LEADING REMOTE TEAM MEMBERS
“Home is where I work and I work everywhere”.
“When you work from home, you live at work”
The above quotes are reflections of a way of life, a way of work, for many of us or someone we know. The advent of technology has opened up career opportunities for millions, in varied fields, sitting in remote locations. A person no longer has to travel to work, spend 8 or 9 days in a physical space with others and then head home, at times for hours to their homes. This way of life is known as “work from home” or “working from a remote location”. Umang In Palampur can sit at home and do medical transcription, Joyjit Talukdar can design websites in the comfort of his parlor in Guwahati and Rajat Bansal can churn out articles & blogs for his clients while in Ambala tending to his ailing father.
Though working from home/remote locations is an enabler for many, it brings headaches for managers and leaders who are responsible for the performance of such team members (one or multiple, freelancers or part-timers or full-time personnel). For a manager, trust is important to work with such remote team members. However, it is also important to assign work, track their work, and pull up laggards. Team members even though not present physically need to report to their managers on a regular basis as well.
For team managers and leaders, issues crop when dealing with personnel in remote locations. The first being communication. Since they are not physically present, it is important to be clear in assigning tasks, etc and keep all channels of communication open at all times for it to succeed. Team members working from home at times don’t feel part of the team or feel unappreciated by the management at large.
To deal with remote team members, here are some suggestions for an improved work environment and how to manage/ lead effectively:
Harness technology - Many technological tools like zoom and MS teams are now at our easy disposal. Thus meetings can be held in virtual space, video, or plain audio calls. Video conferencing is increasingly being used and especially in today’s day and age, where the world is under lockdown and people are working from home, due to the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Clear communication - As a team manager, you need to convey clear and detailed communication to all team members especially those in remote locations. There should be no scope of misinterpretation or ambiguity. Set deadlines, goals, and milestones.
Constant interaction – As a leader, you need to make the team members feel important and engaged. Communicate with them on a regular basis through weekly calls or teleconferencing with others. Stay connected with them through various channels available to you.
Software tools – Deploy software from the plethora available nowadays to manage remote team members. These enable you to assign, track, and monitor performances. A project management software or its tools are ideal for communication, sharing, collaborating, and evaluation of members & their work.
Recommended read: Importance of communication while working in teams
With these suggestions, you can manage team members located in different locations, time zones with ease, and precision.