Gone are the times when offices were all about bricks and walls, and to watch your employees, you had to run from pillar to post.

With the advancement of technology, work is no longer confined to a room full of people limited to their desks. Remote working is a new normal, but as cool as it sounds, the culture does pose specific challenges!

So, to help you walk through this reality without scratching your feet, Orgzit has enlisted top communication mistakes companies make, and a list of best practices for managing remote teams.

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8 Communication Mistakes managers make while managing a remote team

1. There is always a delay in Communication

The problem of delayed communication usually affects the teams that are operating in different time zones. If the team difference is a couple of hours, it can be easily overcome, but anything more than 5 hours is an issue.

How to solve the issue?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

Don’t make your employees compromise a lot. Once in a while is okay, but expecting them to be available late night or early morning on a usual basis is not acceptable. Try to settle a midway schedule. Don’t have meetings daily. Remote working requires the whole team to collaborate and not one person making too many compromises.

2. Tagging your Colleagues unnecessarily @all the time

Do you remember that individual who uses @all for every little thing that they want to share? This tag is equivalent to standing up in the middle of the office and making an announcement. Capturing the entire team’s attention with these @all tags may harm productivity levels massively.

So, how to deal with this problem?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • The @all tags scream actual urgency, so don’t use it often. Else, when there is a real emergency, it will be brushed off like other notifications.
  • Try productively tagging your colleagues; consider having a separate chat channel, especially for major announcements.

3. Not analyzing Team’s Body Language

Managing remote teams with digital communication tools is easier, but the story doesn’t end here. Keeping things strictly digital or textual doesn’t make your communication effective. CEO of global consulting firm Cotential, Chief Talent Scientist of ManpowerGroup, and a psychology professor of Columbia University in an article wrote-

“One of the most crucial things missed from emails, conference calls, texts, and other such digital communications is Body Language. The tone of a message or an email is wide open to interpretation, and that to a point where even the closest buddies get bewildered. These misinterpretations are the reason behind anxiety, low morale, and low productivity of employees.”

Not analyzing Team’s Body Language

So what’s the solution?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • For successful remote team management, you need to communicate freely. In this, digital communications tools can be essential but not entirely convenient.
  • Leverage face-to-face communication techniques for understanding the team’s behaviour.
  • Use slack, and other such video calling applications and schedule weekly face-to-face meetings with your teammates. This way, it is easier to figure out what is going on with them.

4. Exhausting the team with too much work & meetings

As per Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2019, few of the major remote working struggles are loneliness, unplugging, communication, and exhaustion. It is often found that, in remote working, people tend to work more, skip the usual breaks, and experience exhaustion.

As per a recent survey, 35% of people have claimed that their mental health has worsened.

Imagine a situation where you get up from the computer to grab a bite or stretch your legs and your boss calls! What will you do? You would skip the “Me-Time” and start working without pause. Such things happen to remote workers often, and it overall creates a wrong impression of this culture.

Now, What to do?

Also, Read: What are 3 important skills for Teamwork and Collaboration?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • Encourage your team members to have short breaks during working hours.
  • Don’t expect your team to be available “Round the Clock.”
  • Please don’t send them work-related texts during off-hours.
  • Help them in relieving anxiety and stress by paying for apps like Headspace or Calm.
  • Give them free access to online or in-person therapies.

Employ these tips and tricks, and their productivity will significantly improve afterward.

5. Micromanaging is Usual

Don’t expect your team to respond to every mail of yours within 10 minutes or be okay with unmet deadlines at times. Checking out your team once in a while and being too bossy every time are entirely different things. Many companies assume remote working to be a luxury, and they push their employees to report them every minute. The whole concept invites toxicity and a lack of freedom in the atmosphere.

How to solve the problem?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • It’s okay to set your expectations in the beginning, but give your employees some space to breathe.
  • Don’t be upset when you don’t receive immediate responses.
  • An occasional call or meeting is alright, but expecting them to be available 24/7 is a big No-No.
  • Have faith in your employees, and don’t be the annoying manager who sticks his nose everywhere.

6. Hiring people who are unfit for Remote Working

Hiring people with no or little remote working experience may or may not be fruitful. Imagine a situation where the employee doesn’t have the self-discipline to sit down and work remotely. Or maybe an individual needs constant social interaction, and they feel comfortable only in the traditional office atmosphere. Anyone with these traits is never a good-fit.

Hiring people who are unfit for Remote Working

So what to do?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • Hire people who have either experience in remote working or exhibit traits that suit this new environment.
  • The best kind of people who can fit into such a culture is freelancers or people that run their projects.
  • Remote team management is not an easy task; don’t just hire anyone. People who have demonstrated that they can match these unique circumstances should be only employed.

7. Forgetting to analyze employees performance

Criticism and lack of appreciation are two significant reasons why employees leave the job they love to do. Not recognizing your teammates for their time and efforts is the best way to show them the door. During remote culture, the absence of appreciation has only increased, because employees are no longer available in the office premises.

Forgetting to analyze employees performance

So what is to be done?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • Provide regular feedback to everyone who is associated with your organization, be it in house or freelance. This recognition will help in addressing the areas that require improvement.
  • Monthly or quarterly reviews will help the employees to maintain work quality.
  • During this work from home environment, conduct a video conference with your team detailing their positives and negatives.
  • Don’t forget to appreciate extra efforts and qualitative work, as this is the key to a happy culture.
  • Remember, the small steps taken today produce incredible results for tomorrow.

8. Not using the right technology

Wrong communication tools or the lack of proper technology usage sometimes hamper work speed massively. Let’s assume there is an important message to be delivered instantly and you are using the mail to convey the same, would it be justified?

What is the solution now?

Best Practices for Managing a Remote Team

  • Your team needs tools apart from file sharing, project management, etc.
  • You can employ Slack or Skype for conversing in real-time.
  • Give them access to a feature-rich task management software for staying updated about all the work-related information in real-time.

Not Everyone is a Remote Worker!

No matter what the hundreds of articles and industry people claim, remote working is not for everyone! And if anyone in your team does not fit the scene, don’t forget to reconsider their presence. But yes, if you’re stuck somewhere in the middle, where work from home is working normal, but not fantastic, dive into all the pointers mentioned above. I am sure, once you’re done finishing the read – you will have a 360-degree outlook of the situation (just as you have now!!).

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