Anyone who has ever pursued a long distance relationship for any period of time will tell you that it’s challenging but can ultimately be a wonderful experience when done right. The same is true in the workplace. With more and more companies allowing staff to work from home and building offshore teams, the new challenge for managers is how to adapt their processes to cater to remote staff.
Outsourcing has become an essential strategy for businesses of all sizes, however, in order to get the most out of it, you must first learn how to manage your remote teams effectively. Unfortunately, some business owners never address the different strategies needed for managing remote staff and subsequently give up on outsourcing without ever reaping the many benefits it offers. By incorporating the following best practices for managing remote workers, you will be giving your business every chance to succeed and flourish with outsourced staff.
The saying “out of sight, out of mind” shouldn’t apply to managing remote teams. Checking in on your team regularly is necessary. Try to set a schedule for your virtual meetings so they become a regular part of your process and not just something you do when you remember to. It can be as simple as short daily catch-ups, just to get updates on what everyone is working on. It’s ideal to share your own project at hand as well. Also, make sure that you stay online as much as possible so they can easily reach you whenever needed.
Prioritise video conferencing
Sending an email or message might be the quickest way to communicate with your team, but it isn’t always the most effective option. It’s much easier for your staff to clearly understand what you need when they can see and hear from you. Emails are great for follow-ups, but when introducing new information, a video call should be your go-to option. There are many great platforms available. Zoom and Google hangouts are well-suited for group meetings, while Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are great for one-on-one video catch ups.
Set clear expectations
Don’t let your staff do projects blindly. Assigning a task doesn’t end with a simple “Do this,” or “Do that.” In order for your remote team to accomplish tasks the way you want them to, you should clearly give them all of the necessary information. In addition, always give your staff a precise and realistic deadline. ‘As soon as possible’ or ‘whenever you can’ is perhaps not the most effective deadline. You might end up either with a mediocre result if it is rushed or it might lead to having delayed projects because they thought you don’t need it that soon. Put simply, you can’t expect a great result from vague instructions.
Get them involved
Help remote staff feel that they truly belong to the wider organisation. Remote teams might sometimes feel that they are just ‘extras’ and an insignificant part of the company. To avoid this, encourage them to contribute their ideas. Let them know that they do have a voice in your company, and make sure that you listen. Involving your remote teams in planning meetings and providing them with updates improves their morale and it can substantially boost their productivity.
Although regular communication is essential, watching everything they do can sometimes bring more harm than good. Micromanaging your offshore team is not advisable, as it may imply that you don’t trust them. The key is to focus on results, not on activities. Allow them to manage their own time. By all means, step in if there is a problem, but just remember that you hired them because you believed that they had the capacity to perform their tasks well. If you’re prone to micromanagement, try to take a step back and trust your staff to deliver.
Have your staff done a great job? Or is there something that’s not quite right with their recent output? Don’t keep your comments to yourself. Let your staff know what you think about their work. Praising your staff for a job well done can motivate them to keep it up, while carefully explaining which parts of a project needs improvement persuades them to do it better next time.
Managing offshore teams might require a little extra effort, but once you’ve discovered the right approach, you’ll realise that it’s not as hard as you think. Even though they are not physically present in your office, remote staff are a significant part of your company and with the right management, they can become some of your best assets.