Spoiler alert: one key to effectively managing a remote team is a comprehensive enterprise project management tool or platform.
But it does take more than that.
Whether your business runs with 3 people, or 100, managing your team’s time, priorities and overall efficiency is crucial to booking more clients and making more money. After all, at the end of the day, your team should be focusing on the client work at hand, and not trying to navigate all the technological challenges that come with working remotely, right?
We understand the unique challenges that come with remote teammates, and we’ve outlined 15 tips to manage and grow your top-notch team – wherever they may be.
What Exactly Is Enterprise Project Management (EPM)?
First, let’s back up a bit.
To ensure we’re all on the same page, I want to define what enterprise project management means. In a nutshell, EPM refers to the overall communication, work and information systems that allows your business to run.
In other words, it is the 360-degree view of your company’s total efforts. Enterprise management answers the following questions:
- What makes your company tick?
- How do you and your team execute tasks every day?
- How do you track the projects and work your team is doing?
Generally, your EPM runs with the help of a variety of digital tools. For example, time tracking apps, meeting schedulers and messaging software so you can communicate as a team.
Now, let’s explore those specific tips to help you and your team run more efficiently.
1. Don’t Be Afraid to Over-Communicate
If you take just one thing from this entire blog post – let it be this! With all the challenges of remote work – zero face-to-face time, increased chances of misinterpreted emails or instant messages, etc – you can rarely communicate too much with your teams.
Either opt for a comprehensive software system that has a built-in collaboration platform and messaging functionality or utilize something simple like Skype or Slack to have a place to facilitate those small side conversations when working on projects.
2. Get Yourself a Kickass Project Management System
Staying organized will benefit your team big time. Don’t require your team to login to numerous websites and accounts to figure out when their next deadlines are due and what’s expected of them that week.
Invest in a comprehensive online project management system that lets your team track the status of tasks, monitor progress on a project and view upcoming deadlines – all in one place.
3. Follow Up with Your Teammates. And Then Follow Up Again.
Don’t assume that everything is going smoothly simply because you haven’t heard from your teammates recently. Check in with them frequently, if even just to say hello or commend them for crushing that last project.
Set a calendar reminder to check in with your team 1-2 times per week. One tough thing to monitor remotely is stress level – so ask how their workload is, and what they need in order to do their job better.
4. Remain Flexible – Even When It’s Hard
Work – especially with a remote team – is all about loosening the reins a bit. Sometimes the unexpected happens in life and it’s important to be supportive of the obstacles in your teams’ lives, even if it’s super inconvenient for you.
Striking the balance between caring and letting anything go can be tough. You can start by giving your remote team the option to work whenever works best for them – as long as they still hit deadlines and attend important meetings.
5. Implement Time Trackers
Whether or not you take my advice from #4, it’s vital to know where your team’s time is being spent. Is it on important tasks, or mundane things that could potentially be subbed out to a contractor, or better, automated?
Take the guesswork out of where your team’s workday has gone, asap. Implement an enterprise project management system that has time tracking capabilities, reminding your team members that it’s less about tracking their every move and more about being efficient.
6. Get Crystal Clear on Deadlines
There’s nothing more frustrating for someone than trying to guess what’s expected of them and by when – and this is amplified when you don’t have face time with your team.
Make sure every work-related deadline is clearly outlined and accessible to every team member by creating deadlines for every part of your business – from brainstorming sessions to team meetings.
It may seem like overkill, but those last points are the things that might get overlooked when everyone’s not in the same room together.
7. Take the Guessing Game Out of Task Ownership
Going off of the point above, the best way to take the guesswork out of task ownership is to clearly define WHAT is being expected of WHO and WHEN. Set your team up for success by being super clear with your expectations and by always assigning a task to a specific person.
If possible, assign it to only one person, rather than several, to avoid “I thought they were doing it” on the assignment’s due date.
I like to do this with a Gantt chart tool so that each person can see where collaboration happens and how they are impacting the overall project.
8. Be Consistent, Always
Keep virtual meeting times and work deadlines on the same day each week or month – or at the same intervals – to avoid any confusion with your team.
Take it one step further and set a calendar reminder for yourself to update your team’s task schedule and/or meeting schedule at least one month in advance, to ensure everyone has enough time to prepare accordingly.
This leads to your teammates respecting and trusting you. Plus, they’ll appreciate the advance notice on deadlines.
9. Hire Quality People and Pay Them Accordingly
The secret to having a rockstar team starts with a relatively simple thought: if you want quality, experienced people, you need to pay them what they’re worth.
It’s as simple as that.
We all know “you get what you pay for,” and hiring stellar team members is no exception. So, do your diligence when hiring both employees and freelancers. Specifically ask if they’ve ever worked remotely before, and if not, how they can prove their excellent time management and communication skills to you.
10. Don’t Skimp on Your Onboarding Process
You can’t control someone’s past work situation, but you can help set them up for success in the future.
Onboarding remotely can be particularly challenging, but you definitely want to take the time to do it well. Think of the things you would want to be equipped with when starting a new virtual position and provide your team with as much helpful information as possible.
Use video tutorials explaining your process for executing particular tasks, complete with word docs or PDFs of SOPs. Have them screen share and “shadow” a colleague, or even fly them to you for a few days to ensure they start with the right foot forward.
11. Offer More Than One Way to Communicate
I’m sure you’ve noticed that there is a trend of good communication in this post.
But remember, not everyone responds to the same type of communication methods. Some people prefer email communication, while others feel more in the loop with instant messages throughout the workday. While you don’t need to cater to everyone’s specific preferences, be sure to offer more than one form of communication for your team.
Consider using an enterprise project management system that offers a variety of collaboration tools and communication methods, such as task reminders, automated emails or a commenting functionality on tasks.
12. Gain an Understanding of Your Teammates’ Work Goals
Having an understanding of what your teammates work goals are will benefit you both, regardless of whether they are working from the same coworking space as you or sitting halfway across the world.
For example, knowing whether someone is looking for strictly part-time work vs. someone aspiring to grow to a senior management level position on your team is key when it’s time to scale your operations to the next level.
Touch base with teammates at least every 6 months. It’s much easier to tweak someone’s workload according to their needs than it is to find a new employee after a disgruntled team member quits.
13. Set Expectations from the Start
Parallel to understanding your team members’ goals, is being clear about your own work expectations.
Are you looking for short-term, part-time help? Or are you seeking a long-term, full-time employee? Don’t make the mistake of being vague about your work needs or expectations.
Before hiring someone, be sure your job posting and interview questions are super specific about the length of the position, approximate hours needed and other important details.
14. Be Accessible to the Team
Your team needs to feel like they’re supported by you, and being accessible is a huge part of this. Make sure you’re responsive to team emails and questions as they arise each week.
As each person onboards, let them know the specific ways they can reach you. This may include via instant messenger, email, or within the comments section of your enterprise project management system.
It doesn’t matter so much how you communicate, as long as it happens.
15. Listen to Your Team Members’ Challenges
With all the communication that you’ll be putting in place, don’t ignore your team’s complaints.
A listened-to team member feels valued and generally more appreciated. Building a remote workflow that works for you might take some trial and error. So, if your team is complaining about certain work procedures, make sure they’re heard and take the initiative to look into their concerns.
Consider creating an editable word doc on your company’s Google Drive for people to raise concerns or ask questions.
Although managing a remote team can feel super overwhelming sometimes, it doesn’t have to be a struggle. By implementing the appropriate digital tools your team needs to thrive, you’ll be communicating easier and getting tasks done more smoothly in no time.
I seriously recommend investing in an enterprise project management system that understands your team’s needs and makes your work life simpler. We built Spera’s system to offer end-to-end project management for independents and teams, enabling time tracking, project management and real-time collaboration, no matter where you are.