Smart Tips for Managing Your Remote Team

With more than 34% of the U.S. workforce considered freelance employees, and approximately 20-25% of the traditional workforce afforded the opportunity perform duties remotely, it is hard to challenge the growing trend of virtual work. In some instances, telecommuting is a necessity for workers when considering taking on a new job, as working away from a conventional office offers more flexibility in time management for both work responsibilities and life in general. For others, remote work is a way of life that rarely if ever requires leaving the comfort of a coffee shop or home office.


Although remote work is trending upward throughout the majority of industries around the globe, new challenges faced by remote team managers abound. To effectively manage a remote workforce, it is necessary to adapt to the unique circumstances inherent to virtual teams by following these important guidelines.

Maintain Communication

One of the biggest snares in managing a remote workforce is the lack of communication between management and workers because there is little to no face to face interaction. But, would you speak with onsite employees about project updates, new assignments or changes to policies or procedures? Of course! Just like with employees who work within the office, remote workers need to have lines of communication open and available to maintain connection with management teams and colleagues.

Scheduling routine conference calls with the entire team or having the occasional video call with individual team members are both smart ways to engage workers not only with the company but with the work they perform each and every day. Establishing an office hours schedule when remote employees can reach out directly to management is also beneficial in keeping communication available among virtual teams. When calls are not scheduled or video conferencing is not an ideal option, e-mail updates and internal messaging systems can be used to keep remote teams in the loop.

Find and Use the Right Technology

Technology-based tools can make or break a virtual team, which is why it is important for managers to find and utilize the best available tools. Messaging applications, such as Slack, client relationship managers, such as SalesForce, and task or project management tools, such as Asana, are an integral part of managing a remote team and its work over time. Similarly, finance software, and simple-to-use accounting and payroll management systems like this tool are the lynchpin to maintaining the necessary records for each virtual team member. Putting a combination of the right tools in place early, and changing those tools as the team grows and adapts, is critical to the long-term success of remote workers.

Encourage Innovation and Collaboration

Some argue that innovation is stifled by a virtual workforce, based on the theory that in-person brainstorming or collaboration is the best, fastest route to creating something new and worthwhile. However, there is no reason why remote teams cannot have the same success as onsite employees in the innovation department.

As a manager, it is up to you to make innovation part of the remote team’s work by encouraging the team to work together and collaborate on projects or tasks. Creating a virtual team room or internal team page allows team members to come together on their own time, outside of the confines of scheduled meetings and conference calls. Think of it as a virtual watercooler where remote workers have the opportunity to connect with one another on a deeper, but casual, level. The bond formed between remote works often leads to innovation and stronger collaboration on work-related projects and tasks.

Set Expectations Early

A remote team requires direction and purpose just as onsite employees do. The virtual team manage is tasked with setting expectations for the team and each individual worker while also providing clear direction on how to achieve the objectives set out within those expectations. The sooner a roadmap is developed and shared with a remote team, the sooner everyone can get to work in a meaningful, productive way.

Not all remote teams have the same task or purpose, but managing a virtual workforce is similar across the board. It begins with creating effective communication lines and maintaining a degree of availability for team members, followed closely by selecting and using the right technology and tools. Remote team managers must also create a virtual environment where innovation and collaboration is encouraged, while also setting expectations for team members. Putting these steps into practice ensures a virtual team that is connected, informed and armed for success.