A remote team refers to a group of people working together to serve a common purpose, without being co-located i.e. they are geographically dispersed. A manager’s ability to administer and coordinate such a team is referred to as his skills of managing remote teams.

Simply put, it means managing a team whose members may be located in different offices, cities, or even countries, but they all report to the same organization and the same manager, sharing the responsibility for achieving the set goals and objectives. One best example would be that of a field-based sales team.

Why are the skills of managing remote teams important

Remote teams are increasingly becoming popular in organizations worldwide. There was an 80% increase observed in the ‘telecommunication’ of employees over the years between 2005 and 2012.

This widespread acceptance of the idea of teams being geographically dispersed is not inexplicable. Remote teams have their benefits. For instance, organizations are sometimes able to reduce their overhead costs, at times it also enables work on the project to be continued around the clock, but most of all they have faster access to more as well as better talent since their hunt is not limited to one geographical area. Also, organizations benefit from the retention of such strong talent because there is no undesired relocation required for the employees which could result in job switching.

However, if remote teams are not managed in the right manner, many challenges may arise. So, the skills of managing remote team have become almost a necessity for every organization.

How to improve the skills of managing remote teams

In order to improve your skills of managing remote teams, you must take the following measures beforehand:

  • A solid communication plan. Setting up a communication plan will help in outlining what information is to be communicated and to whom, how and when will it be communicated, as well as the consequences of any setbacks in the process. It should also outline a meeting structure for the team and should be designed such that it prevents any information asymmetry.
  • A well-planned decision making process. You must outline beforehand your decision making process as group, the prime decision maker, as well as your back up plan.
  • Distribution of roles and responsibilities according to the set goals. The first step is, of course, to set and communicate the goals towards the achievement of which all efforts shall be aimed. Then, allocate specific responsibilities to each member and communicate to them who will do what. This will clarify the roles for each team member helping them understand what exactly is expected of them. Ensure that work is distributed fairly and appropriate adjustments are made as the project work changes.