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Managing a Remote Team? These 14 Remote Management Tips from Fourlane Leaders will Make it Easier

Remote working is on the rise and starting to become more of a job norm than an outlier. According to OWL Labs’ 2019 State of Remote Work Report, “54% of U.S. workers work remotely at least once per month, 48% work remotely at least once per week, and 30% work remotely full-time”. Fortunately, many companies are already set up to accommodate remote workers from a tools and technology perspective – so they can easily get their work done without too much trouble. However, the people part of remote working, especially the management of a distributed team, can be a bit daunting to navigate for even the most skilled leader.

Fourlane has been a fully remote company since it was started in 2008. It’s a perk that we, as employees, enjoy immensely (especially since we don’t have to deal with long commutes, toll roads, and constantly filling our gas tanks); but it also benefits our bottom line in terms of overhead and operations. In order to make this model work, though, we invest in training and tools for our employees to ensure they’re as effective as possible – especially for those who manage teams dispersed across the country.

A few of our team leaders have put together their best tips for managing a remote team, whether you’re temporarily working from home or have just transitioned to a fully remote role or company:

Communication Tips

Overcommunicate, especially in times of crisis or uncertainty.” Ben Montgomery, Sales Manager

“Choose wisely when selecting your communication method, and interactive is most effective. Interactive forms include Phone Calls, Video Conferences, Slack; I especially like video conferences especially with team members, but it is also fun with clients.” Kat Roskovics, Partner

“When communicating via text, be very clear in your message. Without tone or body language to help, things can easily be misconstrued.” Ben

Don’t be afraid to use video and encourage webcam usage for meetings. It’s one thing to listen to someone talk on the other end of the line, but it’s a whole different experience to see their face and actually engage in conversation with them. It helps everyone on the team feel like they’re part of the meeting, rather than just listening in.” Kari Foster, Director of Marketing

Productivity Tips

Keep running lists for people that you have action items with. Come across a non-urgent question on a project? Jot it down to ask during your next project review meeting if it can wait until then. When you work in a typical work environment, you see people walking in the halls, at their cubicle across the way, and that is your reminder; but in a remote environment, you don’t have that luxury.” Kat

“Trust, and check data. No one wants to feel like you don’t trust them, so pick KPIs you can quickly look at to watch productivity.” Ben

“Have staff keep assignments in time blocks on their calendars and make sure they are able to view and share. This will allow the manager to keep track of assignments, as well as give team members the ability to lean on other members for help.” Trisha Thomas, Jr. Partner

Hold weekly project timeline reviews for project management and keeping in sync with staff and client schedules.” Cynthia Hemingway, CFO

Keep meetings structured and enforce that structure, especially if you have more than a few people on your team. Team meetings can easily go off the rails if you don’t stick to an agenda or structure to keep it moving along.” Kari

Management Tips

Have ‘open office hours’ time available on our calendars as Management, so staff can book time at least twice weekly if they just need to vent/unload/update on their life, etc.” Cynthia

Have 15-minute team check-ins each morning – this allows you to get a feel for how everyone is doing and to hand out assignments.” Trisha

Share client stories in some manner so that everyone understands we are all working together (humor is important).” Cynthia

Be open to suggestions. If remote is new to you and your company, the people doing the work will know what needs improvement. Listen to them, and test. You can always change course later.” Ben

“Encourage ‘water cooler’-type talk. It can be isolating when you work from home, especially for those that live alone. Genuinely connect with colleagues by encouraging them to engage in small talk. What did you do this weekend? How’s that home improvement project coming along? If something important is happening in their life, jot it down so you can ask them about it another time.” Kat

What tips do you have for managing a remote team? Why not share them on social media with the hashtag #remoteworktips to help others out!

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