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How to Overcome the Challenges of Managing Remote & Distributed Teams

The benefits of a remote workforce are clear. You get to tap from a geographically distant talent that would have been previously unavailable, save commute time and is a kind of benefits package that attracts and retains top talent.  

Yet, critics have growing concerns that employee welfare and productivity may tank when businesses adopt a remote work system.  

Of course, remote working models are not uniform and vary depending on your company’s needs and specifics. And while a remote workforce can benefit businesses and employees, it also presents challenges 

We wade into the remote work discussion to share practical tips on overcoming the challenges of managing remote teams.

Challenges of Managing Remote Teams & How to Overcome Them

1. Establishing team communication goals

Teams subjected to sitting, working, and communicating in shared physical spaces will find the immediate change in daily work challenging or isolating.

While digital communication cannot replace team-member interaction, there are ways to mitigate the drastic shift in working styles.   

Establish working hours and account for time zone differences. Remember that working from home is difficult for some people, and setting clear expectations and routines will help your employees adjust.

If employees require flexibility, ensure that they make arrangements ahead of time.  

2. Selecting software that is available globally

As soon as your remote team has internet access, ensure they can collaborate with the team on remote platforms.

It is easy for a remote team to overlook that not all software and web services are available globally – primarily when based in the same country.

However, if you have team members from different countries, look for globally available platforms. Examples like Groove, Slack, Microsoft Teams, G Suite, or World Time Buddy can prove helpful in managing an international team.    

3. Developing a daily personal routine

Discuss how your remote team members manage their personal lives while remaining flexible to meet their day-to-day responsibilities. Set daily check-in and check-out times. Even with established morning routines, starting the day with specific expectations helps to paint a clearer picture of the day ahead.   

In addition, these tag-ups ensure consistent communication between team members and managers and the preservation of in-person relationships formed while working from Nigeria.

4. Becoming flexible

Managing a remote international team is not always easy. Furthermore, flexibility in some roles may be more difficult (contact centre staff, for example).

That is not to say you should micromanage your remote workforce. Allow your team, for example, to work at times convenient for them.

Set reasonable deadlines for tasks and ask your team to stick to them. Flexibility is essential for employees and also for remote team managers.

5. Maintaining data security and ensuring access to information

Maintaining data security and ensuring access to information

Remote teams must safeguard sensitive corporate data; this includes working with IT professionals to ensure virus software is up-to-date, and firewalls are installed.

Consider holding training sessions for storing documents, sharing files, and creating strong passwords to help team members understand the importance of data security.

It’s a good idea to make a data security policy for how company devices are used. A typical data security policy requires that company devices be password protected and secure when used in shared spaces.   

Also, keep the information in a location where everyone can get to it. Create handbooks that include everything an employee needs to know to work in your company, including software development practices.

When working remotely, you cannot be as reliant on others as you would be in an office setting; therefore, it is critical to ensure that information is easily accessible.

6. Accepting cultural differences and points of view

To manage an international team with diverse perspectives and attitudes toward work, the entire company must embrace cultural differences rather than attempt to mould people to fit a way of working and thinking.   

You may end up managing employees from different cultures in Nigeria. Being culturally sensitive entails deciding on a language to use during interactions.

You will also need to invest in learning your employees’ communication styles and how they perceive punctuality. You must be willing to accept different cultures while remaining true to your company’s culture.   

7. Minimizing and utilizing meetings  

It can be challenging to schedule meetings and keep communication flowing in a global company with employees in different time zones.

Therefore, use all available communication methods, such as chat, to make communication as straightforward as possible and to avoid scheduling too many meetings.   

While you do not want to have too many meetings, weekly meetings with your remote team are recommended. You can use this time to discuss areas where assistance is needed, but perhaps more importantly, you can use the meeting to bond as a team.

One approach is to spend the first few minutes sharing personal news before discussing what team members are working on and how the week is going.

Remote work is beneficial but comes with its challenges. However, preparing to solve the challenges of managing remote teams makes for a great remote work experience that significantly boosts team productivity and the bottom line.   

Do you need help hiring, paying or managing remote teams across Africa? Then schedule a consultation today; let’s help you succeed.