13 Ways To Successfully Lead A Remote Team in 2021

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Working outside of the office space has become more popular since the inception of the global pandemic. Some people were already working remotely before the lockdown and were familiar with the remote work model.

Unfortunately, many organizations, forced to embrace remote work, are struggling to cope with the challenges of leading remote teams. Many virtual leaders do not know how to inspire productivity in remote employees.

Most remote team leaders find it difficult to discipline team members because of the limited nature of physical interaction and verbal communication.

When team members are not physically present, leaders can feel powerless and not in control of the situation.

So what can virtual leaders do? Throw their arms up in surrender? Sadly, this won’t work.

Studies suggest that the rise in remote work won’t end with the pandemic but will continue to increase. Virtual leadership will continue to be a trend in the workplace.

To succeed in their role, virtual team leaders will have to find ways to handle the following remote work challenges:

  • Inadequate employee monitoring.
  • Employee loneliness.
  • Low motivation.
  • Difficulty maintaining focus.
  • Employee distractions.
  • Mistrust.
  • Lack of proper remote work tools.
  • Difficulty tracking your team’s project.
  • Problems tracking how much time remote workers spend at work.
  • Communication problems.

Virtual leaders must employ effective strategies that can help to increase employee productivity.

Virtual leaders must employ effective strategies that can help to increase employee productivity. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sales leader with rigid sales objectives, a project leader who needs to manage a big project, or a small team leader, you need to be on good terms with your team(s).

Below are some surefire strategies for leaders to effectively guide their remote teams to their set goals.

1. Don’t be Rigid; be Flexible.

A study conducted by Sussanna Shagvaliyeva and Rashad Yazdanifard, and published in the American Journal of Industrial and Business Management shows that organizations with flexible working hours promote and facilitate work-life balance among their workers.

Yes, there is no doubt that team leaders are in charge. They call the shots, and the buck stops at their table.

But just because you are the leader does not mean you should be rigid. You need the cooperation of your team members to succeed.

Workers do not like managers who are always breathing down their necks. Using a flexible approach will help your team get the job done.

2. Schedule Regular Meetings.

One of the challenges of remote work is that employees quickly forget that they are doing serious work.

Scheduling regular meetings will not only keep your remote team connected and engaged, but will help them focus on the tasks at hand.

It is, therefore, important that remote team managers schedule frequent meetings with members of their team.

According to studies, regular meetings with members of your team contribute to leader and organizational success.

Fortunately for remote team managers, there are tons of tools that can help team members meet regularly.

It is, therefore important that team managers schedule frequent meetings with members of their team whether through remote one-on-ones or team meetings

3. Create Platforms for Social Interactions.

Some benefits of social interaction include good mental health, increase in morale, high productivity, and job satisfaction.

Many virtual workers around the world are dealing with the isolation linked to working remotely.

According to a research by Jay Mulki, Fleura Bardhi, Felicia Lassk and Jayne Nanavaty-Dahl, published in MIT Sloan Management Review, managers should promote face-to-face interactions with colleagues.

By creating platforms where remote workers can socially engage with each other, leaders can build positive emotions in their employees. Slack, Basecamp, and Skype are great platforms for remote team-building activities.

4. Build a Support System for your Team.

Remote workers need support in many areas of their work. The ability of a leader to provide support when needed will determine the success of the team.

Remote team workers need round-the-clock support on technical issues and access to critical information.

To effectively provide support, a team leader must have the right hardware and software.

With the right remote working tools, you can track and monitor productivity; determine how much time they are spending at work and manage distractions.

Studies suggest that remote workers are prone to burnout, fatigue, and anxiety. As a remote leader, you can avoid overworking your staff by introducing time tracking and time management tools.

Not only will these tools help your workers manage distractions, but they will also help them to avoid burnout. It’s a good idea to choose from an extensive list of time tracking and time management tools before you recommend one to your procurement and/or HR manager.

Other effective ways to provide support for your remote team include:

  • Encourage team collaboration.
  • Constantly set expectations.
  • Keep track of remote workers progress.
  • Be available.

5. Keep track of your Team’s Performance.

What you can’t track, you can’t measure. Tracking employee performance enables you to measure and determine each team member’s level of output.

Data harvested from this process will tell you if you are on the right track or whether improvements are required.

Some of the benefits of tracking your team’s performance include:

  • Increase in Employee Productivity.
  • Better budget planning.
  • Accurate Feedback Delivery System.
  • Improved Project Management.

There are drawbacks associated with employee monitoring. Remote team leaders should be careful when tracking the performance of their members.

Employee monitoring should as much as possible be limited so workers will not feel inundated.

6. Learn to Manage Workforce Diversity.

Many remote teams are now made up of people from different countries and regions around the world.

Research shows that organizations with a more diverse workforce perform better than less diverse organizations.

But workforce diversity has its problems as many organizations are struggling to manage their employee differences.

Although it is difficult to manage team members from different cultures, some strategies can help leaders stay on top of the situation.

Some of the best ways to manage cultural differences include:

  • Shun cultural stereotypes.
  • Take note of different time zones.
  • Learn each team member’s method of communication.
  • Organize training.

7. Equip your Remote Team with the Right Tools.

Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools, we become vulnerable and cannot accomplish much.

For maximum productivity, your remote team must have basic tools to accomplish their tasks.

Apart from an increase in productivity, the other benefits of having the right tools are:

  • Flexibility.
  • Low expenditure.
  • Faster service delivery.
  • Faster communication.
  • Data security.
  • Effective collaboration.
  • Process automation.

Your remote team can accomplish very little without the right tools. Fortunately, there are many time tracking, management, and remote sales tools to choose from.

8. Promote Collaboration.

Many studies show that collaboration makes it easier for remote teams to meet their set goals.

In one of such studies, by Jamal M. Assbeihat published in Management and Administrative Science Review, the research showed that there is a positive relationship between collaboration among members and team performance.

Leaders have a huge role to play in building collaboration among the members of the remote team.

A good remote team leader knows how to effectively engage the workers to collaborate.

An efficient collaboration will have many benefits for your remote team including:

  • Less stress.
  • Saves time.
  • Creates a stronger bond.
  • Boosts morale.
  • Make your workers more efficient.

9. Recognize Employee Achievements.

Recognizing your employees’ success and achievements is a great way to motivate your team.

When you recognize your team’s achievements, you boost their morale and make them more dedicated to work.

Don’t take your team’s little achievements for granted. When you do, you lower their morale and zeal to do more.

Some of the great ways to recognize and celebrate your team’s success include:

  • Give them awards.
  • Take them on field trips.
  • Give them lunch breaks.
  • Provide gift cards.
  • Invite their loved ones to company events.

Be generous with your praise and gifts to members of your team, and watch productivity soar.

10. Build Trust with the members of your Team.

Trust is a huge part of any team’s success. Research indicates that team members acquire more knowledge when management trusts them.

A good leader should know how to manage a remote team without compromising the freedom of employees to take initiative.

When you give your remote workers a free hand to operate, they develop personal accountability for the project.

There are several ways to build trust among your team members. Identify the ones that will work for your team and use them.

Some of the ways to build trust in remote team members are:

  • Be honest.
  • Listen.
  • Be respectful.
  • Don’t discriminate.
  • Involve them in decision-making.
  • Give them a free hand to work.
  • Respond quickly to questions.

Without trust, it will be difficult for any organization to build other positive traits that boost productivity.

11. Create clear goals.

Any team without clear goals will lack focus and be like people groping around in the dark.

It is the responsibility of the leader to notify team members of what management expects of them.

A good leader will always put the organization’s vision and goals on the front burner of the team’s activities.

Some great ways to create clear goals for your team include:

Creating clear goals will not only help your team members stay focused but keep them on track to achieving the target.

12. Be Transparent.

To be transparent with your team involves being honest and open about the operations of the organization.

Team leaders must be willing to share vital information relating to the organization’s goals and business processes.

Lack of transparency is one way to stifle imagination and creativity among members of a team.

13. Take care of your Team’s Well-being.

The well-being of your team members will determine the level of success they will achieve as a unit.

Your workers are not robots. They are susceptible to all the health and emotional problems that affect human beings.

By encouraging them to take time off to rest and take care of themselves, your workers will be fit to perform at an optimal level.

When a leader demonstrates humanity to the workers, they would in turn put in more effort in their jobs.

Final thoughts.

Smart leaders have developed strategies that can help them guide their remote teams to success.

No remote team can function successfully and achieve its set goals without efficient leadership.

The challenges that come with remote work need a leader who can help employees perform better. So be a good leader by implementing the above strategies today.

Author:

Nonyerem Ibiam is a freelance writer on a wide range of niches including legal, business, technology, marketing, and finance. He is also the founder of LawTruly.