The popularisation of remote working has raised many questions about managing a remote team, especially when it is international. Such a system of work requires a completely new approach and tools, as well as setting priorities. In today’s article, we will present 10 tips on managing a remote team working from different countries.

Virus = Remote Employees

Covid-19 has changed the way many companies work. People in closed office buildings increased the risk of the virus spreading, so management had to find a solution. It turned out to be remote working. Of course, remote working was not invented along with the pandemic, but only now have companies started to implement this model on such a large scale. Some businesses already had experience with home office working. For other organizations, on the other hand, it was a completely new challenge, requiring a complete overhaul of existing management patterns.

Mutual benefits from managing remote employees

Remote working presents new opportunities as well as new problems, but a well-executed system of remote transformation can give your company great benefits. Especially since, at this point, the ability to work remotely is a very important criterion for an organization to be competitive in the market. According to the Growmotely report, as many as 97% of employees surveyed do not want to return to the office full-time. This shows how important it is to be able to at least partially use the home office. 

Besides, for the employer, remote working also means a lot of benefits that are worth taking into account. Firstly – lower costs of running the company. Just the fact that when your team works from home, you don’t have to rent such a big office. Some companies have even given up having an office altogether. After all, the costs of renting such space are very high.

Secondly, employees are less likely to be absent. When they are not feeling well, but are not yet very ill, they often prefer not to take a day off, but work from bed. It is also often easier for them to stop working for an hour or two when they have an errand to run, whereas if they were working from home they would probably take a day off. A Stanford study also found that employees who can work from home are 22% more productive. 32.2% of hiring managers surveyed confirmed that the productivity of remote workers has increased. 

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Choose the model that works best for you

Of course, remote working models are not unitary and depend on the needs and specifics of your business. It’s definitely easier for tech and international companies to send employees to a home office than it is for businesses based on manual work. Take a look at your organization and decide which form is best for you: full remote or maybe hybrid? Or leave the choice to your employees – after all, they know where they work best. Whatever model you decide on, this guide will help you in managing a remote team.

1. Clear organization structure

One of the biggest changes for employees when working remotely is communication. In the office, it is always easy to ask a colleague at the desk next to you who to address with a specific question or if someone is currently on leave or vacation. When working remotely, searching for such information can be very time-consuming, especially in a large or medium-sized company. It is therefore important to use a system that will make this easier.

For example, the Custom Fields feature from Teamdeck (resource management software), can help you, group employees, by the departments they belong to and the skills they have. This is very useful in assigning people to projects and creating reports. It also makes it easier to see who is responsible for what in the company.

Try to manage a remote team without project management tool
To effectively manage remote teams (human) resource planner is a part of each management style

2. Precisely defined tasks and clear expectations

Clearly defined tasks and expectations are the basis of work in general. However, in the remote mode, it becomes something crucial. It’s hard to describe how much frustration, misunderstandings, and delays can result from not having a clearly defined scope of work. That’s why it’s so important that your employees know exactly what you require of them, what they have to do, and what their deadline is. Use a shuffle panel that is updated in real-time. This way, every employee will be given specific tasks in a sprint. They will know exactly what their responsibilities are and when you expect them to complete a particular milestone. It is your responsibility as a manager to ensure clarity and openness.

3. Autonomy of the team and employees

When working remotely, you must expect to lose some control. You are not able to constantly check what your employees are doing. It is very important to hire people who can manage their own time and goals. Independence and trust are essential when managing an international team that does not work from an office. Of course, it’s not that the employees are to be left alone and you will lose insight into the progress of the project.

You must provide your team with maximum support and detailed information about the tasks they have to complete. Keeping track of the key phases of important projects is also very important so that you know what is happening in the company and whether everything is going according to plan. However, if you try to constantly monitor every element of your team’s work, you won’t achieve the desired results at all. You will waste a lot of time checking that everyone is doing what they are supposed to. Your employees will feel frustrated and controlled, and their internal motivation will diminish because they will not feel that they are responsible for their own work.

4. Knowledge of your team’s availability

In the office, you can always ask someone “do you have time for a short meeting?”. Or just come in and present your case in 5 minutes. When the team works remotely, the case becomes much more complicated. Especially when you employ many people worldwide and you can’t control their time for a whole day, week or month. This is also very important if you employ people working in different time zones or part-time.

In this situation, managing availability becomes even more complicated. To keep your business running smoothly, you need to know your team’s availability. It will help you plan your calendar as optimally as possible. This is also where our tool comes in handy. In the Teamdeck calendar, you will find the Availability function.

Every employee can fill in their availability at any time, which makes it easier to plan shifts and meetings. You can also add a repeated availability instead of defining it day by day. 

Managing remote teams and remote work assume successful communication tool
Resources availability view in project management software for the IT and creative industries

When managing a remote team working from different countries, it is also very important to take into account local holidays. This is where the Organizational Units feature comes in handy. It allows you to group your team by location and assign them the appropriate bank holidays. That way, whenever you want to schedule a meeting or a task for your employee, the calendar will take into account the country they are in and the local holidays that apply there.

5. Time management and work schedule monitoring

Project time management – have you ever heard it? You can’t keep asking every team member “have you done it yet?”, “When will you do it?”, “Will we meet the deadline?”. Even when working in a stationary job this would be completely inefficient, let alone when you employ many people around the world! You need to have a system in place to manage projects and work schedules.

When you collect all the tasks and schedules of long-term projects in a clear panel, it will be much easier for you to check that everything is going according to plan and you will be able to get involved only when it’s needed. Such a project resource management software saves a huge amount of time. It also guarantees that you won’t miss anything, because the automated tool will remember important things for you!

6. Use remote project team management software

This advice is also important when you’re working stationary, but when you’re working remotely it becomes crucial because you don’t really have any other options. You can’t oversee everything that goes on in your business without modern management and communication tools. Introducing them into your business is not even a matter of choice anymore – without them, you simply cannot work on a daily basis. 

When working remotely, it is crucial to improve communication between team members. In the office, email is often enough, because with every small thing you could just come to another desk. When employees stay at the home office, email is not the best solution because it is not convenient for ongoing, fast, responsive communication. Consider an instant messaging service like Slack or Skype to facilitate quick information exchange between people. When you work in an international company, face-to-face meetings are a real rarity, so you need a convenient online meeting tool. Zoom, Google Meets or Microsoft Teams will do the job just fine. As we have already mentioned, it is also extremely important to manage the work of your team. Assigning tasks, checking progress on projects, setting milestones and timelines, creating reports, and managing the calendar and holidays. Check what tools such as Teamdeck, Asana or Jira offer you. 

7. Building a sense of teamwork and belonging

It’s hard to maintain the feeling of being part of a team when you don’t even see your colleagues. The feeling of alienation and loneliness is one of the biggest drawbacks of remote working and a big challenge for employers. It goes without saying how important it is for employees and their motivation to feel part of their team. We wrote a little more about this in this article. So how to properly take care of team building while managing a remote team working from different countries? 

Well, to start with you need to focus on what you have available to you on a daily basis, which is online communication. It helps a lot if every day at least for a short time the whole team has a status call. On it, you can discuss current work and progress, but also ask how everyone is doing and how they are feeling. This helps to build a sense that you are regularly in touch. It’s also a good idea to have 1:1 meetings, not only with your manager but also with other people in the company. You can implement a system that matches employees in random pairs and arranges a half-hour meeting where they can get to know each other better.

Regular meetings with the entire company are also very important, where you can discuss major changes and achievements. Chats and channels, for example on Slack, also allow you to stay up to date with what is happening with other people in the company. It’s also a great idea to have a variety of activities for employees, such as online sports or a book club. Whenever you have the opportunity, it’s also worth arranging a team-building event so employees can meet in person. Getting to know your colleagues in this way will make it easier to build relationships later on, even if only online.

Remote workers, remote environment assume team meetings and video calls
Video conferencing tools right to project management tools are such popular like Facebook as main social media app

8. Ensuring transparency and keeping the team informed

There is one thing that can be every manager’s bane and blessing. Gossip. In the office, sometimes all it takes is to say something to a few people, and in a moment everyone knows. And it doesn’t have to be about bad or difficult topics, but also about ideas for development, organising events, new people joining the team and other current topics. Managing a remote team, however, requires you to be much more vigilant about whether employees know everything they should.

In the office, you simply talk about things over lunch or at the coffee machine. When your employees are at home office, it is your responsibility to be transparent and to keep them informed about all important things. Sometimes this requires getting used to it and changing your previous habits. You will certainly have to write emails to the whole team more often and use a common chat room. However, you can be sure that keeping the team informed about what is going on in the company will help you a lot in your management. It is much more comfortable to work with people who know everything that is going on. Besides, employees will also feel part of the company and will be more interested in its affairs.

9. Create a coherent corporate identity, company values, and company culture

When all employees are at a distance, in different countries and cultural contexts, it is difficult to maintain a sense of community within the company. So ensure that your company has its own personality and identity. Create coherent communication for your company. Define what is important to it, what its values are, what its mission is. Let your employees feel that they belong to a place that has its own character. It is important that everyone feels comfortable in the company, so ask your people what they think about company policy. Maybe they have some suggestions or insights? This is very valuable. Especially when working remotely, you have to involve employees in shaping the company and give them a sense that their voice is important. Being part of a group and an organization increases the sense of belonging and motivation.

10. Ensure an excellent onboarding process

When your team works from the office, onboarding tends to follow a similar pattern. During the meeting with a new employee, you tell a little about the company and what you are working on. The truth is, however, that most of the key information about their tasks, processes, workflow, and everything that really matters is gained by the employee from their colleagues by asking about things that bother them. With remote working, there is no such possibility. Employees are immediately thrown into new responsibilities. It is more difficult to ask for advice because they do not always know immediately to whom to turn. Some things are also harder to explain online. Although of course almost everything can be done online and the support of the team is very important. To make it as easy as possible for a new employee to acclimatize, an excellent onboarding process is very important.

Set up meetings with other team members who will introduce the new person to various aspects of the company. You can also do a Q&A session with the remote team members who will not only answer the questions but also give some insight. Try to provide an online course, for example on an e-learning platform. This way, a new employee will always be able to refer back to any lesson until they feel confident in their new workplace.

Managing a remote team working from different countries is a big challenge. Optimizing such a working model will require you to take a new approach and make some changes. However, you can be sure that if you apply the above tips, you will quickly notice an improvement in the management of your remote team.


Make managing remote teams with ease

Teamdeck resource planning software is in use among well-known companies from IT and advertising industries

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