5 Essential Skills Required to Manage a Remote Team

Gimena Aguerreberry
May 15, 2021

Managing a remote development team enables you to access a greater range of resources and specialist team members without the need for lots of physical space in offices.

In today's world, this is a highly practical solution that can even result in increased productivity. But, managing a remote team is not without its challenges and is very different from managing a team working in one building.

Want to know how you can improve your remote team management? Here we list 5 skills you should develop if you want to successfully manage a remote team.

1.Build Rapport

Remote development teams need to build a good rapport with others in their team. Having strong personal connections makes project planning and organization easier and can also boost morale and reduce stress.

As a remote manager, you should, therefore, try to get to know your team.

Consider trying out:

  • Creating an ‘off-topic’ thread in your chat or instant message program for informal conversation.

  • Creating shared docs where team members can add ideas.

  • Making a group Spotify playlist.

  • Starting up fun virtual clubs, like fantasy football.

You also need to treat your team as you would if meeting face to face. This means following through on commitments, active listening, and common courtesies. Remote working can boost productivity, but only when the team dynamics are right, and there is a professional but friendly team environment.

2. Accommodate for Different Time Zones

If your team is based in different corners of the globe, the time zone differences may seem a real barrier to teamwork. To overcome this, you need to find your ‘golden hours.’ These are the few hours in the day when all members can communicate during what is a normal working time for them.

Microsoft Teams, Skype, Zoom, and Google Meets are all great platforms that you can use to easily schedule an intercontinental meeting at an appropriate time.

In these meetings where everyone is available, you should aim to carry out all the essential tasks that require the input of both sides. Use this time to make important decisions, update your project status, and fix bugs.

3. Use the Right Communication Tools Effectively and Efficiently

Video calling has greatly increased in popularity and can be a really effective tool for remote working. According to a recent study, 87% of remote workers feel that using video conferencing makes them feel more connected to the rest of their team, making it essential for good teamwork.

However, you shouldn't feel the need for constant video calls. Documenting things and fixing minor issues probably don't require a group video call, so only use it when it's appropriate and productive for everyone to do so.

To make it easier, plan out what you're going to use different communication tools for. This gives clear expectations to your virtual team and makes organization and effective communication easier for you. It might be that you use email for documentation, phone calls for minor issues, and hose a daily or weekly video call meeting.

You may also consider using an internal social networking/chat program for regular interactions and team announcements for members working remotely to feel more connected.

4. Share Objectives, Deadlines, Achievements, and Decisions

When it comes to remote teams, everyone needs to be on the same page. Communicating with your team about every detail can be more difficult when remote workers are working in different places and at different times. That's why you should always make objectives, decisions, deadlines, and achievements easily accessible for everyone.

Building a transparent culture is an essential management skill. You can do this remotely by documenting and delivering every decision and achievement. This will ensure your employees are all on the same page when working from home. You may wish to deliver these announcements individually or create a shared file that everyone can access.

5. Focus on Tasks Completed Rather than Activity

Remote employees need to manage their work and home life at the same time, often meaning that they need greater flexibility as to when and how they work. While you do need to have good time management and expect the same of your remote employees, it's best to focus on productivity and achievements rather than time spent doing a particular task.

Particularly in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, more people than ever before are working remotely. So, if an employee works from home and completes tasks on time, there's no need to monitor their work time activity. Offering flexibility is key to having a motivated and productive remote team.

Bottom Line

Managing a remote team is not without its difficulties, but it's crucial to get right if you want your software development team to succeed.

Ultimately, teams work better when there's a clear strategy for communication, rapport within the team, strong team leaders, and clear expectations. By using the strategies outlined above, you can make it easier to successfully carry out projects with an in-sync team, no matter how much your team members are separated by space and time.

If you manage a remote team, want to build leadership skills, or simply stay on top of trends and new information, be sure to subscribe.

"5 Essential Skills Required to Manage a Remote Team" by Gimena Aguerreberry is licensed under CC BY SA. Source code examples are licensed under MIT.

Photo by Dylan Gillis.

Categorized under people / staff augmentation.

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