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The Challenges of Leading Remote Teams

Environmental Psychologist and Wellbeing Consultant

The Challenges of Leading Remote Teams

Even before the very first lockdown in March 2020, remote teams were already a common part of working life. However, it wasn’t until the outbreak of COVD-19 and the pandemic that ensued that working beyond the four walls of the office became mandatory for a vast majority of workers across the UK. As a result of this, many businesses were caught by surprise and didn’t realise just how challenging this would be. 

Let’s face it, managing a remote team is more challenging than if everyone was in the same office, particularly when you want to conduct “business as usual” and ensure that your employees work in the same way, i.e. like they’re working toward the same goals.

The global crisis that has taken over the world over the course of the last year has changed the way we work, and will probably change the way we work forever. Working remotely will become the new norm, so understanding how best to manage this is paramount for all those in business, be they managing directors or team leaders. 

In today’s piece, we’re going to explore several of the most common challenges of leading remote teams, in addition to looking at strategies you can use to overcome the difficulties you may face.

The Most Common Challenges Faced By Those Leading Remote Teams 

#1 – Communication

As you might expect, communication is firmly at number one. Communication is absolutely critical for success. It’s vital to gather input for all team members to ensure you know exactly what each person is working on. However, when working remotely, communication isn’t anywhere near as easy as it is in the office. Email doesn’t lend itself well to rapid communication; therefore, it’s often hard to know how to ensure your team can communicate quickly and efficiently.

One way that remote teams are overcoming this difficulty is by creating dedicated spaces specifically for communication. Internal communication tools are perfect for this purpose. Regardless of which one you opt for, provided that you promote two-way communication, employees working remotely won’t feel isolated from each other.

#2 – Building Trust

Another key element of remote working (and business in general for that matter), is trust. Building trust is a challenging task for team leaders and team members, that’s for sure. The former will be wondering whether or not team members are working enough and completing work, whereas the latter will be unsure whether or not they’ll be paid on time or whether they’re still valued as highly. 

Being transparent is the quickest and best way to solve this issue and will build trust across the board. To do this, it’s always best to transparent about pay rate, payment timelines, expectations, and status updates. Honestly is always the best policy, regardless of who you’re dealing with. If everyone knows where they’re at and what is expected of them (and is updated regularly on these), trust will soon be built.

#3 – Productivity

Knowing how much work your remote team is accomplishing and what rate is essential, yet it can often be difficult assessing this when working remotely. It’s challenging to figure out if someone is not pulling their weight or is being underutilised if you’re unsure how productive they are. 

For these reasons, tracking productivity is extremely important. Setting up metrics for the quantity of work expected to be completed each working day is one way to this. When setting such metrics, be as specific as you can and ask team members their thoughts on the proposed metrics and work levels. 

#4 – Scheduling

Scheduling a phone or video call can be challenging, particularly for teams in different time zones and independent contractors with varied working schedules. Therefore, it is crucial to find a time that works well for all involved, trying to accommodate everyone as best as you possibly can. There is a wide array of online tools that can be used for this purpose, so find the one that works best for your business and go from there. Scheduling can be a nightmare, but with adequate planning and a little flexibility, it’s relatively straightforward to schedule virtual meetings with few hiccups.