4 tips to manage a distributed team

Remote workforces are becoming more common today, with many companies following in the successful footsteps of the likes of Automattic (WordPress), GitHub, and Stripe and giving their employees the flexibility they need. A recent US study showed that 73 per cent of remote workers report high satisfaction in their jobs, and in today’s competitive job market companies that want to hire and keep the best people need are taking these findings to heart.

Half of employees aged 50 or older and 70 per cent of millennials are already spending some time working away from traditional offices, and as these trends continue companies need to rethink how they engage with their workforce and ensure productivity improves alongside the freedom and flexibility. Here are four tips to managing remote teams.

Focus on IT

Distributed teams are only possible thanks to the rise of the internet and it remains true that the majority of companies with fully remote workforces are in the digital sector. It follows, then, that a remote team is best managed via software tools, with sites like Appvizer giving a good breakdown of how the various HR management tools compare and can impact on your business’ bottom line.

It is tasks that matter, not time

Putting in the hours at work is not a useful way to improve performance. Productivity improves when you give people agency over the workday, where they can work shorter days or different hours as long as the work is done by the deadline. Someone sitting in front of their desk all day watching the clock slowly tick down is no use to anybody. Instead, make sure your employees know that as long as the work is done to the right standard by the deadline it does not matter when they do the work or where they do it from – just that is gets completed. This means they might work form the office, or from home, or a co-working space nearby, or even from a beach – leave it up to them and they will tank you for it with better productivity.

Plan ahead

There are always times when things don’t go to plan and you have to make decisions on the fly, but the reality is that good planning is critical to getting the best out of your workforce. If you want to give your employees the freedom of working remotely, they can only do this effectively if they can plan out their work week, so that they know the deadlines and understand the tasks they are assigned. Only then can they work out the most effective way to use their time to get the work done.

Stay in constant contact

We stay in constant contact in our social lives thanks to WhatsApp, iMessage, and all the other messaging tools, and the same should be true for your workforce. Tools like Slack have become billion dollar businesses by letting teams constantly stay in contact, chat, share files, and more – all within one app and on whatever device they choose to use. To get the best out of your team, each person needs constant feedback to make sure they are going down the right path and their performance is up to scratch, and this means managers and teams should always be available.

How do you make sure your team works productively when distributed around the world?