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Remote Team Management: 8 Tips for Effective Communication

by Kevin Bartley

Here are eight actionable and fruitful tips that will help you with remote team management.

According to Forbes Advisor, 28 percent of full-time employees worked a flexible hybrid model that combines home and in-office working as of 2023. Another 13 percent worked strictly from home. If you're a manager, you know it can be a challenge to straddle leadership styles between your in-house employees and those who work at home.

The COVID era forced many companies to develop and adapt to remote work models, yet there are still some lingering fears around the productivity and communication of remote employees.

Here are eight tips for effective communication with remote employees.

8 Actions for Successful Remote Team Management

1. Schedule a Daily or Weekly Call

Schedule a call every morning or week to check in with your remote workers. Use OnSIP's mobile or desktop app—available for free to OnSIP users—so that you can communicate easily and even on the go. Discuss what's expected of them for the day or week, and give them hard deadlines so that they know what they're expected to turn in and when. These conversations keep everyone on the same page and accountable.

Setting up consistent deadlines and boundaries with your remote employees gives them a certain structure that they tend to lose when they leave the office. Remote workers are capable of the same kind of work as their office counterparts, but depending on their work style, they may need to be given clear direction to know exactly what's expected of them.

2. Chat It Up

Take some time to make small talk with your team. Host a virtual happy hour to talk about family, sports, or other common interests that help you bond on a personal level. Also keep a dedicated Google Hangout or chat room open so that your remote workers can communicate with the team on an impromptu basis.

Working remotely means you have fewer opportunities for those sporadic interactions that occurred naturally by being in close physical proximity to your employees. Take the time to talk about your event-filled weekend or the big game and forge camaraderie among your workers that translates into effective teamwork down the road.

3. Implement Video Calls

Have a few video calls or video conferences each week with remote workers and other members of your team. Encourage everyone to turn on their cameras—this isn’t the time to be shy. The OnSIP app can make video calls to any video-capable phone. It also allows you to call your remote employees—either by voice or video—for no extra charge. Simply click on the camera button in your remote employee’s contact page in the app to initiate an instant video call.

Businesswoman using the OnSIP app on her laptop for a remote video conference.
The OnSIP app enables you to make video calls and host video conferences.

4. Choose an Office Platform

Make sure that your remote workers and team members have a centralized platform where they can communicate about projects as a group and store shared documents. Some companies use Slack for team chat. Zendesk and Trello are used widely by customer service departments to keep task management unified across multiple locations.

Basecamp and Asana work great for project management and as team-wide messaging boards that can store large volumes of files. Pivotal Tracker allows coding teams to keep track of development projects and bugs. Whichever you choose, use a platform that makes communication among team members more productive than individual emails. It’s much easier to find documents that are stored in a dedicated repository, than to search through email chains to find the information you need.

5. Provide Constructive Feedback

Don’t save up a list of critiques for the annual performance review. Use your daily/weekly scheduled calls to discuss ways your employee can improve their skills and do a better job of meeting their performance goals. It’s better for remote team management to address issues in the moment before they have time to become a bad habit.

6. Encourage Professional Development

Career growth opportunities play an important role in retaining and keeping employees educated, productive and happy. There are plenty of online professional development resources, like LinkedIn Learning, Coursera and Udemy, to explore. Suggest topics, or better yet, ask your remote team members what they would like to learn and encourage them to sign up for a class or two each year. Follow up to get their feedback about the quality of the courses and see if they would like to share any valuable learnings at your next team meeting.

7. Set Optimal Times to Communicate

Working from home generally comes with the benefit of working flexible hours. But that flexibility can make it hard for employees to separate their work from their private lives because they are always 10 feet or closer to their computer. To prevent burnout, be upfront about the core working hours that you expect your team to keep. Of course there will be times when you need immediate help during an evening or weekend, but that should be the exception and not the rule. Set a good example by avoiding emails, phone calls and texting with employees outside of normal work hours unless it is a true emergency.

8. Schedule In-Person Interactions

Small talk over the phone is a key way to stay connected with your employees. But nothing is more powerful than meeting with them in person. Weekly in-person meetings are feasible for remote workers who live within a reasonable distance of the office. But if your remote workers live across the country, special occasions are probably the best way to retain contact.

For example, throw an employee appreciation picnic or holiday party and invite everyone in the company to attend. For that matter, any company-wide festivity is a great time to gather and create some in-person bonding that transfers into more fluid interactions when you're working hundreds of miles apart.

With these eight tips, you should have no trouble keeping the lines of communication open with remote, hybrid and back-in-the-office employees.

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