Managing Remote Teams
These days it is more and more common to have team members who work at alternate locations for example, home, across the country or across the globe. A properly managed remote team can be very productive and happy. But, the opposite can also be true. So, what makes some teams successful and some less than so? The answer is rather complex and maybe too lengthy for one blog entry-perhaps I will return for future installments on this topic.
My own research has uncovered a few basic constants that many successful remote teams seem to share.
- Technology Overkill. Yes, technology is essential to a remote worksite but many companies seem to focus more on the technological tools instead of clearly established methods, guidelines and principles for remote workers.
- Structure. A remote team, especially its leaders, need to maintain a greater structure and not less. Leaders must be decisive especially when communication of deadlines, expectations and ideas, even more so than with local teams. It is easy for that one remote team member to get lost in the shuffle. Consistent structure for everyone is essential.
- Flexiblity. When dealing with multicultural and multinational teams, it is essential to remain flexible keeping in mind differences in time zones, culture and other differences.
- Create a shared sense of purpose: Teams lacking a shared sense of purpose tend to focus on their own impact on the bottom line but miss how their input is impacted on and impacts others.
- Make time for team building: Remote teams lack the daily, break room, corridor, and water cooler interactions that same office colleagues share. Without these small, day to day human interactions teams miss out on that dynamic that makes a team great. Without this a team is just a group of people. Some companies even fly their entire teams to retreats or events once a year just to facilitate and build a true team corporate culture.
These are just a few common factors that make successful remote teams but there are many other contributing factors to successful teams that are separated by distance. Share some of your examples of what makes multi-site teams a success in the comments.