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Build Engagement When Managing a Remote Team
Managing a Remote Team? Technology in recent years has made it much more possible to hire and work remotely.
A remote team can be beneficial for growing your business by cutting overhead costs and attracting quality talent with the promise of greater freedom and location independence.
However, there are specific challenges that come along with it.
If you manage a remote team, you need to be able to effectively track results, keep morale high, and build team chemistry to keep going strong.
In this article, we will discuss five ways to build engagement between your remote team to increase productivity:
Use More Video Calls
When your team is in the same office, there is less lag time between communication.
Instead of waiting for back and forth texting or chat messages, they can simply lean over to their colleagues and immediately engage.
One of the main sacrifices you make by having a remote team is time. When you’re not physically in front of someone, it simply takes longer to get on the same page about something.
This can become quite important in various areas of your business.
Video calls allow you to communicate with any of your team members instantly. You can also read their body language and get a better understanding of their thoughts and requests.
Using video calls is the next best thing to being physically there in person, and it can help immensely in the following areas of business:
- Getting Approval Before Signing off on a Large Deal
Sales are the lifeblood of any successful organization. And when it comes to sales, time is of the essence.
Imagine your sales rep working tirelessly to close a customer who is about to make a large purchase.
The deal could boost revenue significantly and supercharge your cash flow for the next several months.
However, there’s a problem: The customer needs to know your best-negotiating terms because they lose their budget tomorrow, and they’re making a decision between you and your competitor.
In a traditional company, the sales rep can walk over to chat with the sales manager and get approval to earn their commission and bring the company an excellent new client.
However, remote reps don’t have this same option.
By giving them access to their managers, you can empower them to get the answers and approvals they need quicker.
This keeps the deal flow going smoothly and avoids antagonizing customers or losing them to the competitors.
- Clarifying Details of a Project
If you are a project manager, bringing all of the different components together for a successful result is quite a task. Your designers, copywriters, salespeople, customer service reps, and other team members each have specific jobs to do.
For everyone to do their part and prevent delaying other team members, specific instructions and evaluations need to take place. Video calls can help alleviate miscommunication.
Holding a daily or (at least) weekly video conference is a great way to clarify your project details. What seems simple to you may be worded in a confusing way for your colleagues.
And of course, you also gain the benefit of higher engagement and team bonding via video.
Sharing Ideas to Spark Innovation
Sometimes people respond better to visuals rather than simple text or audio descriptions. This is especially true if you focus on providing design services as a part of your business.
Using video calls will keep your remote workers engaged in the task at hand because they can physically see various ideas and recommendations.
Of course, this contributes to brainstorming.
A team that does video calls together can collaborate on a deeper level, even if they are thousands of miles apart.
The end result is having smarter solutions for your business and ultimately, the clients you serve.
- Getting Updates from Your Team
In a perfect world, you would simply give your team a directive and wait until they perform their role perfectly without checking.
But since we’re dealing with human beings, it requires a bit more communication than that.
You want to ensure that your remote team is engaged with their work and the company’s mission. To do this, you can see video calls for quick check-ins here and there.
The added benefit is social pressure: knowing you’re going to be on camera with your boss tends to inspire a bit more professionalism.
Encourage “Watercooler Chat”
With the new culture of remote work, digital nomadism, and location-independent business, companies seem to have lost the art of “watercooler chat.”
Everyone has stress in their life to varying degrees. Being able to chat informally with coworkers is like a rite of passage.
From simply venting about a crazy call they just took to debating which sports team is going to win it all this year, a little light-hearted conversation helps build team bonds.
When your team members feel encouraged to communicate with each other as friends, they will have greater respect for everyone on the team.
This will foster engagement, faster response times, and a greater feeling of obligation toward doing their part in the company.
Managing a Remote Team: Acknowledge Accomplishments
Even the most confident people in your business want to feel acknowledged. It is a core human need.
Therefore, be sure that your culture’s DNA has built into it a way for everyone to receive an appropriate acknowledgment.
Otherwise, you might find that your top performers leave for greener pastures.
When employees feel acknowledged and appreciated, their productivity will go up.
People respond to incentives, and most people are happy with reasonable compensation and their fair share of thanks.
There are various ways to increase engagement with acknowledgments.
For instance, have a running competition with the sales team. Whenever they score a lead, a sale, or another objective, put it up on the scoreboard.
This will fuel engagement and internal friendly competition, boosting your overall revenue and making work more fun.
Also, consider sending thank you messages to employees who have been with the company for a certain amount of time.
And finally, managing a remote team, other forms of compensation like vacations, prizes, and cash are always effective.
Provide Learning and Training Opportunities
In every business, managing a remote team, you need to provide room for your team to grow. Of course, when your team is halfway across the globe, this becomes even more critical.
In today’s world, your market could change overnight. To properly address your target market’s needs, your team needs to be sharp, trained, and continually learning.
Otherwise, you might watch as your competition passes you by.
Creating new learning opportunities can be done in a variety of ways when managing a remote team:
- Gamification of Onboarding
It’s no secret that onboarding can be tedious, especially from the new hire’s perspective. Since they’re working remotely, you’ll want to make them feel as engaged and connected as possible.
A great way to make this process more interesting is to use “gamification.” Consider a web portal that trains your new hires step by step.
Along the way, you can include reviews, games, quizzes, and more.
When they’ve reached a certain step, provide them with a virtual badge or reward. It might seem silly at first, but you can make onboarding more fun and on-brand with the right sequence.
- Making Sales a Fun Competition
You want to gamify your sales goals in any way possible. Salespeople are under a lot of stress throughout the day.
Find fun ways to reward them for achieving daily, weekly, and monthly sales goals.
Don’t underestimate the power of accolades. While cash and prizes are excellent motivators, so is the idea of having a “sales leader” badge by their username in your internal business app where everyone can see.
- Providing a Stipend for Learning
Put your money where your mouth is by offering reimbursements for courses, training, and other educational pursuits.
As long as it contributes to their productivity, it’s a good thing for your bottom line.
Use an Internal App
In business, there are an infinite amount of things you can’t control. And that’s part of what makes being an entrepreneur or manager so challenging.
Therefore, you need to increase the control that you do have in your business. Creating an internal app is a great way to do this.
You can enjoy the exact features you want for your team so that they can stay more engaged.
Creating an app might seem like a big task to take on. This is true, but luckily you don’t need to hire people in-house or divert your team’s energy to accomplish this.
Outsourcing app development is the fastest and best way to build it.
When dealing with professional app developers, you can get your questions answered and have confidence that your specifications will be met.
Here are just some of the great things an internal app can provide for your company:
- Shared Calendar
Your employees might have different email or calendar apps that they use on their devices. Trying to sync everyone onto the same calendar can prove to be an uphill battle.
Instead, use a shared calendar embedded right into your own application. You can create separate views and permissions for managers, reps, and more.
That way, everyone will be on the same page for meetings, deadlines, and holidays.
- Project Updates
Project management software has become a must for remote teams. When you have different moving parts, you need to ensure that everyone can stay engaged in the same place.
With your own in-house app, you can share files, screenshots, videos, and messages in real-time.
And you have the added bonus of knowing your information is secure and not within the hands of a third party.
The benefit of mobility is particularly useful if your employees are not just sitting in front of a PC all day long, but do their work on the go, such as meeting clients or inspecting sites.
- Time or Screen Tracker
If you pay hourly employees, you can make it easier for them to clock in and clock out. This also helps you see if they are logged in during their working hours.
Certain roles require more supervision. You can ensure that work is done correctly by having team members use a screen tracker.
You can see what they’re working on (or not) during their allotted working hours.
If you start to notice performance issues with a particular team member, you can review their screenshots to evaluate whether they were truly working or not.
Most people are honest. But this gives you a safeguard against people who want to take advantage of your remote working agreement.
That way, you can maintain the most productive team possible and avoid wasting payroll.
- Call Recording
Sales and customer service agents spend a lot of time on the phone with customers. Have your managers check in from time to time to see how they’re treating your customers.
These can also be used for training purposes.
- Group Chat and Messaging
You need a common place where your whole team can communicate. Furthermore, you can have distinct rooms or channels for specific teams.
This ensures that nothing gets lost in the cracks.
Manually training each new employee is not scalable. Instead, you can create training modules. This could consist of text, videos, and interactive media.
All your new hires have to do is sign in to the app each day, and soon they can contribute to your team.
- HR and Compliance
It’s important that your team feels safe, understood, and respected. If issues arise between team members, make sure there is a channel for them to voice their concerns.
Furthermore, you can automate paperwork and other compliance requirements to prevent further issues.
Managing a Remote Team: Conclusion
Having a remote team has never been more possible or lucrative. Video and other communication technology allow you and your remote team to stay on the same page, connect, and get more done.
If you take the right steps, your remote team can be more profitable than having employees in an office.
But having team members distributed in different geographic areas around the globe has potential pitfalls.
Using the tips above, you can ensure your team stays engaged and on track toward your business goals.
Joe Peters is a Baltimore-based freelance writer and an ultimate techie.
When he is not working his magic as a marketing consultant, this incurable tech junkie devours the news on the latest gadgets and binge-watches his favorite TV shows.
Follow him on @bmorepeters