Managing Remote Teams: 8 Effective Strategies For Genuine Success
Remote working is a hot topic for many businesses and understanding how to implement it effectively could be essential for the future of your business. This week, Fintan Murphy discusses eight strategies that you can use for managing remote teams using Google Workspace.
Damson Cloud has spent the last decade working remotely and we are here to advocate why you should continue to facilitate remote working for your teams. Many of us have had to work remotely for the last year due to the pandemic. This has provided us with some interesting statistics on people’s response to the option of remote working. A recent McKinsey study has shown that 75% of employees felt that they were able to maintain or improve their productivity.
Before the pandemic, many businesses never even considered remote working. When forced into this new style of operation, they found that there were many unexpected positives and, most importantly, with new technology it was entirely possible. Another study found that 97% of employees didn’t want a full return to the office, they wanted some sort of hybrid environment or a fully remote solution for their careers. It is hard to deny that remote working is here to stay, in one form or another.
Most businesses are settling on hybrid solutions – some part of the week in the office and the other part at home. With this form of work comes new challenges and the strategies included here could drastically improve your company’s workflow, productivity and job satisfaction. It can even contribute to higher job retention and lower costs.
The Benefits of Remote Working
- Remote working has been shown to increase productivity. Most people have found that they have been more productive with better time management and fewer distractions. Being away from the office and not having long commutes also allows for more flexibility and more focus when working.
- Many people have found remote working has increased their job satisfaction. They find work less stressful and have found it easier to craft a better work/life balance. People are now focusing on creating a healthy work/life balance for themselves, and companies allowing their staff to work remotely aids them in this pursuit.
Supporting Your Staff When Working Remotely
Providing your staff with physical support to aid their working is critical to ensure that they perform to the best of their abilities.
This can be done by providing staff with items like desks, additional screens, laptop stands, and other equipment that can make their lives, and their roles, easier. It is important for companies to remember that they are responsible for people who work for them, even if these staff members are not in your office. If they are working remotely, physically resourcing them is critical as well as providing digital resources.
Digital Resources and Strategies for Managing Remote Teams
Resourcing staff digitally can help teams be more productive when they are working. Using solutions like Google Workspace help make this easier and provide you with a wide range of tools to ensure that work can operate smoothly. Below are eight strategies that Damson Cloud recommends to ensure that you can manage your remote team.
1. Establish Active Communication with Google Meet
Active communication is integral for teams that are either working remotely or in a hybrid setting. For small to medium businesses, taking time to check in twice a week through video conferencing software like Google Meet or in-person helps keep track of projects and also ensures that your team is managing the workload properly and keeping up to speed with tasks.
- If you are operating a hybrid working scenario, it is important that staff who are working remotely have the ability to join meetings. Video conferencing is going to become ever more important to connect with people in the office and at home. Having functional Google Meet calls to facilitate discussion and collaboration is crucial for every business.
- A great way of engaging your team is by asking them about their intended plans for the coming week. This allows your employees to define goals and set expectations for the team.
- While professionalism and work-related conversations are the most important part of inter-team communication, allowing time for general chat is also incredibly important. It creates a community which people will be craving, particularly if they are working remotely.
2. Synchronous and Asynchronous Collaboration
Another great strategy we recommend is understanding and utilising synchronous and asynchronous collaboration carefully. Synchronous collaboration is collaboration that is happening in real-time. This could be a phone or video call, or it could even be working on the same document at the same time. Asynchronous collaboration is collaboration with a time delay. This could be emailing a document to someone or working on a shared document in Google Docs at different times.
Real-time Google Meet sessions and interactions of this nature are synchronous collaboration. However, when working remotely, it is very easy to become fatigued by consistent video calling.
Companies that work remotely regularly have found that there has to be a careful balance between synchronous and asynchronous collaboration.
Employees could be in a time zone that is not easily synchronized with, or they need greater flexibility in their remote working environment, and therefore often need to use asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous Communication Finding this balance can be tricky but it can be achieved with planning. For example, if you are planning a project, your team could be working on a shared Google Document as part of the brainstorming process but working on it at different times.
When the team meeting comes along, they are able to present a solution, not a problem and will feel like things are moving forward rather than having a meeting for the sake of having one.
3. Passive Communication with Google Calendar
Passive communication is a technique that must be used to avoid the ‘Big Brother’ effect. There are a host of technology solutions that can photograph your screen, record conversations, and generally micromanage employees through monitoring. Though this can sometimes be necessary for a particular situation, at Damson we have realised that this style of management is often overbearing and can lead to employee distrust and general evasive behaviour.
Trust and Independence
For knowledge workers, a further level of trust and independence needs to be in place in order to run your team smoothly and we call this method of work management “Passive Communication”.
At Damson Cloud, our team fills in their Google Calendar to let us know what they have done by the end of the day and they fill in what they hope to get done the next day. It allows managers to glance at it without having to constantly check in to see what people are doing or working on.
4. Task-Based Approach with Google Tasks or Todoist
As previously specified with remote workers, plenty of people are operating in different time zones or are available at different times. This is one of the many benefits of remote working.
It is therefore a much more efficient way of working to employ a task-based, rather than a time-based approach. In other words, you will be judged on the work you are getting done rather than the time you are available.
- When this approach is used, it becomes very obvious who is doing work and who isn’t. Setting realistic goals for projects and putting tasks in place give direction for your team and also ensure that check-in meetings are simply about the task’s progress.
- A tool that Damson Cloud recommends and uses is Google Tasks. These tools are becoming more and more integrated into the Google Workspace interface and now include features like the ability to add tasks within meeting rooms in Google Chat
- Todoist is another tool we’ve started to use recently and it’s fantastic. It integrates well with Google and you can even forward an email into the software and it creates tasks from the emails. You can then forward this to the team Todoist streams and all team members can see what tasks they are working on and what others are working on too.
5. Be Available for Your Team During Working Hours
Being available when your team is working remotely is crucial. If you were in the office, they would be able to drop in very quickly and check-in or ask questions. Often using email to communicate is far too slow for the modern working environment so using a form of instant or chat communication is the best way of combating this issue.
- At Damson our team uses Google chats as a means of communication. It’s a quick and easy way to communicate with one another and you can now set up ‘Rooms’ within chats to allow for people to split into different spaces or projects. You could have a room per department as well to encourage collaboration. Google also lets you add tasks to ‘Rooms’ which is another valuable feature.
Being available on instant messaging is a great way to help your team feel valued and involved in the company when working remotely.
Shared drives such as Google Drives can be accessed from phones, laptops, or desktops using Google which is an incredible resource that other methods of data storage simply cannot offer.
- Making sure documentation is accessible for sharing and collaboration is really important when you have a remote working environment. We have seen certain companies using old technology like VPNs when they could simply use Shared
Drives to easily store and access documents and other information. This ubiquitous access is essential for helping your team increase productivity and workflow efficiency.
7. Facilitating Online Collaboration
This is valuable if you have a fully or partially remote team. This allows everyone to give their input into a shared space and contribute new material and ideas. We recommend tools like Jamboard.
- Online collaboration is incredibly important when teams are remote. Jamboard is both a physical whiteboard and a free piece of software that Google offers where you can set up a ‘jam’. This can be done on jamboard.google.com where you can collaborate on an interactive whiteboard in a video call. This will allow your team to collaborate on a whiteboard despite being in separate locations.
8. Employee Engagement
Employee engagement is something that Damson Cloud will be focusing on in 2021. It will be the single most important area for companies that are planning to work in a hybrid working environment. Tools that help with employee engagement are going to be really important.
Tools that we would recommend are social intranets like Happeo that simplify processes, streamline workflows, engage staff, and promote collaboration. They give you a central place to store your documentation, policies, and interactivity with your teams. It helps to announce and distribute information as well.
It also allows you to see if people have read the content you have sent as well, putting managers at ease that people have interacted with what you needed them to engage with.
It will be key for companies to have an intranet space to allow for teams and companies to feel connected.
If you liked this topic, you might like to check out Is Working From Home The New Normal?
As a longstanding member of the Google Cloud Partner Program, Damson Cloud specialises in bringing people and ideas together through new ways of working. We champion change management and digital transformation using some of the internet’s most trusted solutions, including Google Workspace, Happeo and Jamboard. To find out more about our services, check out our library of tutorial videos or our blog.