Working Remotely Best Practices: 7 Key Tips

Remote work has a lot of benefits, but it also comes with a lot of challenges as well. Remote team management is far from easy. In this blog post, we will help with that by going over some working remotely best practices to help make managing a remote team easier.

Team Management

To say that 2020 has been tough on all of us is the understatement of the year. During these crazy times, workplaces have had to adjust to keep employees safe and follow various health and safety guidelines. Probably the most significant adjustment workplaces have seen the shift to working from home. Hello, remote teams!

A common misconception is that the switch to remote working will lead to a lack of productivity. If employees aren’t in the office under the watchful eye of their manager, then they’ll be taking mid-day naps and 2-hour lunches, right?

Wrong - both employees and employers alike say that the opposite is true. As a matter of fact 77% of employees have reported an increase in productivity when working remotely

Both employers and employees alike are now seeing just how beneficial a work from home option can be, with many companies shifting to full-time remote or offering flexible work solutions indefinitely. With this being the case, it’s essential to have a plan to ensure that the remote working experience will be successful—both in the immediate future and long term. In this blog post, we will help with that by going over some working remotely best practices to help make managing a remote team easier.

Here’s what we’re covering:

  • Accommodate flexible schedules
  • Set clear expectations and goals
  • Trust your team
  • Make communication a priority
  • Provide feedback
  • Put the right collaborative tools in place
  • Build a remote team culture

Let’s get to it!

1. Accommodate Flexible Schedules

One of the benefits that many employees find attractive about working from home is the ability to work different hours than the traditional 9-5. Life can get pretty crazy, and remote working provides employees with an opportunity to create a more flexible work schedule. Giving employees time and space can help them better manage their tasks (both personal and professional). This flexibility gives them the chance to create a better work-life balance.

When managing remote workers it’s important to take this into consideration. Yes, you should have a concrete plan and goals in place, but whether your employees decide to complete their work early in the morning or in the evening may not be a deal breaker. This is especially true when employees are spread out over multiple time zones.

Talk with your employees to see what sort of schedule works best for them, and see if there’s a solid middle ground. Digging in deep into your employees and departments’ specific workstyles can help you provide a better structure and the best tools for them to find success. More often than not, most of your employees will still continue to work standard hours even in a remote setting.

2. Set Clear Expectations and Goals

When employees work from home, they may struggle if they don’t have the discipline needed in order to get all of their work done in a timely manner—especially if they’ve never done it before. As a manager, one of the best practices for working from home that you can apply to make sure that this doesn't happen is setting clear expectations and goals for your employees. It’s important to set short term goals and expectations as opposed to only looking only at the long term. 

By doing this and constantly updating these short term goals and expectations, you will give your employees an understanding of what needs to be done on a weekly basis. 

Don’t smother them, but do make sure you’re checking in regularly.

3. Trust Your Team!

This is incredibly important if you hope to manage a successful remote team. No one likes to be micromanaged, and if you can't trust your team, it's likely that you’ll end up doing just that! Lucky for you, there are a few things that can be done to ensure that this doesn't happen. 

  • First and foremost, you need to have hiring practices in place to ensure that you're employing the right people that you can trust to do great work. 
  • In addition to that, it's super important to have effective onboarding and training in place for employees so that you can be confident that they have the know-how needed to be successful in their given position.
  • And then lastly, keep up with your quarterly and yearly performance reviews to ensure that your employees are hitting their goals.

Need help? Check out our free guide on conducting performance reviews.

4. Make Communication a Priority

Good communication is key to any successful workplace, but this is especially true when the workplace is remote. Without the face-to-face interaction that you get in the office, employees can often end up feeling disconnected and left without the communication and feedback necessary to succeed. 

There are a few simple remote work best practices to increase communication, so it feels like you're in the office and not your living room. 

  • Use an internal chat system - this allows for quick easy communication between team members, and also makes it so you can chat in groups which is especially useful when multiple team members are working on projects together.
  • Hop on a video call - this is a great substitute to actually seeing your employees face-to-face. Having regular calls is a great way to check in with employees on their progress and provide assistance when needed. Not only that, but team video calls can also be a great way to boost team spirit.
  • Engage in non-work conversations - what you miss in the remote working world is what many refer to as ‘cooler talk’. Those small but bonding conversations that happen between work. Try and set up time to chit chat and actually check in on your teammates! This will help to build up trust, which in turn fosters better communication.

Our latest blog on remote work tools can help you choose the best tools for your team. Check it out here.

5. Provide Feedback

Earlier in the blog we talked about the importance of setting expectations and goals—equally as important is following up with employees on these goals and providing feedback on how to achieve them. Feedback should be provided regularly, which can be tough when you're not in the office together. 

A good solution is to schedule weekly one-on-one meetings where this can be done. And feedback goes both ways! Managers should also be asking their employees how they can better serve them, remove roadblocks, assist with their growth, and so on. 

6. Put The Right Collaborative Tools In Place

Collaboration is key to the success of any team, but this can be tough when you're not in the office with your co-workers. The simple things like popping into a meeting or just stopping by your co-workers desk to work together on a project are no longer possible. We’ve got some team collaboration best practices you can follow. The first being, invest in the right tools!

It’s so important that collaborative tools are in place to make up for these things and ensure that there is remote team collaboration. Here’s a few our remote working pros at Superside recommend.

Communication tools:

  • Slack - great for instant messaging, file sharing and quick video calls
  • Loom - replace long emails with quick video recordings
  • Google Hangouts - free video conferencing in Google’s G Suite
  • Zoom - free, recordable video conferencing for enterprise
  • GoToMeeting - video conferencing, desktop sharing and meetings
  • Workplace - similar to Slack, coming to you from Facebook
  • Rocket Chat - open source, workstream collaboration and customer engagement

Task management and collaboration tools:

  • - project and workflow management for teams
  • Asana - easily plan and manage projects from start to finish
  • Trello - similar to Asana, use boards, cards and more to organize and prioritize projects
  • Google Suite - suite of tools, such as Hangouts, Sheets, Docs, Drive space and much more
  • Flock - hybrid of messaging tool and project management
  • Jira - tool for development teams that helps plan, track, and release software
  • Github - similar to Jira, open source or business development platform

7. Build a Remote Team Culture

Remote work is great, but one of the things that can be sorely lacking is the ability to form meaningful bonds with your teammates. Many friendships are born in the workplace, so it can be tough to build comradery when you're not actually seeing each other in person.

Luckily there are a few simple things that can be done to help build teamwork without ever having to be in the same room

  • You can create fun Slack channels where team members can chat about things completely unrelated to work
  • Schedule a weekly team zoom call where team members can bond and even share a beer or beverage together
  • Play virtual games together, like Kahoot!
  • Give employees food delivery credits so they can have departmental lunches 1x a month

What Now?

Remote work has a lot of amazing benefits, but as many of us have found out over the past year it also comes with a lot of challenges as well. Remote team management is far from easy. Thankfully, if your team has the ability to meet these challenges head on by implementing some simple practices, things should be running smoothly in no time. 

By taking into account and using the tips and tricks outlined in this blog managers can help ensure that their remote team feels like they never left the office.

And hey, if you want to make remote team payroll also run smoothly, we’ve got you covered. Learn more about Knit’s easy payroll here

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