Tips For Managing A Distributed Team

distributed team

Working as a remote or distributed team is now even more popular than ever before.


Distributed teams work in many ways fundamentally differently than do teams who are physically located in the same office. Without  the physical office and daily personal contact in place, there is a whole new array of challenges that managers of people must grapple with and resolve.  Leaders in distributed business have to develop the skills for managing people and processes from afar. 


As remote working becomes even more widespread, many teams and businesses have concluded that remote working will remain for them as the preferred work environment.


Here are some helpful tips to follow that can help with managing a distributed team:

distributed team 1

Have clear expectations 


Under a fully remote business model  all team members should be on board with this way of working.  This seems very simple but requires managers to consider a whole set of p[ossibilities in keeping the team dynamic flowing in a positive way.


Keep in mind that not every person will have the same level of experience when it comes to remote working. It is suggested that clear and fair expectations be  set with the whole team from the start. This will help manage expectations and allow teams to know exactly what they should do. 


The ideal outcome is to have a fully operational and productive workforce, and this starts with setting the correct foundation with all employees. 


Future misunderstanding and process blunders can be avoided by indicating clearly and in an easily accessible way what tools the team will use for what, where the policies and processes are documented for reference, what hours everyone is expected to be online, ongoing deliverable deadlines to adhere to, and  most important of all, how communication is handled within the company. 


Use the right online platforms


The right platforms are needed  to create a smoother and more efficient environment for better productivity and a more enjoyable work experience.


There are numerous productivity tools designed to guide teams to be more productive and increase communication. Video conferencing, chat apps, and project management tools are a great way to stay in constant communication with remote teams. These tools can also help with time management and keeping teams on track.


Take a look at Slack, ClickUp or Trello. There are also some good free project management platforms that many companies are making use of in 2021.


Engage in face-to-face interactions


By face-to-face, we mean using video conferencing as the preferred way of communication as it adds a physical element to team interactions. 


It is important to be clear with team members what their level of comfort is with “camera on” meetings.  Some people find them intrusive, and long video meetings can be tiring.  Unless everyone is enthusiastic for them, try to keep video team meetings shorter than you would a live meeting, and have a clear agenda for them.


This can provide employees with a sense of personal connection which might otherwise be lost through voice only calls and chat apps. 


You will want to work with a video-conferencing that makes sense for your business such as BlueJeans, Microsoft Teams or Zoom.

distributed team 2

Constant communication is key


Hosting regular one on one’s and team meetings will keep remote teams productive and engaged. 


Planning for team meetings early in the week can help teams to have set goals and deadlines, ensuring productivity to achieve what has been set out. 


Thursday or Friday would be a good time to host “wrap-up” meetings to discuss any outstanding work, achievements or resolve difficulties, and plan for the upcoming week.


One-on-one meetings play an integral role in making distributed team members feel appreciated as individuals. This also gives them the opportunity to bring up any questions, problems, or suggestions they might feel are useful and would not feel comfortable bringing up in team meetings.

Over – communicate goals to keep remote employees focused


Over communication of individual goals and tasks is a great way to ensure that distributed team members are focused on the right things. 


Use project management tools to encourage and help them to understand each stage of the project. This will also help them to know when their deadlines are that need to be met. 


This creates an environment where as long as the work is done well and on time it doesn’t matter how or when this was achieved. Focusing on the results is the best way to measure employee performance, rather than being focused on tracking work hours.


By trusting the teams and letting them have some freedom to complete their tasks in a timely manner, creates result-oriented habits and customs.


Remote team building


Find ways for teams to bond and engage outside of regular team meetings. This makes it more likely for employees to have voluntary conversations, connect with one another, and feel like they are part of something bigger as a team. 


This could be anything from book clubs, to virtual game nights, or even virtual happy hours—for your team to interact and catch up. Think outside the box and take a look at these best online team games for 2021 as inspiration.


Hosting an in-person team building event once a year would have great benefits and encourage better working relationships. The benefits of having team members connect face to face would far outweigh the costs involved.


The world of working looks quite different today than it did a few years back. Working remotely and with a distributed team model should offer up more benefits than challenges.

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