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Managing Remote Teams: Tips On Running A Virtual Office Efficiently

managing remote teams

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In the last couple of years, the world has witnessed the unimaginable. The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses across the globe and prevented employees from traveling to their workplaces. Organizations that were prepared for a global crisis suffered nonetheless. Remote work is the new norm, with businesses starting to operate from virtual offices and employees working from their new, makeshift home offices. Many business owners and managers are now struggling to maintain their remote teams and may continue to face such issues. Albeit, managing remote teams is a simpler task than it may seem to some businesses.

This is set to go even further with the rise of the metaverse — a full virtual reality working environment. 

It is clear that remote work is now a necessity for employers rather than an option. Business leaders and entrepreneurs need to adapt and find the best ways to manage remote teams. The task may look intimidating, especially to first-time managers or business owners who were not prepared for this sudden pause.

For some businesses, the customary remote-work strategies and tools may have worked. However, the sheer impact and unpredictability of this crisis requires businesses to find better strategies. A business must look for unconventional ways to manage remote teams and ensure seamless operations.

Remote Team

Remote Teaming Essentials

Build trust within your team

To build an effective remote working environment, it is important to make time for frequent, short activities with team members. By involving your team in regular activities, you’re able to subtly increase levels of trust among your workforce.

If you can build trust among new team members earlier in their working tenure, they are more likely to successfully transition into their roles and form effective partnerships with existing employees. 

Connect your team outside of meetings

Without a proper communication strategy, it is incredibly challenging to keep remote employees engaged. Therefore, it is vital that companies prioritize employee relations as a means of maintaining a cohesive workforce. 

Team members should be encouraged to connect with one another outside of meetings. Whilst traditional forms of communication like phone and email still have a place, modern tools that offer instant communication are more effective. 

Technological advances have simplified remote communication and team collaboration. Portfolio management tools allow teams to organize their workflow, and platforms like WhatsApp, Zoom, and Slack enable remote teams to engage with one another in real time, much like they would if working together physically 

Adequately plan and make the most of group meetings

Think about what things really call for a team meeting, and design those meetings so people can participate actively. Make sure that you’re prepared with adequate resources and technology, and that the meeting has a clear, ‘on-task’ agenda. It is essential that you have any materials and team updates planned before a meeting has commenced.

Think about what things really call for a team meeting. Because time is a such a valuable commodity, you don’t want to be conducting team meetings that offer little value to your company or your employees. 

To make remote work more efficient, these are the types of meetings you should consider:

  • An initial meeting where you discuss the processes and procedures that your remote teams will be using to communicate and work together. 
  • A regular meeting that has a clear, published agenda. ‘Regular’ is any ongoing time that best suits your company. An example could be weekly for customer facing teams, or fortnightly for administration teams. 
  • Optional, one-on-one meetings for team members. This provides an opportunity for team members to discuss certain things with managers, at a scheduled time. For employees that don’t need to discuss any matters, they know that you’re open to a meeting, should they require one in the future.  

Allocate appropriate time for meetings 

Don’t try to cram too much into one remote meeting. Take your time, chunk it up, and remember everything takes a little longer to do well when it’s remote. For every virtual meeting, it’s vital to have a plan beforehand. This means that team members know what to expect and how to best contribute to the conversation.

Placing a time limit on meetings can significantly boost your productivity and help to extract more value in the limited time that’s available. As an example, you can set the meeting duration to 45 minutes and assign 15 minutes to each of the agenda points. This helps participants to stay focused and reduces the likelihood that the meeting will go off track.

Listen to opposing points of view

Meetings offer a opportunity to hear opposing views in a professional setting. You should avoid rushing the group into agreement, simply because of time constraints.

Moderators must encourage problem-solving and opposing ideas. Unfortunately, too many meetings are conducted with a lack of outside thinking and idea-sharing. Instead, meetings should be an opportunity to hear different questions and ideas, beyond the standard meeting rhetoric. Furthermore, attendees should be open to discussions on important decisions; and refrain from being judgmental towards the viewpoints of others. 

Understand that ‘virtual’ is just as good as face-to-face

In truth, remote teams can be cohesive, thriving powerhouses, and virtual meetings can be productive and engaging. Virtual meetings allow team members to see and communicate with each other, in much the same way as a face-to-face meeting. This can be achieved without relying on on a set space, a common schedule, or even being in the same country.

Virtual meetings are ideal for professionals that may have a complicated schedule or many trips spread across their agenda. There are also considerable savings to be made in work time and travel costs. 

Virtual meetings are more agile, which allows employees to react more quickly to any unexpected changes. And in today’s business landscape – which moves at a rapid pace – speeding up processes has the potential to speed up results. 

Stop asking if “everyone agrees”

Instead, use effective tools and methods for exploring options and making decisions that everyone can commit to. 

Asking if “everyone agrees” is a problematic question. This is because many people confuse collaboration with consensus. Collaboration is about engaging team members and having them working and discussing ideas together. The best teams – and certainly the best workplaces – are collaborative. 

Workplaces should not be weighed down by consensus. Instead, team members must be encouraged to express their opinions authentically. There isn’t much to gain by having team members blindly agree to every idea that is raised. 

The most dynamic business leaders do not end meetings by asking if “everyone agrees”. A much more effective question to ask is: “Does everyone know what they need to do next?”

Read more about keeping your remote workers motivated at How to Keep Remote Workers Motivated and Engaged

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How PEOs Simplify Managing Remote Teams

For some companies, remote work may have become the new normal. However, for others, it may remain an ongoing pain point. The transition to a virtual office from a physical workspace may be a difficult task for both employers and employees. Thus, seeking the assistance of a PEO can help businesses to solve this issue.

Horizons’ Global PEO provides solutions that encompass HR integration, international payroll and benefits administration, global recruitment, and legal and tax compliance. We help businesses to effectively manage remote teams and virtually conduct their operations across domestic and international markets.

With our in-country experts located in major cities throughout the world, we facilitate your compliant expansion into overseas markets. By acting as your employees’ Employer of Record, you can quickly, compliantly, and cost-effectively begin trading in your new market, without the burden of establishing a local entity. This allows you to commence overseas operations in as little as 48 hours and has the potential to save you up to 85% in expansion costs.

Partnering with our Global PEO ensures all HR, recruitment, onboarding, and payroll is managed remotely by our specialist team.  

Contact Horizons today and discover how our Global PEO service simplifies your successful global expansion.

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