As a virtual business owner, do you manage a team of employees who are scattered across the country or even the world? If so, you likely use a bevvy of cloud-based software platforms and innovative online tools to delegate tasks and help manage all of the projects your business is working on. You probably also have all kinds of strategic systems in place to help your remote team members collaborate in the best way possible. This collaboration is absolutely critical for moving your business forward so it reaches new heights.
Lately, have you been wondering if your remote team members are working together in the best way possible? Through my experience in managing MaidThis, a top-rated cleaning company franchise that utilizes a remote operational model, I have discovered a number of ways that virtual business owners unknowingly stifle their team’s collaboration, workflow, and overall productivity. Below are just a few of these mishaps to avoid in managing your own remote team.
Not Setting a Regimented Meeting Schedule
Do you tend to schedule spur-of-the-moment meetings with your team members on an as-needed basis (such as in light of a project change)? Rather than do this, set a regimented schedule of weekly team meetings and one-on-one discussions with each of your employees to optimize your remote team’s collaboration. These meetings will give you all the chance to discuss projects and determine which tasks everyone should focus on next. This initiative will also ensure that wires don’t get crossed, where one team member starts working on a pertinent task that is already being taken care of by another employee.
Remember, though, that the set schedule of meetings won’t be effective if you and your team don’t stick to it! We get it — urgent projects can arise, deadlines get pushed up, employees sometimes call in sick… there’s no doubt that every workweek will not go according to plan. However, it is important to make these meetings a top priority so that your team can always be in the know on everything that is going on and to keep projects moving forward. That said, if meetings need to be rescheduled, try to conduct them on the very next available work day.
Relying on Text-Based Communication Rather Than Video Calls
Do you primarily communicate with your employees via text-based methods like emails and Slack messaging? Do your team members also mainly keep in contact via these text-based channels? It is vital for you all to do video calls whenever possible, as the regular “face time” will help you all connect and get to know each other better. Also, the tone in text-based conversations can be easily misinterpreted — on the other hand, video calls allow you to see the other person’s body language and hear voice inflections so you know exactly what they are trying to convey to you. You can also ask questions and get immediate replies, rather than have to wait for responses via email.
Not Setting Key Metrics for Every Remote Team Member to Hit
This is a big mistake that a lot of remote business leaders make. Having key metrics that every remote team member needs to hit is crucial for keeping them productive and amplifying workflow. By setting key metrics like client leads generated, number of marketing emails sent, and monthly goals for sales, every team member will always know what they need to focus on in order to achieve their goals. This can reduce downtime and help promote autonomy in your enterprise, as your remote team members will always have an exact idea of what they are in charge of and will work on their tasks without the need for you to micromanage them.
Not having to micromanage your team will do wonders for both you and your employees. First off, you won’t need to waste a ton of time on constantly asking your team members for updates on project statuses and tasks. You could use the time you’d save to try out new social media marketing strategies and other initiatives that will help you grow your business. Your team members will also benefit, as micromanagement can cause stress and make them feel like you don’t trust their judgement and work ethic. They will appreciate the autonomy and space to focus on the tasks they know they need to complete and the key metrics they need to hit.
Not Having End-of-the-Day Handover Reports for Shift Changes
During shift changes in an in-office business environment, it is so easy for team members leaving for the day (or night) to tell their colleagues who are just starting their shifts which tasks have been completed and what is still on the to-do list. This isn’t the case in remote work environments — team members can easily just sign off when their shift is over without communicating with their coworkers who are just signing on. This can lead to a lot of confusion over project statuses and what tasks still need to be done.
That said, it is absolutely paramount for you, as the team leader, to implement a solid and effective handover system. One way that you can do this is by requiring every single one of your remote employees to write a “Sign-Off Status Report” email that they send to their team members before they log off. This report can provide a quick overview of the work they completed and what still needs to be done. Then, the team member who is just signing on and taking over during the shift change can read through the email and ask for clarification on any tasks they are confused about. These handover reports are key for optimizing workflow.
To Wrap it All Up
As a virtual business leader, it is vital to do whatever you can to optimize your remote team’s collaboration. You will unknowingly stifle their productivity, workflow, and overall collaboration if you rely on text-based communication rather than video calls and don’t set a regimented meeting schedule. Other big mistakes are not setting key metrics for all of your team members to hit and not implementing a solid handover system for shift changes. Avoid these common pitfalls to ensure that your remote team members can collaborate to the best of their abilities.
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