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Managing a remote team

I’ve been managing a remote team since I founded my business 7 years ago. We now have a network of over 150 freelancers, who work everywhere from Cape Town to Croydon, Bristol to Bali.

While the Coronavirus situation has forced most people to work totally differently, at Proof Content the way we work is carrying on pretty much as usual.

Here are my top tips for managing a remote team.

1 – Stay organised

Now’s the time to make the most of the many online tools we keep hearing about. Work out which are the best for your business and needs, and then stick to them for a couple of weeks before you decide they don’t work.

Here are a few we use:

Slack – for keeping in touch with several people on one project

Asana – for to do lists. You can create projects, then tasks within the projects and assign these to different team members

Google drive – a really handy way for you, your team and your clients to see what needs to be delivered when. This is especially handy for large-scale website rewrite projects

Good old spreadsheets – sometimes a spreadsheet is just the best way to keep all your data in one place

2 – Stay social

When I first started my business I just emailed writers. But I now prefer calling writers every now and then, especially when we first meet. Video calling through Google Hangouts, Zoom and House Party are a great way to keep relationships going. And virtual coffees, or a glass of wine at the end of the day keeps the team together too.

Video calls also mean people aren’t trying to do two things at once and can focus on the conversation.

3 – Cut your remote team some slack

Deadlines are really important, but try not to be too strict with how your team go about sticking to them. People have kids at home at the moment and may just work better at different times of the day. As long as they stick to their deadlines this is a good opportunity to give your team a bit more slack.

4 – Make sure your team has everything they need

If someone’s struggling to hear or their internet’s constantly patchy it’s important you try to help them fix it. You could be missing good ideas from people who are finding it difficult to speak up on a call. I recently saw someone using an ironing board as a desk, and their company quickly fixed it. The better your employees’ work situation is, the harder they’re likely to work.

 5 – Communicate

Schedule in some time to go through your team’s targets for the week every week. And make sure you’ve spoken to every member of your team at least once that week.

 6 – Check your remote team aren’t working too much

Presenteeism can be even more of an issue for remote workers than it is for those in the office. Make it clear you don’t need people to respond to emails within minutes and that a couple of hours is fine. If you’re worried about urgent issues, call or text them with things that need an immediate response.

One of the tools we use to track our time is toggl, which you can easily install on your phone or browser.

 7 – Chat one-on-one, regularly

Speak to everyone in your remote team one-on-one at least once a week. Quieter team members can often go unheard in meetings, especially in a new environment. They may also be having problems or ideas they don’t want to bring up in a team meeting, and would usually come to your desk with.

8 – Use this as an opportunity to analyse your team

This is a great chance to see who’s stepping up and who isn’t. It’s an opportunity to see who works well independently and who needs a bit more hand holding.

9 – Celebrate achievements

It’s easy to let achievements slip by when you aren’t together. Celebrate by having a chat at the end of the week, emailing the business highlighting your team’s achievements or simply appreciating their hard work.


How to manage a remote team

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