Working within a distributed team certainly has its perks and downfalls. And that’s just working within one, never mind managing one. If you’ve had a background in managing office-based teams then remotely based, distributed teams can pose a whole new challenge.
It’s incredibly challenging but equally as rewarding if you get it spot on. This post will highlight five issues that managers of distributed teams are constantly facing and how you can easily put yourself in a position to overcome them.
- Little Human Contact
- Easy to Slack in Communication Levels
- No Access to Expertise
- Planning is Harder
- Few Team Meetups
The idea of working from home is great, isn’t it? However, the novelty can soon wear off and it can quickly become demotivating, boring and unproductive. If your employees don’t have a team to talk throughout the day, their morale can soon plummet.
Some tasks are perfect for isolation and quiet time. But there are definitely some tasks at work where collaboration and a chat with other employees is necessary. Even if it’s not work related, chatting with your work colleagues and friends helps keep a good vibe around the place, which ultimately improves morale and productivity.
So, how can you keep morale and productivity levels up with such little human contact?
One simple way of doing it is encouraging your team members to work from different places when working on different tasks. As we’ve said, some tasks require isolation and they can benefit from silence but why not try working at the local coffee shop on some tasks? At least there’s a buzz about the place, you’re actually speaking to people and you’re most likely to bump into other remote workers.
It’s easy to see your team members as a digital commodity when you’re managing a distributed team. So, make a conscious effort to ask them about their day, personal life or what they got up to on the weekends. Having that personal interaction with your employees can help them keep motivated and build strong employer-employee relations.
As you’d expect, maintaining communication levels in distributed teams can prove to be quite the issue. It’s not like a normal office where you can simply walk up to the person you want to speak to’s desk and have a quick chat.
You have to rely on email, instant messenger and phone calls to communicate. This means that even solving the simplest of tasks can take much longer than it needs to. Plus, emails and messages can easily be misinterpreted, whereas, when communicating face to face, you can bounce off each other’s reactions and body language to get to the bottom of problems and find a solution.
The best way to combat a lack of communication is by integrating efficient instant messaging apps. Some problems don’t warrant a phone call and an email chain would take too long to solve a quick fix. Slack is a great tool to keep your communication levels up to a high standard within your business. Here’s how to use it for newbies.
This one dovetails with the lack of communication and human interaction. Technical jobs, like developing, can often get stuck and require a little help from someone else in their department who perhaps knows the specifics of a certain problem in more detail. In a normal office, they’d simply be able to walk over and grab the required person for a few minutes.
However, you can’t do this when you’re working remotely. To help your distributed team become unstuck when they need a little expertise, make use of your networking connections. Network at events and build strong relationships with other businesses, that way if you do get stuck you can get in touch with them and tap into their field of expertise. It’s easier and cheaper than employing more people.
Keeping tabs on project planning within an office is hard enough, never mind within a distributed team. One effective way of knowing exactly where each project is up to and who’s accountable for which parts is by implementing a top project management system.
This allows you to see the progress on each project and give your clients a realistic estimate of when they’ll be ready. It also allows you to spot mistakes and where certain projects are falling down.
If you’ve never met somebody you’re meant to work with, you don’t know how you should talk to them, how they appreciate feedback and the patterns in which they prefer to work. Team meetups allow your team to bond and gel. Some people don't like the idea of team-building exercises and days, but they’re proven to help.
When you don’t interact face to face it’s hard to form working relationships, both as a manager and between your employees too.
The easy way to combat this issue is by scheduling team meetups regularly and give yourself and your employees the chance to really get to know the people who they’re working with. This will help your business grow and work more efficiently in the future.
Improve Your Communication Channels
As we’ve established, the key to managing a distributed team effectively is with strong communication levels. You can’t afford to let these slip otherwise your team will become demoralised and unproductive and it will result in your standard of work slipping too.
Luckily, CircleLoop provides an innovative app-based business phone system which has the ability to instant message too. In order to keep your communication levels at the highest standard it pays to have the best technology to stand you in good stead, doesn’t it?
We’ve put together an ebook that covers all things communication. Download your free copy below today and take the first step towards reaching the pinnacle of communication within your distributed team.