CEO The 4th Office
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Five tools to manage a remote team

27th May 2015
CEO The 4th Office
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Work out of the office? Bostjan Bregar has yet more great advice for remote teams.

Remote working can have benefits to both employees and employers, creating a happier team who enjoy a better work life balance, which in turn can increase productivity and flexibility for both parties. Managing remote workers can seem like a daunting task, however, with the fact that they’re not in the same office leaving managers feeling out of control. This doesn’t have to be the case – with proper systems in place and trust between staff and head office, remote working could be just the thing your business needs.

Time management - measure outputs not activity

The beauty of working from home for many people is that activity can be carried out at a time to suit and when a person’s feeling most productive. With this in mind, a team should be managed based on their outputs – completing tasks within an agreed timeframe.

Don’t get bogged down worrying what they’re doing at home, focus on their input and contribution to wider company objectives. It doesn’t matter when they’re ‘working’, as long as they are doing the job and are available when they should be. Time management apps, such as Freckle, can be really useful here, allowing people to log their activity, with stopwatch functions for accuracy.

Face-to-face communication – physically and using VoIP

It’s important to keep talking to your team and setting aside time to meet them face-to-face in the office – a regular scheduled staff meeting is a good way of making sure everyone’s on the same page as well as airing any issues and problems, while helping people to feel part of the company culture. In between meetings, or if catching up physically isn’t possible, VoIP tools like Skype allow a more personal way of communicating.

The telephone

Following on from the point above, emails are not enough as a communication tool. Email was never designed for real-time conversations and now we all get too many they can simply become a major distraction, with important messages ignored. Managing email better is certainly helpful, but if something really is so important that it needs actioning straight away, a phone call is better.

Shared calendars

Remote workers can often feel left out; they might call the office to talk to their manager only to find he or she’s at a meeting they knew nothing about – it’s easy for people to end up out of the loop if you don’t see them every day. Make sure remote workers, and all staff for that matter, are aware of each other’s movements; a shared calendar is a must.

Shared workspace

Remote working is easier than ever before thanks to the internet, the cloud and the flexibility and access to information that it gives us. A key tool for any company looking to go down this route is using cloud-based workspaces, where everyone, wherever they are, can log into the same space and access whatever they need to collaborate in real time without missing things by bouncing emails back and forth.

Don’t be afraid of remote working, if handled correctly it makes for a happier, more productive team and for would-be employees, your company will be a very appealing place to work. Trust and empowerment are key to getting the best out of people and allowing staff to work from home is a great way to create this kind of culture in your business.

Bostjan Bregar is the co-founder and CEO of The 4th Office, a structured cloud workspace that enables teams to collaborate remotely

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