordinating proper schedules for remote workers
Before you build a remote team, there must be plans and strategies for proper schedule coordination. Since your remote team will be working from diverse locations, there will be problems like time-zone differences. This will lead to difficulty in coordinating meetings, training sessions, and even having a simple conversation, as everyone’s schedules don’t match up.
Luckily, there are resolutions to this scheduling headache.
- You can create comprehensive resources that team members can access to find solutions to common issues. This enables them to operate independently.
- Take advantage of collaboration tools for easy communication and task management between team members.
- Record and share important meetings for those who could not attend. This will allow everyone to stay in the loop regardless of geographical and time differences.
Inconsistent communication due to unidentified gaps
Effective communication is crucial for the success of a remote team. However, communication gaps and inconsistencies are common challenges faced by remote teams. These gaps can arise due to the usage of virtual tools, which often result in misunderstandings, missed messages, misinterpretations, and cultural barriers. To build a remote team that can effectively communicate despite these challenges requires a clear understanding of the tools being used and the cultural differences that may exist within the team.
To overcome these, the following solutions can be implemented.;
- Adopt empathetic communication by being careful with your tone in emails and messages to combat the risk of digital miscommunication.
- Schedule regular one-on-one video meetings to ensure that you’re on the same track with your team members and address their concerns.
- Choose a central communication hub to facilitate general updates and interpersonal communication.
- Set clear communication expectations, including how, when, and whom to update and which tools to use, to avoid any confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page.
Maintaining workforce unity and a consistent work culture
We all know how challenging it can be to create and maintain a positive company culture when your team is scattered. Traditional approaches to building team unity, such as in-person events and perks, may not be feasible anymore. But don’t worry- with the right management support, you can create a warm and inclusive environment for your remote workers. Remote work can feel isolating at times. That’s why it’s crucial to intentionally foster a sense of connection and collaboration among your team members.
Here are some creative ideas;
- Highlighting your team members’ achievements in public can help connect them. By sharing everyone’s accomplishments, you’re making them feel appreciated and included, which can motivate them to work harder and excel.
- Video conferencing can be an excellent way to connect with your team members, feel like you’re in the same room, and enrich professional relationships in productive ways.
- Providing regular updates on everyone’s progress, company goals, and other important group announcements can unify team members through a shared sense of purpose.
Potential mental and physical health concerns
Another concern on our lists for remote employees is the lack of social interaction, which can have a negative impact on both their mental and physical health. This can lead to feelings of isolation, anxiety, and even depression, affecting their productivity and job satisfaction.
But the good news is that there are ways to address these challenges.
- Plan regular virtual interactions, such as team meetings or coffee breaks, where team members can interact and connect with each other.
- Create fun chat channels where remote workers can share their interests or hobbies, building a sense of camaraderie beyond just work.
When you make an effort to build a remote team with social connections, they can feel more supported and included, leading to better mental and physical health and, ultimately, improved productivity and retention rates.
Creation of a balanced trust and accountable workforce
It is understandable for managers to worry about their team members’ productivity while also balancing trust and accountability. Even then, micromanaging the remote workers is not the way to go. Constantly checking in on them can actually decrease productivity and lead to resentment. Instead, focus on providing clear expectations and guidelines for your team. Make sure they have the resources they need to do their job effectively and trust that they will get the work done on time.
Establish regular check-ins to ensure that your remote team members are engaged and productive. During these check-ins, you can touch base on what’s been accomplished, what’s in progress, and any roadblocks or challenges that need to be addressed. This ensures that work is progressing as planned. Another key factor in managing a remote team is fostering a sense of community. This can be tricky when everyone is working from different locations, but it’s important for team morale and engagement. Consider scheduling virtual team-building activities or even just casual virtual hangouts. This helps build relationships and creates a sense of belonging, which can translate into increased productivity and better work outcomes.
Hurdles to employee productivity
The next biggest challenge of remote team management is productivity, which means ensuring that everyone is working towards the same goals. This is where key performance indicators and metrics come in. These help managers measure the teams’ progress toward specific goals, which is especially necessary in a remote work environment where you cannot physically observe them.
Additionally, provide the employees with the necessary tools and resources. By investing in your teams’ success, you will be showing them that you are committed to their growth and development.
Overall, to build a remote team and its successful transition to a remote work environment can be tough. So, as a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure and provide them with the necessary resources, structure, and assistance to ensure success despite working remotely.