Most descriptions used in the past to describe corporate culture (for example, the grind, the rat race, cubicle farms) can’t apply to modern business anymore. Nowadays, many business representatives don’t get to spend a whole week at their base office. Some companies have dismissed the idea of traditional workspace, conventional hours and other business regulations for more modern casual corporate cultures, which may include amenities like a work-from-home policy or unlimited vacation time. Regardless if your company is entirely traditional or among the most open-minded startups in the domain, remote management has turned into a hot topic in the wake of mobile technology. We’ve gathered up some expert opinions on how to manage your people from afar, no matter if you’re going to frequently manage your team during work travel or are simply considering the possibility for a future trip.
- Create a Culture of Complete Transparency
If you manage a geographically spread team, you might face the possibility that your employees feel separated from their colleagues, the management or the larger objectives of the company. Inc.’s Jeff Haden states that in situations when coworkers coexist, they gain a great amount of information. A policy of total transparency can provide a sustaining context that might substitute the idea of co-working in the same physical location. Buffer’s culture of complete transparency, meaning complete knowledge of the salaries, employee equity and even the amount of sleep the staff gets, is legendary. HubSpot has a more direct attitude towards transparency, sending out a system of measurement which objectively rates each employees’ activity against their position’s standards on a daily basis. No matter how you decide to deal with the issue of transparency, it is essential to make the effort of ensuring that your team stays connected during your time away.
- Invest in the Right Technology
Was the concept of remote management achievable before the mobile devices and Wi-Fi became almost omnipresent? Yes, it was possible, but a lot more difficult. There’s, in fact, no general solution for remote management. It just depends on the period you’ll be spending managing and how much supervision your team needs. Here are some successful solutions used by companies:
Video Conferencing Technology: A custom video portal was the essential tool which gave FourSquare the opportunity to broaden their business to a second location, across the country. Because the social network’s video conferencing technology is always running, a remote manager could take into consideration setting office hours.
Project Management Software: If we deal with teams that have to work remotely for a long period of time, a cloud-based project management software solution can be vital to integrate communications and to keep track of team progress.
Consider an Internal Wiki: Consider the fact that documentation is only productive if your coworkers can quickly have access to the answers. Internal wikis are becoming more and more popular among many businesses that have recently begun operation, as a means for employees to quickly search for answers. This tactic is presently used at LKR Social Media, Buffer and some other high-tech companies.
- Over Communicate
While working in a traditional office setting, it’s simple to straighten out mixed or confusing messages. In case you get a confusing email or chat message from a colleague, you can receive an answer to the question asked by simply walking over to their workstation. When you deal with remote management, especially if you’re in different time zones, you can’t always get a quick clarification. Think about the fact that you won’t be very appreciated if you’ll ask your team to get up at 3 am to work on the same schedule. Therefore, it’s best to get accustomed with the habit of excessively clear communication. Writing an adequate email takes some skills and it certainly doesn’t contain many emoticons. Elsevier University recommends you to use the following tactics for effective and clear email communications while working remotely:
Establish the purpose of the email before you begin writing.
Explain any critical components
Include detailed email subject lines
Maintain a professional and technical tone
Reply to every email, even just with a simple “thank you.”
Explain and address the purpose of any attachments
Avoid abbreviations or emoticons
- Trust and Review
Chris Sugai, CEO of Niner Bikes, has a very relaxed attitude towards how closely he likes to oversee the work of his employees, located both in the US and overseas. “Our requirement is that the work gets done accordingly.” This implies that Sugai has chosen not to micromanage and works, most of the times, from his homes in Las Vegas and Wyoming. Employees hours aren’t traced, but all of his employees have to pass an annual review.
One might think that the decision to place so much trust in your staff is risky, but it can be a way to dedicate more time to strategies and meetings while being on the road. This kind of permissive approach can be successful only if expectations have been completely defined in advance and in case all employees have the resources needed to perform their job requirements.
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