How to navigate challenges when leading a remote team

With the rise of hybrid and remote working patterns, team leaders and managers face a new set of challenges when it comes to achieving their goals.

While remote working has a range of benefits both for employees and employers, it does present operational hurdles that need to be addressed. As well as difficulties in ensuring consistent reliable access and collaboration for teams that may be dispersed across locations and time zones, there are a lot fewer immediately tangible issues that will need to be addressed.

Let’s explore some of the key challenges and see how they can be navigated.

Clear communications

Members of a remote team need to be on the same page. To do this, clear communication protocols need to be established and everyone should know how to use the tools they have available.

Ensuring people know how to communicate, and that this is as intuitive as possible to mirror an in-person working relationship, is all-important. In time, this can become second nature, but teething problems can occur, particularly when new team members are being on-boarded.

Focus on what your teams need to effectively communicate with each other and keep listening to the feedback you receive so that you can act upon it.

Develop a community

Remote team members can easily feel disconnected and isolated. This, in turn, can lead to broader issues in terms of their well-being, especially for those individuals who live alone or who don’t have a support system in place.

To address this, team leaders should look to develop a strong sense of community within the team. This can’t be done overnight and much will depend on how communication develops across your various team members.

A community can be fostered through regular, non-work, based communications, partnering relationships where two or more team members work more closely together, virtual team building and online socializing.

Create a plan for the above and monitor its progress.

Support collaboration

Remote working can present challenges when it comes to collaboration. The lack of physical proximity presents an extra barrier to collaborative working that will need to be creatively overcome.

Ensuring you have the right collaboration tools at hand, such as virtual conferencing platforms and project management software, is a prerequisite.

Opportunities should be provided for team members to work together on projects through virtual brainstorming sessions and group webinars. This is a great way to bring your teams together so that they are all working towards a common goal.

Establishing trust and transparency.

Establishing trust is important in any team but isn’t always straightforward. The challenge is compounded when teams are working remotely. Transparent decision-making processes, clear progress reports and attainable deadlines and goals, all help to build trust.

This is underpinned by open and honest communication, with team leaders following through on their commitments and swiftly addressing any issues that may arise.

Support and resources

Managing workloads and staying motivated can often be difficult for remote teams. It’s therefore crucial that remote team members are provided with a cohesive set of support and resources.

This might include training and development opportunities, flexible working arrangements, and access to other resources such as mental health support and counselling services.

With the right tools and leadership approach in place, remote working can help companies become more efficient and employees more productive. It just requires some strategic thinking, effective planning and proactive decision-making.

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