10 Secrets to Managing an International Remote Team
The world is currently going through a remote work revolution.
More and more individuals are choosing to make the switch from daily commutes to the office, to working from home or from where ever they so please. More companies are also increasingly embracing remote teams as they discover the benefits remote work provides not only to their employees’ satisfaction, but also their bottom line, as it frees up real estate costs and overhead.
According to the 2018 Future Workforce Report, nearly two-thirds of companies today have remote workers, and more than one third of full-time employees are expected to work remotely over the next 10 years.
The problem is, a lot of employers are not used to managing a team of remote workers that may be living all over the globe. Without proper management, it’s easy for communication gaps, inefficiencies, and mass confusion to arise among the team.
That’s why we’ve come up with 10 helpful tips that can greatly improve the management of an international remote team of workers. Here at Gremis, we have workers scattered all across the globe, from Canada to Israel and all the way to New Zealand.
If you implement these tips into your managing process, your international team is sure to become more efficient, connected, and satisfied!
1. Hire people that are a proper fit for remote work
The truth is, not everyone is cut out for working remotely. When assembling a remote team, it’s crucial to ensure the workers you’re bringing on board are capable of executing great work without a boss constantly looking over their shoulder. They should be highly independent and motivated individuals that take action instead of waiting to be told what to do all the time.
It’s also a good idea to ask potential employees about their work setup — do they have a dedicated home office space or do they have a coworking membership? If so, those are advantageous to their productivity and efficiency.
(By the way, offering membership to a local coworking space as a benefit to your employees can help boost productivity and job satisfaction!)
2. Get rid of meetings
It might seem like having video meetings with your team is a good idea to get everyone on the same page, but they often wind up being a huge time suck. When you have team members all over the world, it means some of them inevitably have to attend meetings at very inconvenient hours. More often than not, technical difficulties ensue as voices cut in and out or someone is having trouble connecting to the call. These video meetings often become sources of great frustration for everyone involved.
Having the occasional group video call can be beneficial, if there’s a big announcement to make or if you want to introduce a new member to the team. It’s nice to communicate “face-to-face” like this every once in a while. But try to keep them short and sweet so your team doesn’t feel like their time is being wasted.
3. Slack is your best friend
Having a text-based communication tool is essential for remote teams. Most teams utilize Slack, as you can have different organized channels for specific projects where the whole group can participate, plus private direct messages between individuals. Discord is another platform that is gaining popularity among remote teams as well.
There’s many benefits to keeping daily communications to a text-based platform, as it provides a record of everything that’s said. Anyone can go back to previous conversations should they need clarification on something that was announced, or on instructions that were given to them.
It also forces managers and other team members to become more effective in their communication strategies, since writing everything out takes more effort than just blabbing away to coworkers.
Most importantly, it allows team members all over the globe to be included in on all communications, without having to wake up at odd hours to make a meeting. Everyone is on the same page and nobody is inconvenienced.
4. Record instructional videos
Trying to explain how to perform certain tasks through text or over the phone can be a challenge. That’s why recording instructional videos can save everyone a lot of time and headache!
Using a tool like Loom enables you to capture your screen while you narrate instructions, allowing your teammates to easily follow along step-by-step. It’s also useful for giving feedback to a project, as you can go through and highlight the parts that need improving while explaining what can be changed or tweaked. This is great for cutting down on time required writing out lengthy emails.
5. Find a project management system that suits your team’s unique needs
Every team needs a central platform for managing projects. Our personal favorite is Trello, but there’s also Asana, Airtable, and Google Sheets, to name a few.
It’s vital that everyone stays active on whichever platform you choose, or else tasks can slip through the cracks. As long as everyone contributes, having a streamlined system in place allows everyone to easily see what work needs to get done, what’s been accomplished so far, and what’s coming up next. It helps keep your team organized and efficient, even when everyone’s scattered across the globe.
6. Communicate frequently
Communication is key both for in-office teams as well as remote teams, but it’s a bit trickier to ensure good communication practices are being enforced when you aren’t speaking face-to-face with one another each day.
A good rule of thumb is to always receive confirmation of receipt. Never assume someone saw an email, text, or new task card on Trello just because you sent it out or tagged them. Make sure they confirm explicitly that they have received it. This eliminates the possibility of workers missing deadlines because they missed an email or message.
Moreover, consider adding a channel to your team’s Slack that is dedicated to encouraging non-work banter. Working remotely can get lonely if you’re working from home all the time. Having a space for employees to socialize and bond with others can create a happier and more connected team.
7. Track work output and productivity
In a remote environment, it can be a challenge to understand what each team member has been working on and how long they are taking on each task. It can be helpful to keep workers on task by asking them to track their hours and what they work on each day, by using an online tool like Toggl. This will help you see the big picture of what your team is putting their time and efforts into.
8. Create a culture of accountability
It’s very important for everyone on the team to feel accountable for their work. One helpful way to help foster a culture of accountability is by having your team share what they have accomplished that week in Slack at the end of each workweek. This can help you see who is excelling and meeting goals, as well as who may need to improve upon their productivity, or who may be struggling with a certain task. It’s also a nice way to provide positive feedback and encouragement for your team’s hard work.
9. Organize in-person meetups
Offering in-person meetups a couple times a year can really strengthen the bonds in a remote team. You could hold a week-long work retreat in differing locations, where team members can finally work together and socialize in person.
You can also invite everyone to attend a relevant conference where your team can gain knowledge and insights together. It’s always a fun time!
10. Don’t micro-manage
Sometimes it can be hard to let go and trust your team to get things done on their own, since you can’t physically see that they’re working. But it’s important to encourage independence among your team, or else you will be constantly worrying and checking in on your workers.
“Since people are working remote, you need to “let go” and allow innovation. Since you can’t be over their shoulder all the time (and shouldn’t even if you could), it’s important to allow for space. Understand that freedom is often the best motor of creativity,” says Samuel Dionne, Managing Director at Gremis.
“ After all, the reason most people enjoy remote work is because of the freedom it provides — so let them have it! The end result will be a happy, productive team that provides awesome work no matter what time zone they’re in.”