7 practices for success with remote team management

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 29 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many businesses have switched from office working to remote working. While working from home can offer many benefits to team members and managers alike, it can also present challenges. If you're managing a remote team, it's important to understand the different practices that can help you lead your team to success and ensure their productivity. In this article, we discuss what remote team management is, the challenges team managers can face and seven practices that can help you and your team succeed while working remotely.

What is remote team management?

Remote team management involves mentoring and leading team members who work predominantly from home and who may never meet in person. All communication within the team happens virtually through online calls, emails and messages. Depending on how the company operates, managers might have a mixture of remote and office-based staff.

A manager of a remote team performs all the same duties as an in-person manager, using technology and communications tools to facilitate their work. To succeed as a remote team manager, it's important that leaders trust their team members to complete tasks without full supervision and communicate effectively despite the physical distance.

Related: Q&A: What is remote work?

What are the challenges in managing a remote team?

Overseeing a team of remote employees comes with a set of unique challenges. Because all team members work from their own homes, communication between coworkers can feel fragmented and sparse. If teams don't communicate effectively, it can lead to misunderstandings and confusion. It can also be difficult for managers to know whether their team members are being productive throughout the day, as they can't physically monitor their work.

One of the biggest challenges facing remote teamwork is the possibility of isolation. Working in an office can encourage free-flowing conversations and discussion, but when individuals work from home, there's less opportunity for conversation, which can be one of the biggest managerial challenges to overcome. Managers may also face technological issues, which can reduce productivity throughout the day.

Related: Everything you should know about working from home

7 remote team management practices

If you're managing a remote team, here are some practices that can help you and your colleagues to succeed while working from home and overcome the challenges outlined above:

1. Ensure regular communication

Effective communication is one of the biggest challenges that managers face while looking after a remote team. When colleagues are working together in person, it can be much easier to facilitate conversations, hold meetings and ensure that everyone understands their roles. When working remotely, it can be more difficult to facilitate regular communication, as team members may be working on different schedules or in different time zones.

To overcome this issue, managers may want to practise regular communication with every team member to ensure that there's no miscommunication. For example, managers may want to begin the day by holding a brief group meeting to update all participants on new developments. Throughout the week, managers may also want to hold one-on-one meetings with their coworkers to discuss new business, check on their well-being and ensure their productivity.

Related: Genuine work-from-home jobs: salaries and responsibilities

2. Help new team members feel supported

Working from home can be especially complex for new team members and it can be easy to overlook their requirements while working remotely. To ensure that new members feel supported while they transition into their new role, managers can set up team meetings to introduce new colleagues and encourage these new members to set up one-on-one calls with other team members to make their acquaintance.

During the first months of their career, managers may want to hold individual meetings with new team members more frequently to ensure that they understand their role, are managing their workload and if they have any questions about their position. All of these forms of remote communication can help new team members to feel supported and heard while working from home.

Related: 10 good manager qualities that help teams succeed

3. Clearly define roles and responsibilities

When working remotely, it's much easier for responsibilities to become muddled and confused. For example, if communication is ineffective, two team members may end up working on the same task at the same time, which could harm productivity. As a manager, it's important to clearly define roles and responsibilities so that your team complete all tasks on time and there are no mistakes. By successfully designating tasks, it can also help to ensure that everyone knows who to turn to if they have a specific problem or question.

4. Set meetings to suit all working patterns

Finding time when everyone is online and available can be difficult when team members work across different time zones. It's important that managers work closely with team members to ensure that meetings and other important communications fit within everyone's schedule. To overcome issues related to working in different time zones, ask all of your team members to give specific times where they're available for calls and then create a schedule that suits everyone as much as possible.

Another practice that can help to ensure the success of your remote team is to regularly switch up the way you communicate. A mixture of informal catch-ups and more focused time provides opportunities for both team building during downtime and to share ideas, updates or issues and tackle them together.

Related: 12 manager weaknesses to recognise and change (with steps)

5. Maintain productivity

It can be difficult for managers to see how productive their team members are working when they cannot monitor their actions throughout the day. Fortunately, there are some practices you can implement to help ensure the productivity of your team. A routine is one easy way that you can help to maintain productivity levels. By setting a routine, such as holding different meetings on specific days, your team members can better prepare themselves for the upcoming week. This preparation can help them to create effective schedules to keep on top of their deadlines and work.

6. Encourage regular breaks

Although working from home offers a huge amount of flexibility, many remote employees struggle to find an effective balance between work and home life. Because there's no physical barrier between the office and home, coworkers can struggle to separate the two, working longer hours than usual as a result. This can lead to burnout and stress, so it's important that managers put practices in place to overcome this issue.

One practice that can help to ensure success is to encourage regular breaks. Although you might think that regular breaks might harm productivity, taking time to relax can actually boost it. Encouraging team members to take proper lunch breaks away from their screens plus standing up and moving around regularly can ensure that coworkers don't overwork. This helps ensure that they're working to full capacity and don't feel too stressed throughout the day.

7. Trust your team members

When working remotely, it can be difficult as a manager to know when your team members are working and you may be wondering how productive they're being when faced with all the distractions that remote work can bring. Although you can't keep an eye on your colleagues at all times while they work from home, it's important to trust them.

Employees may feel annoyed if you act as though you don't think they're working properly while they're at home. One of the most important practices when working remotely is trusting your team, regardless of the physical barriers between you. Make sure that you allow your team members to have full ownership of the work they complete. It's imperative that you treat your remote team members the same way you would treat office staff and that you trust them to maintain a professional attitude while at work.

Tips for successful team management

Here are some tips and tricks that you can use to help successfully run a remote team:

  • Give regular positive feedback: When working remotely, it's easy to feel isolated. To help overcome this, make sure that you give regular positive and constructive feedback to your colleagues, which can help them feel included and supported during the working day.

  • Be understanding: Working from home presents a variety of challenges. If your colleagues ask to stop work abruptly to look after their children or the internet goes down, make sure that you're understanding and kind with how you treat these disruptions.

  • Treat everyone the same: If you're in a unique position where you work with both remote employees and office-based staff, it's important that you treat all of your team members the same regardless of their location.

Related:

  • 11 Management Challenges and How To Overcome Them


Explore more articles