Best Practices: Managing Remote Teams

Best Practices: Managing Remote Teams

Unless there are scientists who need to work in the lab, much work in the biotech and pharmaceutical fields—from business development to analytics and marketing—can be done from home.

There are a lot of advantages to working with a remote team. Many employees state that they would like to have more flexibility in terms of hours and location. Also, with so many options in terms of technology, staying in touch usually is not a problem (or, at least, it does not have to be).

Of course, there are some concerns. Without having regular face-to-face interactions, it is hard to maintain company culture, and people may start feeling less connected to the work and their team members.

This article will go over some good ways to continually encourage relationship building while your team works from home.

Encourage Ongoing Communication

It seems as though good communication is essentially a catch-all when it comes to the business world. When you have part or all of your team working remotely, this becomes even more important.

You should make sure that you are doing general check-ins with the full team (depending on the size), as well as one-on-one meetings. It is imperative to ensure that each employee agrees upon the communication channels to utilize (e.g., Slack or Google Hangouts). This understanding will minimize missed messages and confusion. Generally speaking, verbal communication is best (so much can get lost over email and text), so prioritize phone or video chats.

Make Room for “Non-work”

Regardless of whether you are in the office, you should make a point of getting to know your employees and team members, including making time to talk about personal things. Sharing a funny story or anecdote at the beginning of the team meeting or including a funny meme or video in your email can go a long way in keeping people’s spirits high while working from their home office.

Recognize Work Well Done

If you want to create a strong company culture with your remote team, you should make a point of celebrating success – big and small – from teams or individuals. Have a dedicated time for shout outs during team meetings, and let co-workers recognize one another as well. These recognitions are a great way to instill a sense of pride and commitment to the job, which can sometimes be lost when employees are not physically in the office.
As a Manager it is much harder to “catch someone doing something right” when working remotely, so it becomes incumbent to seek out the work that deserves praise, even it means scheduling time to do so.

So much of effective management is based on informal communication and non-verbal cues that are usually lost when working remotely. This is one of the main reasons that team leaders are advocating for a return to the workplace more strongly than individual contributors. But until we get there we all have to sharpen our leadership skills and look for opportunities to improve.

Dave Murphy

The Alpine Group

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