Management

100+ Managers Share Their Best Advice for Managing Remote Teams

How do you manage a remote team? We asked 100+ managers to share their best advice for managing plans, priorities, execution when your team is remote.

Elise Dopson Elise Dopson on April 20, 2020 (last modified on April 27, 2020) • 33 minute read

The current health crisis has resulted in more companies working remotely, basically overnight.

However, even before the current situation companies now find themselves in, a fair amount of companies we surveyed we already working remotely anyways.

According to our survey of more than 200 companies, roughly 37% of them said 100% of their team already works remotely.

And 34% of respondents had at least 3-5 years of experience in managing remote teams. Another 21% have 6-10 years of experience, while 14% have 10+ years of experience.

Collectively, that’s a lot of experience in managing remote teams. Naturally, we wanted to know their best advice for managing plans, priorities, and execution when your team is working from various locations.

How to Manage a Remote Team

Whether you’re currently working remotely due to factors outside of your control, already have been working remotely and/or plan to continue doing so moving forward, we wanted to collect insights from those that have already been doing it to help the rest of us.

So, we asked over 100 remote managers to share their best tips. Those include:

  1. Schedule 1:1s with remote staff
  2. Talk about something other than work
  3. Use video as often as possible
  4. Use screen-sharing videos for tutorials
  5. Plan remote team-building exercises
  6. Respect their differences
  7. Lean on your collaboration software
  8. Trust your newly-remote team
  9. Set guidelines for communication
  10. Rely on processes and systems
  11. Make sure their equipment is WFH-friendly
  12. Show reports and data using visual graphics
  13. Hire the right people

1. Schedule consistent 1:1s with remote staff

According to Arc‘s Weiting Liu, the first thing to do when managing staff who are working from home is to “take the pulse of the team by having consistent 1:1s with all remote team members.”

“Here’s how to do them right: Set a regular cadence (weekly or biweekly) and stick to it. Be sure that video is on for both people to really connect. Ask the teammate to write the agenda using a shared doc (for notes and action items). And prep a few open-ended questions you can ask to uncover blockers you can help remove or areas where you can provide more clarity.”

PortMA‘s Chris Clegg says these regular 1:1:s are important because “being remote requires a higher level of accountability. Develop checklists or processes for communicating what you are going to work on and what you’ve done.”

Charlène Guicheron of Kreezalid adds: “During these calls, you go through tasks and goals. In between the calls, you give people the freedom to execute their tasks without having to constantly be in touch with you.”

“This way, you give them true ownership of their tasks and you show them you trust them while having a clear system for reporting back.”

“The calls shouldn’t be more than 15 to 30 minutes each. Now, these calls don’t remove the need for group calls, but instead, they let you connect with your team and stay on top of things,” Guicheron says.

G2‘s Amy Lecza makes this a priority by using “a rotating list of team members to “check-in” on virtually – either sending a simple “how are you holding up?” Slack message, sending a link or song I think they’d enjoy or scheduling a morning “virtual coffee meeting.”

“This is something I learned from mentors and previous leaders that I felt very strongly about continuing. The personal check-ins mean a lot to both parties involved.”

Andrew Taylor of Net Lawman summarizes: “You need to provide the opportunity for one on one conversation with each of your workers. Don’t leave it up to them, it is your duty to make contact with them. Individually, not just through group conversations.”

2. Talk about something other than work

“Communication is more critical than ever,” Sure Oak‘s Andea Schultz says. “Checking in on how their day is, what’s on their agenda, how they are doing, just to say hi, etc. are more important than before.”

That’s why Dan Moyle of Impulse Creative thinks “the biggest thing is fostering a culture of connection.”

“We use a pretty simple tool in our Slack communications called Donut. The idea is that every two weeks, Donut pairs people together randomly to have “coffee and a donut” with no project agenda. Take 30 minutes to get to know your colleagues with a video chat. This builds trust, which fosters collaboration and productivity.”

Juli Durante adds: “Unstructured time could be as easy as taking the first 10 minutes of your weekly team meeting to chat casually or play a game. A monthly remote happy hour is also a great way to connect. If you can’t get to know your team as real, actual humans, you’re going to have an incredibly difficult time managing them.”

In fact, ChartMogul‘s Ilia Markov thinks this is crucial: “I can’t stress how important it is to overcommunicate is in a remote environment — especially if it’s your first try at it. In an office environment, there are so many small cues, etc. that you take for granted that doesn’t exist when Slack is your main method of communication.”

Michael Ellis of Team Building explains: “You can do this team building via video chats that include engagement methods like icebreakers and breakout rooms, 1-on-1 calls between team members where the only guideline is “no talking about work”, and similar.”

As Famoid‘s Makensie Thompson summarizes: “Make sure you keep the communication going. Just because you aren’t working in an office, it doesn’t mean you should be quiet.”

Related: 24 Slack Integrations That Teams Can’t Live Without

3. Use video as often as possible

You’ve made a pact to chat with your newly-remote team as much as possible. But some experts think you should be using video calls for that communication, rather than Slack or email.

Zety‘s Pete Sosnowski explains: “When discussing deeper or more nuanced topics, use phone and video conferencing to go into pertinent details. Things get lost in translation over text IMs so jump on the call or better yet a screen share to explain more intricate matters.”

“You’ll actually save everyone’s time and frustration, while your workers gain clarity on the next steps,” Sosnowski continues.

Ross Simmonds of Foundation Marketing adds: “It’s important that you use video calls and video voicemail (ie. Loom / Soapbox) to connect with your team on a more human level. Video offers the chance to see nuances that the written word doesn’t offer.”

Plus, Rain‘s Anastasia Iliou says: “It helps keep the company culture alive and helps everyone feel more connected. It’s hard to really feel like a team when you’re not speaking with everyone face-to-face, but modern technologies like Zoom make it much easier.”

And as Greg Linnemanstons of Weidert Group, Inc summarizes: “Because face-to-face handoffs are usually better than email, use video chat whenever possible for work handoffs.”

4. Giving a tutorial? Use screen-sharing videos rather than emails

Speaking of video, Sagapixel‘s Frank Olivo advises to “use video services like Soapbox whenever possible. Giving someone a video walkthrough of what you want done and how you want it done is so much more effective than an email or even video call.”

“To start, your team members can view it as many times as needed. Additionally, there’s no need to coordinate a time for a call or meeting; he or she can watch the video when it’s most convenient.”

“Finally, these assets can be reused to train other remote team members to do the same thing,” Olivo adds.

Julie Singh explains how they do this at TripOutside: “Video tools like Snagit and Loom are critical to our success and allow us to create videos from our computers with voice and screen “sharing” to show our screen and talk our team through what we need.”

“The videos are typically large, so we save them as shared documents in Google Drive, so the team can access them.”

Singh adds, “Videos are so helpful for explaining new projects, issues, and tasks as well as creating more meaningful connections to each team member.”

5. Plan remote team-building exercises

Did you know that 97% of employees and executives think a lack of alignment within a team impacts the outcome of a task or project?

“A simple way to make remote work more fun is to incorporate virtual team building activities,” according to Tasia Duske of Museum Hack.

“For example, you can do Spreadsheet Pixel Art competitions, which is a free game you can play by coloring in cells on Google Sheets. Another example of an online game you can play is Werewolf, which is kind of a simplified and rapid “murder mystery” game.”

“When you make time for fun, your people will respond positively.”

John Donnachie of ClydeBank Media agrees: “Remote working can be lonely and it is especially important during a crisis like the one we are experiencing to ensure that your team members don’t feel like they are contributing less or that because they are out of sight they are out of mind.”

6. Respect their differences

“A remote team, spread across time zones, has different tech setups, diverse communication styles, and varying degrees of comfort with visibility,” says Kristi Andrus of LUXICoach.com.

“Some will thrive while working from home, some will struggle, most will figure it out, but it may be a big adjustment. It might go smoothly too.”

That’s why Andrus advises to “respect them, respect their differences; recognize their commitment and contribution. Don’t make unreasonable requests, don’t ask them to always be on, or work around the clock. Don’t reward those who respond first or immediately or volunteer for anything and everything. Encourage balance and sustainability, and think long term.”

Erin Balsa of The Predictive Index explains: “A general best practice for managers is to tailor the way you communicate, give feedback, reward, and coach individuals based on their behavioral needs and preferences.”

“Right now with social distancing mandates in place, understanding your people is extra important. For example, if you know Connor is extremely extraverted, check in with him via Zoom more frequently to give him that face-to-face human contact he craves.”

“If your company strategy has radically changed and you know Melissa needs stability to feel safe, check in with her often and find ways to provide stability for her in spite of this uncertain environment,” Balsa adds.

7. Lean on your collaboration software

“Communication is probably the most essential part of successfully managed remote workers,” says Brosix‘s Nikola Baldikov. “Therefore, I would advise companies to not wait, but implement a communication/collaboration tool for their internal communication.”

“Such tools enable teams and individuals to stay connected, benefit from features such as text/audio/video chat, screen-sharing and file transfer, which undoubtedly increase productivity and efficiency.”

Indicative‘s Tara McQuaide agrees: “Our best productivity tip is to use a project management tool and cloud-based storage tools that update in real-time for everyone involved, mimicking an in-person interaction on a task.”

Andromeda Booth explains how they do this at Just After Midnight: “Use tools such as Sococo, Slack and Zoom or a simple traditional phone call to discuss ideas with other members of the team.”

“You can spend 2 hours stuck on a problem or solve it in 2 minutes after a quick chat with a colleague. You may be working from home, but you are still part of a team.”

Russell Michelson of Bead the Change adds: “The most effective tip for managing remote employees is to get them familiar with a quality CRM. CRM’s are the main hub for remote employees, telling them what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, who needs to do it, and other relevant information.”

“Ensuring your employees understand how to scan and operate your CRM can lead to productivity as you have never seen before. I have managed remote employees for almost 5 years, and I feel my employees are more productive when they have the freedom to work from home.”

Michelson isn’t alone. Almost half of our remote managers believe their team is most productive when they’re working outside the office:

This collaboration software isn’t just your CRM or project management tool, though. Brandon Amoroso of electrIQ marketing recommends “using services like Google Docs to collaborate on documents as a team. It’s helpful as you can work alongside each other in real-time.”

Related: 38 Digital Marketing Software Tools Top Agencies Recommend

8. Trust your team

“One effective tip I have for managing remote workers is to have trust in your team,” writes Matt Zajechowski of Digital Third Coast.

“You will not be able to see what they are doing, but you can still give them the information they need to succeed. Assign tasks, have regular check-ins and review their work based on pre-determined outcomes.”

Saurabh Jindal of Talk Travel agrees: “Do away with counting the number of hours worked and focus on the output and delivery than the number of hours input. This establishes an underlying trust and builds a stronger relationship and encourages a higher level of dedication from the employee.”

Maria Mora of Big Sea adds: “Don’t babysit them. People will be adjusting at home to a new work schedule, and many have kids at home. Create shared hours for a portion of the day for enhanced communication and collaboration and leave some flexibility during the rest of the day.”

“It will be obvious if an employee isn’t pulling his/her weight,” says Brian Barwig of Integrate Digital Marketing.

“If they aren’t checking slack messages, answering calls, emails, or providing check in’s to clients, then have a conversation with them. If those things are occurring, let it be. They are most likely working hard at home.”

However, Nick Gray of tiny campfire says: “Part of this trust is realizing that it is normal and expected that people will browse off to non-work corners of the internet. This behavior isn’t unique to remote work, and it happens at offices too.”

“It’s okay; if you give your people space to be people then they will give you quality work in return.”

9. Set guidelines for responding to messages

One of the trickiest things about working remotely is the fact things can get missed.

You don’t have the luxury of a casual chat at the watercooler, as Company Man Studios‘ Joe Fortunato explains: “Without the ability to walk across the office to ask a question or have a conversation with a coworker, normal projects can grind to a halt if emails/messages go unanswered.”

“Have your team turn on desktop notifications for emails, install messenger apps like Slack on their phones, and be sure they understand the importance of promptly responding to coworkers.”

SmartBug Media‘s Julia Tiedt agrees: “Ensure your team is clear as to what channels are used to communicate what and set expectations for when responses should be sent.”

Clare Richards of Leighton Interactive adds: “It can be incredibly challenging to remain productive and get things done in a timely manner when you’re constantly stalled by tracking people down for answers. In-person, this is as quick as swinging by their office.”

“When remote, the entire team needs to make a conscious effort to ramp up communication and become hyper available – whether that’s through a chat channel, phone, or email.”

Trivinia Barber shares what those guidelines look like for PriorityVA: “Factor in the myriad modes of communication — email, Slack, text message, phone call, video message, etc. — and it is downright overwhelming.:

“My best advice is to pick two to three channels and communicate your expectations around them.

Barber continues: “For example, use Slack for all internal communication and Zoom for virtual meetings. Advise that email be used with clients and third-party vendors only and that all employees be available for phone calls in case of an emergency.”

The team at ACTouch Technologies Pvt Ltd did this by sending the following message, Nityananda Rao says: “No monitoring of people working at home. We know that productivity will be down. So don’t worry.”

“We know that you will be disturbed by your kids and family members. Let them participate in the call. No problem. But please communicate with your team members. Don’t miss it.”

Lisamarie Monaco of InsuranceForBurial.com summarizes: “The best tip I would give to other remote teams is to be clear on what you expect from your team. Know what you need them to do on a daily basis to keep production going.”

Related: 8 Free SaaS Productivity Apps That Have Changed How I Work

10. Rely on your process documents and systems

When managing a remote team, Ryan Ruud of Lake One thinks you should “have a well documented operating procedure.”

“This is a great way to help familiarize new hires with how your organization operates and executes consistently. In an office setting – it’s easy to pop up and ask a question. Virtually, that’s not always possible. Standard operating procedures help give guidance on how the business handles key situations.”

This applies to the systems you’re using too, as Vince Massara of Your Fitness Radar explains: “Make sure you have systems in place. Granted, when you start you’ll have an idea of what a system will look like and then it’ll change as get more experience.”

“Regardless, make sure that your employees complete the same process regularly to avoid extra questions and wasted time,” Massara adds.

“It’s not the time to wing it,” seconds LUXI‘s Kristi Andrus. “There’s enough uncertainty in the world without ambiguity around team protocol and expectations. Adopt a project management system, like Asana, a communication channel, like Slack, and set up a recurring weekly webinar in Zoom.”

Andrus adds: “Then, keep it consistent. Don’t move meetings, don’t let deadlines slide, set hard stops on calls, use templates and guidelines to standardize processes, and please, for everyone’s sake, limit emails.”

Plus, Ian Kelly of NuLeaf Naturals thinks you should “always refine processes to make sure you’re focusing on the most leveraged task at any given time.”

“A lot of the time teams will be doing the easiest work instead of the most important work, and things that take a little more time to do get delayed when they should be taken care of early on for the best outcomes.”

11. Make sure their equipment is WHF-friendly

It’s simple: Your newly-remote team won’t be able to work from home if they don’t have the equipment to do so.

Alana Frazier has a three-step approach to making sure Essay4Students‘ team is able to: “Simple measures like preventing employees from viewing certain sites can have a significant impact on how well your network performs – or not.”

Check Its Parts: By this we mean check the hardware and software that keep the network functioning. Checking this on a regular basis – before a problem develops or is reported – allows you to diagnose problems early and fix them before they can affect your network’s functionality.”

Adapt to Usage Patterns: Network usage changes as companies evolve. This means the network must adapt to how employees/end users are utilizing it. For example, are there more mobile demands put on the system now than when it was first set up? Does this require some system upgrades?”

Practice Data Security: This should be done as a matter of course for obvious reasons. But, security improves network efficiency as well because it prevents misuse of a network’s resources. Simple measures like preventing employees from viewing certain sites can have a significant impact on how well your network performs – or not.”

Frazier explains: “For example, by disallowing access to sites that are not relevant to the workplace, you decrease the chance of your network being attacked by (unintentionally) downloaded viruses, spyware and a host of other elements.”

Perrill‘s Kyle Enfield adds: “Definitely invest in additional monitors if you’re able to! I used to work exclusively from my laptop, and I picked up a relatively inexpensive second monitor on Black Friday – my productivity has skyrocketed!”

“It’s so valuable to be able to keep multiple windows/programs open while working on various tasks rather than having to constantly switch back and forth.”

12. Show reports and data using visual graphics

Chances are, you’ll still be creating reports when your team at working from home. But when sharing those reports, Banish‘s Daisy Jinh thinks: “Categorized data is better than a report written in paragraphs.”

“With graphs, it helps the report show more detailed data in numbers or in detail.”

*Editor’s note: Make your life 10x easier by using a premade, professionally-designed template. We’ve got a bunch of them you’ll be able to use for anything–including social media, ecommerce, and project management:

13. Hire the right people

I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve already hired my staff. I want them to be productive when they’re working at home.” But Pat Ahern of Inter‘s “best advice for managing a remote team starts with the hiring process.”

“An A+ team member doesn’t need someone to micromanage them. They need trust, a system that makes it easier for them to stay on top of the various projects that they’re working on, and comfort that they can speak openly about issues that they run into.”

Ahern explains: “Our team focuses on hiring people who are humble, hungry, and emotionally intelligent (read “The Ideal Team Player” for more on hiring for these qualities). With new teammates, we set up periodic check-ins to ensure that deliverables are being completed on time and in full to confirm that they have those traits.”

“The A+ team members quickly show that they don’t need someone checking in on all of their deliverables.”

How to Help Your Team Be Productive When Working From Home

By this point, you should have a list of techniques to use that manage the day-to-day running of a remote team.

The only problem? Productiveness. It’s all well and good to set deadlines and hope they get done. But if your staff aren’t productive (and let’s face it, that’s tricky in the middle of a pandemic), they won’t get any work done.

That’s why we also asked our experts how they can help their remote team be more productive when they’re working from home.

1. Allow staff to set their own working hours

We’re going through tough times. Your staff’s productivity levels are likely to take a hit. But when they’re working from home, you’ve got the advantage of allowing each employee to work on their own schedule. (This goes back to the trust we mentioned is essential, earlier.)

Heidi Hecht explains: “Don’t worry too much about how much time team members spend at the job or what hours they prefer to work. They may prefer to work weekends or overnight or need a break to deal with a sick kid.”

“If they’re salaried or they’re freelancers who get paid to be productive, the number of hours shouldn’t matter as long as they’re getting the work done on time.”

Marc Andre of Vital Dollar agrees: “In most office settings, employees are expected to come in and work set hours (like 8:00 am – 5:00 pm, for example). With remote workers, there is no need to be strict with the hours that are being worked.”

“Instead, focus on the goals that need to be accomplished and don’t micromanage your team to try to be sure that they’re working a set number of hours. Some of your team members will be much more efficient working from home and they may be able to get everything done in less time.”

Channels‘ Jakub Kliszczak adds: “Some companies have a policy of straight 8-hour workdays while others let you work 3 hours in the morning, 2 in the afternoon and finish in the evening. Set certain rules and expectations and make it clear for your employees on how to operate while working remotely.”

That’s why Matt Woodley, who manages a remote team at CreditInformative, says: “As long as team members are getting the job completed I’m not concerned about when they’re working. As long as we all catch up for our daily face-to-face team meeting there’s no problem with when the work is being done.”

Plus, “that way, they will do a better job more quickly, instead of dragging a 3-hour task to 8 hours just to fill up their work hours,” as Airfocus‘ Malte Scholz explains.

Chuck Robbins of aro marketing sums this up perfectly: “Manage the work and not the worker. If the work gets done, on time do not sweat what the worker’s journey was to do it.”

2. Carve time for specific tasks

“Working from home can be challenging to stay focused and productive,” says Kristie Holden of Marketcircle–a company who’ve been remote-first company for a few years.

Holden explains: “A tip I’ve shared with my team is to carve out time on their calendar for high priority tasks. It makes it easier to stay focused when you set boundaries in your calendar for the day for what you’re going to work on and when so you are more likely to stick to it instead of letting distractions and fires completely divert your focus for the day.”

David Lynch of Payette Forward, Inc adds: “Create a list of tasks you’d like to accomplish during the day. Every morning, I create a list of things I need to get done and a list of things to work on if I finish my essential tasks. This helps keep me stay focused during the day as I’ll always have something to work on.”

3. Encourage them to track their time

“My advice is to measure the time devoted to each task. There are several tools that give you that opportunity,” says Kate Iwanich from Insightland. “Thanks to this, you know exactly how many minutes and hours you spend on the task.”

“When you sum up the time you worked during the day, you know if it was productive and whether you should demand more discipline from yourself.”

It’s something the team at BestCompany.com do too, according to Alayna Okerlund: “Ask your team members to keep a record of their daily remote work tasks on a virtual document that is shared with you.”

*Editor’s note: Team tracking shouldn’t be a scary thing. Understanding how (and where) you’re spending time helps optimize your schedule and get things done faster. Grab our Harvest Team Time Report to see where your remote employees are spending their time:

4. Set (and share) deadlines as a group

According to Victoria Pierre of LifeInsuranceTypes.com, every remote team should “set deadlines and share deadlines.”

“It’s not enough just to know where you are on your assignments. Having an awareness of where your colleagues are on their tasks and deadlines can give rise to more collaborative efforts, and more efficient work.”

It’s why Shufti Pro‘s Victor Fredung says: “You need to practice what you preach, if you want your teams to be vigilant and respectful towards deadlines, you must regard the time first. Availability and providing timely feedback to teams is the secret ingredient to effective remote team management.”

Melanie Musson shares how they do this at CompareLifeInsurance.com: “Give them ideas of ballpark goals but encourage them to set specific goals for themselves. Make a Google Sheet where employees can set and report on those goals. By making a shared sheet, other employees can help motivate each other.”

Liz Nilsen shares that Agile Strategy Lab follow this criteria when setting any deadlines for their remote team:

  1. “Specific task each person will do
  2. Deliverable
  3. Date it will be done”

“It’s amazing how often we think we have our bases covered, when actually we’ve left out one of those elements – and then are frustrated when our team isn’t making progress,” Nilsen explains.

Kiwi Creative‘s Jen Lombardi adds: “Sort these tasks in order of priority and estimate the number of hours needed to complete them. Do you have more hours estimated than in the workday? Do you have enough overflow time in case a family need arises?”

“Build out each of your days as a team so that everyone knows what needs to get done, and focus more on the outcome of these tasks rather than the length of time it takes to complete them,” Lombardi continues.

Jarie Bolander of JSY PR & Marketing agrees: “It’s vital when you work remotely to have clear and concise tasks and goals. Closing the loop means that you follow up to make sure that what you thought got done, got done. This is not in a micromanager way but to have natural follow up points to ensure everyone knows what’s expected.”

That’s why Kevin Miller of The Word Counter‘s “main tip on managing people remotely: don’t change the way you set objectives and check results. Don’t torture your people with additional performance checkups. The pandemic already gave them plenty of stress.”

But if you’re working with a remote worldwide team, don’t forget that your deadlines can differ based on where your staff is.

Mashon Thomas of Live Work Travel explains: “In today’s global world, the majority of remote teams are spread across various timezones so miscommunications are common if one person is using their timezone to establish a deadline, while their teammate is expecting the item to be done by their time.”

5. Ask them off non-business notifications when they’re working

“The best productivity tip that I have implemented is removing the distractions that are the easiest to get to,” 9Sail‘s Bryan Pattman explains.

“All of the non-essential apps on my phone are on the second page or farther and notifications for all social media are off. I have already caught myself trying to get onto Twitter or Instagram and have been able to put the phone back down and got back to work.”

Pattman continues: “Distractions are going to increase when you move to WFH, but minimizing them is the key to staying successful.”

Nerman Deliahmetovic agrees: “Reduce noise coming from notifications, both private (Twitter, Facebook) and business (Slack). Organize for chunks of time (1-2h) without interruptions, so you can fully focus on the work.”

Maybe that’s why 49% of remote employees say they’re most productive when working remotely. They’re in control over how many distractions they face:

6. Ask staff to report on productivity metrics

“As a manager, resist the urge to micromanage because you feel you want control of something during this time when everything feels out of your control,” says LyntonWeb‘s Jennifer Lux.

“Accept the fact that you cannot thoroughly verify the working hours of your direct reports or even what they are focused on throughout the day.” Instead, measure the desired outcomes of their responsibilities to determine their productivity and focus, by measuring KPIs and quantitative metrics that align with these outcomes.”

Lux explains: “When you focus on results, you’ll indirectly get a sense of their productivity and give them the freedom to creatively meet those goals with less oversight.

That’s why Elliott Jaffa of Dr. Elliott B. Jaffa Associates recommends to “ask each employee to provide via email directly to you two productivity metrics: How you plan to “keep score” of what you did, produced, developed, etc., each day. Glens the lists and share those that would be beneficial to the whole team.”

The team at Handshaking.com also do this, according to Matthew Holmes: “Make sure all new remote workers send an end of day report if they are not already doing that. Really helps increase the daily back and forth communication in a time when communication may feel like it disappeared.”

But as Reuben Kats of Falcon Marketing explains, you should “allow them to be their own boss, but not at the expense of a client. I don’t ever let a task go sitting for too long. That’s where I have to monitor the workflow and see if work is done.”

7. Have a virtual stand-up meeting every morning

“Each team should start the day with a quick & informal 5-10 minute video call that starts as soon as people would normally be required to physically be in the office by (e.g. 9 am every morning, M-F). Wear whatever you want and set the video call to end after 10 minutes,” says Spencer Smith of IRC Sales Solutions.

“Coming from someone who hates meetings, I find this helpful for productivity because it’s much tougher for individuals to stick to a routine when working from home, and consistent routine = productivity.”

Smith adds: “This also ensures everyone’s awake when they need to be and the hard 10-minute cutoff makes next to no impact on anyone’s schedule. You’ll always find something to talk about for 5-10 minutes, but this tip works regardless of what is discussed on the calls.”

PureVPN‘s Rameez Ghayas Usmani agrees: “The daily standup or all hands enables people to greet each other daily and share any new updates. Ensure that each member gets connected to the conference call and gives an update on the progress they’ve made on their tasks.”

“Daily standups don’t necessarily have to be extensive,” Usmani continues. “They could range from 10 minutes to 15 minutes. Or you could divide your standup routine to twice a day with 10 minutes each, one in the morning and one late in the afternoon, whatever is convenient for you.”

Neil Eneix shares three conversation-starters that Fannit uses in their daily stand-up meetings:

  1. Work blockers: These are people letting others know they are being blocked from being able to do their work and need help removing the blocker
  2. Something good: These are items that people share that celebrate our successes as a team.
  3. Something I learned: Perhaps you’ve developed a new way to be productive from home? Or something that helps us work more efficiently for a client? Share it with the other employees!”

Tung Dao of Avada Commerce agrees: “Have everyone on the team to report what they have done in the day, what are they going to do tomorrow and talk about their difficulty when working remotely.”

Similarly, VisitorQueue‘s Nick Hollinger say their topics are:

  1. “What did you do today?
  2. What do you plan to do tomorrow
  3. Did you experience any roadblocks?”

In this meeting, Quincy Smtih of ESL Authority also explains that you can “plan out the week, including goals and tasks, ahead of time whenever possible – this will help mitigate the risk of people losing focus.”

It’s why Justin A. Hill of Hill Law Firm also recommends to “make detailed task lists as a team before the start of each day or the end of each day.”

Plus, it’s your chance to work on that team-building culture, as VPNRanks‘ Abdul Rehman explains: “We introduced our families to each other through the conference call. Someone brought their mom to say hi, someone brought their daughter, while someone showed us their pet dog. It was pretty wholesome and keeps a positive vibe going altogether.”

8. Don’t forget to reward your newly-remote staff

“Remember to perceive colleagues for their exertion and accomplishments,” said the team at Digi Elephant. “Offer to the entire group positive input from clients, or inside clients.”

This works wonders for their motivation. In fact, Mark Reynolds, who has managed a remote team for over 10 years at ProfitReach, recommends to “get inside the minds of your remote workers/teams. I work best when I have absolute clarity on the why. So, find the ‘why’ and instill that in your team.”

Reynolds explains: “The ‘why’ is not about getting paid, although that is motivation. Dig deeper. My customers are experiencing uncertainty and pain in these challenging times. We all need to step up, raise our game and help our customers in their hour of need. Find the ‘why’ that resonates and motivates your remote workers.”

Wiza‘s Stephen Hakami agrees: “Money can be a strong motivator, but doesn’t always have the emotional connection that competition does. As a manager, it’s important to foster competition to keep teams motivated.”

“Celebrate big deals on calls, display each reps numbers in a place everyone can see, and add weekly prizes for the winners. Working from home as a sales rep can make it feel like you’re alone. Fostering competition amongst the team fixes this.”

Plus, Dennis Bell of Byblos Coffee says: “Showing people that the company cares for them will significantly help in motivating your remote workers.”

“For example, remote workers are the same as regular workers, and they also have professional goals. To show them that the company cares, offer advice on how to achieve their objective. Pay for training and development seminars and workshops that align with their own goal.”

“By doing this, you’re guaranteed that your employees will remain focused and efficient,” Bell summarizes.

9. Schedule regular breaks

“You must have a break every few hours. It can be very easy getting into the routine of waking up and working flat out because you have lots to do, but this can become too routinely,” says PDBC‘s Daniel Tannenbaum.

“Before you know it, you are sitting for 10 hours a day straight and not even moving any of your muscles or doing exercise. Compare this to working in an office where you may spend over 2 hours commuting a day, but you are walking a mile on average, on the train, up and downstairs, etc.”

Tannenbaum adds: “You should be more productive working remotely, but you can’t forget to be active.”

Laura Fuentes of Infinity Dish, who has been managing a remote team for 8 years, agrees: “People need breaks, and managers need to understand that just because their team is working remotely that they are available at all hours.”

“Setting boundaries on both sides is important so that everyone is able to come back to work fully charged and focused.”

Summarizing, Ajay Dahiya of The Pollination Project says: “Studies show that workers who take breaks are more productive overall and providing your team space to be creative helps your organization prosper in the long run because your team is encouraged to bring more creative solutions to the table.”

10. Add some competitive fun

To keep your remote team productive, LetMeBank‘s Morgan Taylor recommends to “have some type of leaderboard where they can gauge each other’s relative performance.”

“We didn’t set this up deliberately, we just wanted to track what people were up to but then people get competitive.”

How are you managing your newly-remote team?

Don’t worry if you’re struggling to manage a newly-remote team. It’s a steep learning curve–one you’ve likely been thrown into, rather than chosen by choice.

Use these tips to get a handle over your team, and encourage them to do their best work. Then tweak them as you go.

The most important takeaway? Hang in there. It gets easier with practice.

About the author
Elise Dopson
Elise Dopson Elise Dopson is a freelance B2B writer for SaaS and marketing companies. With a focus on data-driven ideas that truly provide value, she helps brands to get noticed online--and drive targeted website visitors that transform into raving fans.
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