Until very recently, “running a business” more or less invariably meant having to set yourself up with a physical office and/or warehouse space, in addition to hiring and managing various members of staff in real-space, handling inventory, and other such time-consuming stuff.
3 Tips for Effectively Managing a Team of Remote Workers
In the last few years, however, the incredible growth of the Internet and assorted digital technologies have meant that more and more people are able to essentially run businesses entirely through virtual space, from the luxury of their own homes, while nonetheless plying their trade far and wide.
But it’s one thing to work as a web-based entrepreneur from home, and quite another thing to effectively handle a team of remote workers, once your business expands sufficiently to require it.
These days, many tools exist in order to streamline this process, including, for example, Cloudpay UK for outsourced payroll management.
But what about the actual job of managing those remote workers, and successfully playing the role of “boss” through the web?
Here are some tips.
Use a team-specific project management tool in order to prevent people from stepping on each other’s toes
One of the number one pet peeves of employers worldwide is when members of the team don’t “sync up” properly, and as a result, constantly stepping on each other’s toes, undermine each other’s work unintentionally, and come to loggerheads.
While this issue is bad enough when all of your employees share physical office space with you, it can quickly become a nightmare when your entire team works remotely and may have little if any contact with each other, not to mention different working schedules.
Perhaps the most straightforward and effective way of handling this particular stumbling block is to use a team-specific project management tool such as Trello.
Trello uses a digital form of the much beloved Kanban project management system, with the added benefit that you can “lock” certain tasks to particular individuals, and make them entirely responsible for marking the progress of those tasks.
This creates a quick and easy overview for every member of the team to see how much work has been done on a particular project, and who is responsible for which particular moving part.
Don’t try to micromanage – set assignments and deadlines, and then leave them to it
If you want to successfully and effectively manage a team of remote workers, you really can’t be too much of a control freak.
For one thing, you simply can’t supervise an employee very closely when they’re not even in the same city as you, and for another, attempting to impose an arbitrary structure on your team members may only disturb their personalised systems and approaches.
So, what should you do? Simple. Set assignments and deadlines, and then leave them to it.
As long as the work is turned in when it needs to be, and is up to the required standard, what else really matters?
Schedule regular “check-in” times with each team member, one-to-one
One mistake that employers of remote workers sometimes make, is to rely heavily on group conference calls in order to “follow-up.”
Generally, this only leads to a lot of people talking over each other, without sufficient physical cues to have a meaningful collective discussion or involve everyone sufficiently.
The far better approach is to “check-in” at regular times, with each team member, one-to-one.
This doesn’t even have to take place via a video or voice call at all. Simply beginning an email thread at an opportune moment, containing your latest feedback, and requesting necessary updates, can be more than adequate.