If managing individual employees is a challenge, leading entire teams is a bigger one and managing remote teams can be more difficult still. Although telecommuting can save you an average of roughly $11,000 per worker, compared to onsite employees, it also presents considerable management challenges. Even when a remote team works under the same roof, there’s still a viable risk that it can fall out of sync with your organization’s overall goals and direction.
Depending on the specific types of problems your organization faces (or wants to avoid), consider using the following tactics: company off-sites, regular face-to-face meetings, and public rewards and recognition. These are hardly the only tools at your disposal, but they’ll address some of the most common problems associated with managing remote teams.
Managing Remote Teams: Problems and Solutions
Your remote teams are valuable assets. Having teams spread across time zones can help you run a highly-responsive 24/7/365 operation. Depending on your location, having remote workers can help you save on labor costs, compared with basing everyone in countries or cities with high costs of living. Even if you’re paying for an onsite operation, having a spread out team can maximize your resources, enhance flexibility, and allow you to retain the best staff that fits in with your organizational culture. The list goes on; if you want to offer localized products or services, there’s little that can beat having local staff that can speak the language(s).
However, it takes structure, organization, transparent goals and operations, and above all, hard work to make the most of your remote staff. It can be tempting to give them their quarterly or annual goals and check in every three months or less. That temptation must be squashed and replaced with a mentality of geographic neutrality. Employees performing the same or similar tasks in different countries should get the same attention, management, direction, praise, merit-based rewards, and career opportunities as those based in the home country or city.
Problem: Focus on Short-Term Goals without Sense of Purpose
A set-and-forget management approach fails to connect an employee’s short-term goals with your organization’s long-term strategic objectives. A transparent approach of sharing strategy with the rank and file is a sign of trust—trust in those goals, and trust in your people’s ability to see the connection between their daily, metrics-driven routines and the milestones they’re helping achieve.
Solution: Connect Goals to Strategic Business Objectives
In addition to stating your remote teams’ goals early and often, tie those goals into your larger business objectives. If you want to know how to motivate your team, examine how well you lay out their goals and the purpose behind them. This is especially important for managing millennials in the workforce. They’re the largest working group by age, and in general, millennials like knowing that their work is making the world better. That’s hard to accomplish if they don’t know the why that drives their tasks, day-in and day-out.
Problem: Remote Workers Can Feel Disconnected from Teammates
This one’s easy to understand. Individual telecommuters can easily feel isolated. Even remote teams that work together under the same roof can feel like an afterthought if they’re not included in regular communication about decisions that affect them.
Solution: Regular Face-to-Face Meetings
Since video conferencing allows us to have high-quality real-time sound and picture between two points nearly anyplace worldwide, this is a no-brainer. Schedule and maintain regular face-to-face meetings with your remote teams. Everyone benefits: your remote workers feel included and like full-fledged contributors, while managers get to hear about remote teams’ challenges regularly enough to address them and prevent them from becoming chronic.
Problem: Low Employee Engagement
Disengaged employees are a worldwide plague, comprising 85% of all workers worldwide, according to Gallup. Employee engagement is a reliable indicator of performance or lack thereof. If you’re seeing more workplace zombies than you’d like, either at headquarters or within your remote teams, it’s time to do something about it.
Solution: Public Recognition
One proven way to increase employee engagement is through public recognition Those who are praised publicly will have a memento of the occasion, while their colleagues will be reminded that there are kudos to be earned—and that their teammates depend on their contributions. Employee recognition programs are more effective at getting people enthused about their work than cash bonuses. It’s one of the top ways to build a successful team.
Public recognition honors individual and team achievement. Praising workers in plain view sends strong signals of employee appreciation. Ownership and senior management should visibly recognize top performers so the whole company believes in the recognition that results from hard work. This is a great team-building tactic that’s especially important for remote teammates who don’t work at the same location.
Another tactic to help raise remote team engagement is to give branded items as reminders of the occasion and a tangible reflection of a job well done. Employees will feel appreciated and reminded that they are part of the organization every time they use their products.
At Inproma, we design employee recognition programs around the metrics-based goals that will help your organization reach its long-term strategic objectives. The programs are tailored specifically to achieve those results. Whether onsite or off, nearby or spread across the planet, your employees and teams will know their mission and understand what success looks like.
If you’re having trouble keeping your remote teams on the same page as the rest of your organization, we should talk. Regardless of geography, the right employee recognition program will increase employee engagement and establish a great winning team mentality.