Managing a Remote Team From a Coworking Space
Remote teams are becoming increasingly popular in the today’s business world. For example, my own team members are scattered across 5 different countries. Some of them, myself included, work from various coworking spaces, while others work from home. Even though it is challenging, we have somehow managed to overcome all the difficulties of working together effectively despite being so dispersed as a team.
One of the most difficult challenges of managing a remote team is supervising workers that live in different time zones. Another important aspect of a remote team's success is trust building. It is not easy to earn your team members’ trust when they cannot communicate with you in person. That is why we have to try to make them feel like they are a part of a greater whole.
About Setting Expectations
If you do not want to see your team fail miserably, you have to set clear expectations and rules for all the possible interactions. You have to set the monthly, quarterly, and yearly performance goals and create the lines of accountability.
From them on, you should do everything that you would normally do with an in-house team. You should check the remote team’s progress regularly and let the individual members know that they are not being treated any differently from the rest of the company’s employees.
Schedule Visits in a Timely Manner
What I found to be quite effective for the performance of the remote team is visiting the employees on a regular basis. Since I work from a coworking space, it is only logical that I do not have the time nor the resources to visit each employee separately. But it is important to do this, at least in the beginning.
It makes a world of difference to visit the remote employees at least a couple of times and talk to them face-to-face. This will give them comfort and set the tone for future interactions. I visited each of my team members regularly and got to know them a bit. I got familiarized with their working environments and gained valuable insight into their routines.
Most of the time, I schedule conference calls with my team directly from my favorite coworking space. Some of my team members also work in coworking spaces, so I intuitively know what their situation is. For those that work from home or in remote offices, I try to visit them at least once every six months or so to check if everything is in order.
Foster Healthy Communication
What I found to be of utmost importance when managing a remote team is setting a communication code of conduct, per se. Employees need to be know how quickly they should respond to emails and when and how to follow- up. They also need to be aware of the days that are designated for check- in calls. You do not want the remote workers to feel neglected and abandoned when they are already far away from the action.
If you are working with people across different time zones, always remember to set up the meetings on a rotating schedule. This way, no one will be burdened or disrupted. My team and I use this online time clock to schedule our meetings. It shows us exactly who clocked in and from where, which is especially convenient for our international team. These kinds of software can make remote team management a breeze, especially if you are working from a coworking space like myself.
Simulate Watercooler Moments
As a remote team manager, your job, among others, is to create unexpected interactions and spark sudden conversations between team members. A great way to do this is to establish video links between your office and theirs. This may be unconventional, but the workers will feel much more connected to one another if they could have insight into what is going on in the main headquarters.
Video conversations can be awesome, especially if you are managing a remote team from a coworking space. What I found to be helpful is set up a live video chat on Google hangouts or Skype. Video brings us closer together and is much more powerful for conveying messages than email. When the team converses on a regular basis, they will be more likely to pass on valuable knowledge among each other and that will ultimately aid the company.
On the Way to Success
Managing remote teams from coworking spaces is not at all difficult as it may sound. It is all about the approach. With the correct use of technology and with the techniques that bring the fragmented team back together, remote team management can be a piece of cake. Remember to put the people first and you will have the team of your dreams and workers that are happy to put in the extra hours to create greatness.
Guest Post by Oscar Waterworth, Freelance Writer at Water&Co
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