Managing Remote Teams

The benefits of having a remote or partially remote team are striking and have become much more apparent in the last year. Studies show that remote workers are generally more productive, healthier, and happier than their office counterparts. At the same time, employers can experience 50% better retention and save $11,000 per remote work, per year, on average.

It isn’t easy to see why any manager wouldn’t want their team working remotely with all these benefits. However, some challenges have left some companies feeling unsure if they are ready to embrace a permanent remote workforce.

Fortunately, advances in automation tools can help ease the burdens on managers of remote teams. Read on to find out what challenges you may face as a remote team manager and how you can reduce the burden using automation.

Challenges of Managing A Remote Team And Creative Solutions

There will be different challenges for different industries. But, of course, every business and even every team within a company will have its own unique obstacles to overcome when it comes to managing remote workers.

There are a few key areas to be aware of. Here are some of the biggest frustrations of remote team managers and our favorite automation solutions.

Training and Onboarding

Providing effective training to new hires is one of the biggest challenges to managing a remote team. Some managers complain that when training new team members, they simply can’t judge the focus of the new remote hire over a screen, and it is harder to tell if they are really “getting it.”

A manager could sit down with a new hire in an office setting and watch them complete a task. The new hire could easily ask questions as they go, and the manager could observe their expressions and methods to make corrections before they become bad habits.

As a result of not seeing all of the nonverbal visual cues an employee might give during training, the onboarding process takes a lot longer, and managers are struggling to find the time.

Another challenge that can arise happens when training a group of new employees. Because everyone moves at their own pace, training a group over zoom or another video conferencing platform can prove very inefficient because some trainees will finish training tasks earlier than others and could spend hours of time simply waiting for the rest of the group to catch up.

Tools that can help: Automated Task Dependencies and Learning Management Systems (LMS)

If you have many new hires that must go through more complex or rigorous training, there are many cloud-based learning management systems that include automation.

Programs such as AbsorbLMS, Cornerstone, and Docebo will allow you to create an entire training program complete with tasks, materials, certificates, and more.

You can even create a training program that incorporates other departments and “gamifies” the training with awards and certificates so that employees are motivated and engaged with the material. With your training almost entirely automated, you may even spend less time training new hires than if they were physically in an office with you.

Additionally, when new employees can learn at their own pace, take quizzes along the way to make sure they understand the material, and receive fun incentives to complete assignments, training might be more effective than ever.

Tracking

With your team working from home, it can be challenging to know whether people are distracted, letting things fall through the cracks, or even sleeping on the job.

In some industries, it won’t matter when the work gets done as long as it gets done, but remote team managers still need an efficient way to keep track of all tasks, projects, and deadlines so that nothing is missed.

Employees may need to be awake and alert during working hours to answer occasional calls from clients and co-workers in other organizations. So how can managers in both of these situations keep track of everything without spending their entire day chasing down each individual remote worker or having workers waste hours filling out tedious reports?

Tools that can help: Activity Tracking, Repeating Reminders, and Form Automation Software

It is well known that you can use team collaboration software such as Slack to send out repeating reminders. So why not use this feature to send team members a weekly (or even daily) reminder to submit a recap of what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve been working on, or what their goals are?

Combine this with a form automation software such as Hubspot or Prontoforms. You can allow your employees to quickly and easily input updates on their day or week, and you can see the data all neatly displayed in an intuitive spreadsheet without wasting time on formatting.

Suppose you are concerned that employees may not be as alert as they need to be during business hours. In that case, activity tracking and sales automation software such as Pega can automatically track and monitor activities, emails, and even assignments given to other staff without employees entering any information. This way, your team can focus on the most critical work.

Collaboration

For busy teams, collaboration is always a challenge. Although the ability to work independently is essential for remote teams, hyper-independence can lead to disunity and problems that end up costing the company time and money. If you deal with different time zones and work around individual schedules, collaboration can become an even more significant challenge. It is essential for managers to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

The best way to do this is by implementing workflows that incorporate checks and balances between team members. This is easy to do with the right automation tools.

Automation Tools that can help: Project Management Software, Calendar Integration, and Recurring Meetings

Project management software platforms allow users to efficiently work on tasks collaboratively. For example, most platforms such as Asana will enable you to organize tasks and projects so that users with access to a particular project can see all tasks within the project, who is working on them, and how much progress has been made.

If a review of a document is necessary, it can be assigned to another team member automatically with a deadline set based on logic commands. When you add in Calendar integration, team members will be able to see at a glance which of their co-workers have availability to collaborate on projects, even if they are in different time zones.

Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom will allow managers to effortlessly schedule repeating team meetings. For example, when integrated with Slack, you can automatically send out reminders through the team collaboration software with a zoom link.

Final Thoughts

Businesses have been using automation for years to free up employees and managers from the monotonous, repetitive, and tedious aspects of their work to have the time and energy to focus on the complex, creative work they were hired for.

Excitingly, advances in automation technology have allowed for nearly limitless opportunities and ways to use the software. Now, with remote work at an all-time high, it is the perfect time to assess possible time and energy drains, pain points, and extra stress that has been brought about by the transition to a remote workforce.

Once you’ve identified these, it will be easier to find an automation software or feature to help your remote teams be productive, efficient and fulfilled.

Image Credit: rodnae productions; pexels; thank you!

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