With remote teams becoming more common, working remotely is also becoming a wish or even a requirement for many people. However, just offering your current and future employees the opportunity to work remotely is not enough to keep them happy, satisfied, and loyal. To ensure your remote team is content and productive, you need to manage them effectively.
But how exactly do you manage a remote team effectively? One of the most important aspects of remote work is proper communication. But many managers, especially those managing a remote team for the first time, make some common mistakes in their communication. And if something as important as proper communication is wrong, the consequences can be brutal.
To better understand how to properly communicate in a remote work setting, you first need to know some of the common communication mistakes which you should avoid.
Trying to Multitask
Have you ever talked to someone on the phone and heard the sound of their keyboard in the background? How did that make you feel? You were probably disappointed because the person on the other side of the line was not paying attention to what you were talking about. You may also think that you were interrupting them in their work or that you are simply not their priority.
Since they are multitasking, they probably won’t be able to concentrate on what you are saying to them or they’ll be distracted from their work.
To avoid this, you can do one of the following: either stop what you are doing and answer the phone or tell the person calling you to give you some time to finish what you are doing. Only then will you be able to give them your complete attention.
Not Preventing Disruptions
If you are working from your home and you have kids, schedule your calls and meetings at times when they are asleep or away from home. This will save you precious time since you won’t have to deal with them barging in the middle of your meeting.
Similarly, if you have pets at your home, they should be away from you when you have to take a call or attend a meeting.
This should also be a general remote work rule, not just your communication. When working remotely, make sure you organize your work so that nothing is distracting you from doing your job. If you cannot, think about introducing a more flexible schedule that allows you and your employees to organize work around their obligations.
Forgetting the Time Zone of Your Coworkers
One of the worst ways to make your remote coworkers feel alienated is to treat one time zone, usually yours, as being the correct one. However, “the right time zone” simply does not exist and you need to be considerate about the difference in their time zones before calling them.
Forgetting the time zone of your coworkers could lead to late-night calls and that is something you sure do not want to do. You can use a simple timezone converter online to make sure you’re trying to contact a team member at an appropriate time.
Not Being Aware of Religious or Cultural Differences of Your Coworkers
One of the main advantages of remote work for companies is that they can source talent from all over the world. Such diverse talent also comes with diverse cultures.
But, the same as you have to be aware of the different time zones your teammates are in, you also have to be aware that not everyone believes, thinks, and lives their life the same as you.
To ensure you are respectful of everyone, you need to educate yourself about the various cultures and religions of your colleagues. Our advice is to organize online events where people could share specifics about their cultures which may differ from the rest of the world. The more aware everyone is of each other’s background, the more accepting and tolerant they’ll be.
Not Keeping Track of Employees’ Activities
One of the worst things you can do when managing a remote team is to micromanage. If it is not clear who is doing what and by when, you need to consider using remote PC monitoring software.
What remote PC monitoring software does is helps analyze and optimize the time your employees spend on each project, which helps you with better project organization and budgeting. You can also use the remote PC monitoring software for proof of work, meaning that you will be able to know exactly what your employees are doing at any time.
Tracking employees’ attendance, as well as the time for hourly workers is way simpler with a software like this. Just make sure you are not overusing it, and that your team is fully aware of all the benefits it can bring them.
Being Unprepared for a Meeting
Coming unprepared to a meeting, whether it is with your teammates, a client, or the entire company can be awkward or worse, it could throw off everyone.
To prevent this from happening, gather everything you need in advance so that you can organize yourself on time. Preparing yourself in advance will help you go relaxed into the meeting, so you can be more aware of what is happening in the meeting, making it more productive than it usually is.
Not Being Respectful of Chat Etiquette
Irritating chat etiquette, ie. constantly sending funny images or "important links" to the team chat and tagging everyone, could be a sign of an improper communication channel. While yes, chatting about non-work related topics is something your employees should do, there is a right place and time to do so.
Create specific Slack channels that are used just for memes or funny YouTube videos. You could also create a company-wide announcement that only company-related news are to be shared in certain chat rooms. By having multiple non-work-related channels, you encourage your employees to talk more to each other while at the same time mimicking the usual office chit-chats.
If done right, remote team management could result in even better employee performance than office work. To manage your remote employees better, focus on communication.
Do not try to multitask, remove any distractions, be respectful of your employees’ time zone and cultures, as well as of chat etiquette, keep track of the work your employees do and always come prepared to meetings.
Only then will you be able to enjoy the fruits of remote communication and remote work.