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From the perspective of the entrepreneur that works at home, it is that combination of freedom to work at your own pace, but also, the threat of isolation rooms large. Whether you are dealing with mundane business tasks or snowed under with exciting duties, remote working can get to the best of us. What happens when it’s not just managing your own workload, but you are managing a whole group of other people? When a business expands, budgets need to be considered, working patterns, and keeping employees happy. But when remote working is the only opportunity for every single member of staff, it’s a challenge that only they have to face up to, but you have to ensure that you are running a tight ship as if everybody was in the same room. How can you get your head around managing a large group of people that work remotely?
Consider the financial implications
A lot of people choose to work remotely because it’s cheaper, and when you have a group of staff that you want to work from the comfort of their own home to remember that it’s not always the cheapest option. What happens when we start to consider the overall expenses of working at home, there are other components that might bump up our outgoings. Look at somebody like the manufacturing industry, when you take into account the cost of capital manufacturing, it’s everybody under one roof, and the cost of the product itself is going to increase due to various economic demands. When you think about the economic demands in conjunction with the needs of the workforce, sometimes it’s cheaper to set up an office. But there are ways to ensure that your core group of people can work remotely just as long as you have an eye on the budget. When it comes to working remotely, it’s about ensuring the tech is up to speed. Investing in the right server is crucial. There are financial implications, and we can’t always think that remote working is the cheapest option.
Getting over those time barriers
Remote working can highlight vast differences common not just culture but in terms of the time barrier. When we work with clients or have employees in another timezone, the differences can have a major impact on the overall productivity. Different time zones can compound issues, especially in relation to communication. It is very difficult, but there are ways to manage remote employees in different time zones. But this is all about you delegating to the appropriate workers. It’s important to remember that you can’t take it all on yourself (unless you stay awake 24/7)! We live in a 24/7 culture, and this means that we’ve got to work at ways of distributing our work effectively. Working across different time zones can highlight numerous flaws in our plan.
Setting the appropriate boundaries
One of the best practices to manage a remote team effectively is to set boundaries. The biggest issue where every worker has when they don’t go into an office is the sensation of feeling united as a team. As well as trying to manage people when they have to function under their own steam can be difficult. It’s important that we set boundaries, and discuss work schedules with each individual team member. At the same time, we have to respect their work-life balance. If an employee is constantly on an email, or work in different time zones, messaging them at 11 o’clock at night isn’t conducive to their productivity or morale. But there are things you can do to ensure that they check in, and stick to a certain schedule. But you have to respect their time, because if you give them or duties than they can cope with, this won’t benefit in this culture in the long run. At the same time, you have to set boundaries for yourself. The temptation to fire off a little email late at night can, time swamp you with information, and it eats into your downtime. Ultimately this is your choice, but if you want to lead by example, and help others to work effectively, you need to set some sort of boundary within yourself.
Investing in the right communication methods
Communication is crucial, regardless of the environment, and when you work with others dotted across the planet, this becomes an even more essential component. Online communication is completely different from communicating in person, and the goal is to blur the boundaries. It’s pointless sending email after email when you have employees that work in a different time zone and won’t get the email for another 12 hours. As well as this, you need to use the right collaboration tools. In one respect, it’s about putting across your personality, and if you spend a long time drafting an email, and then have to follow it up with another few, this doesn’t just waste your time, but it wastes theirs. Perhaps a video message will work better? Remember it’s not just what we have to communicate, but it’s how we do it. One of the main aspects of online communication is being short and to the point. We don’t want to confuse members of our team with pointless emails, that will only serve to stress that even more. One of the biggest issues in terms of managing remote teams is to minimize their stress because they could feel out of the loop.
Ensuring that everybody feels part of the same team
When people feel out of the loop, anxieties can increase. Somebody sat at home in their kitchen not knowing what’s going on can naturally start to have negative thoughts run away from them. Communication is crucial, especially in terms of every move you make but you also need to start making your team feel like a team. One of the main ways to help people feel like a team is to encourage collaboration. It’s one of the most important aspects of any business, and it can be a big issue in terms of working remotely. But if you get it right, it works to improve the overall sensation that employees feel part of a team despite where they work. You can do this in other ways, like setting up a message board or forum online, so people can feel inclined to share aspects of their work or ask for help. When we feel united, collaboration will naturally follow.
Get into the right rhythm
Despite timezone issues and cultural differences, we have to remember that we need to follow a set pattern. This means that we’ve got to find ways to get into the right rhythm. Meetings are important, and it’s all dependent on the size of the team. You need to have regular meetings with each team, but you need a meeting for the entire business. It means you’ve got to set something in stone so everybody can log on. You can set up a daily meeting with each team, for everyone to check in, and it only needs to be about 10 minutes. As well as this, you can then start to implement weekly meetings with a team leader or delegates, and then the entire company can have a meeting. But this doesn’t have to be a long one either, 10 minutes is more than enough for everybody to feel like they’re on the same page. And on top of this, a project management system needs to be in place, as well as this, everybody needs to know how to use it. Collaboration is great and can work wonders when done right, but it’s about putting that structure in place.
Improving the workplace culture
And when you manage a group of people remotely, the hardest parts of getting everyone to feel like they are on the same page is implementing a culture that helps everyone to work together for the sake of the business. Working remotely makes it more difficult to get to know everybody on an individual basis but it’s crucial that you do this. You can learn about people just by having a little discussion on occasion, so you get to know a little bit about who they are. You don’t need to drill deep, because you are looking to grow a positive culture, not a negative one. Encouraging employees to develop is not just about providing the right perks, it’s about helping people feel that they are supported in your business. By working on the culture, and making it a nurturing environment despite the fact that people are, technically, isolated, helps to create a business that’s not just bringing in profit, but it helps everyone to heal and grow. This is incredibly difficult when we work in a remote fashion.
Remote working is becoming a major trend, and this is predominantly a way to reduce expenses, but if you do it right working can help to build a brand but form an organization that still feels like a cohesive entity. And this is something that you need to get your head around, and not treat it as if it’s an office. So many people are embracing the work-at-home ethic, and this means, if you do it well, your business can improve.