Telecommuting: Four Tips for Managing a Remote Team

telecommutingAs more and more organizations shift to telecommuting, business leaders need to learn new ways of managing remote teams.

In a recent post, Laura Montini interviews Ryan Holiday, founder of marketing agency Brass Check, to get his insights into making the virtual office environment work for your business.

Over the past three years, Holiday has hired remote employees in at least five different states. He has himself lived in four different cities in that same time period, and business is booming.

Telecommuting: Rethink What it Means to Work

“People tend to think that what they do at the office is work, and everything is not work. In reality a lot of things you do in your life make you more successful at work, “ says Holiday.

Employees working virtually need to feel in control of their own routines to be most productive. Some people may be at their most productive early in the morning, while others find working late at night best for them.

Allow your employees to carve out their own time, but set firm expectations about timely completion of projects. Focus on the results of their work instead of the number of hours they spend in their office chair.

Pick the Most Efficient Tools

Use technology to make sure everyone is connected and communicating. For professional services-oriented businesses, project management software like Basecamp is useful for assigning tasks, managing workflows, and collaborating between team members who aren’t in the same office.

Holiday recommends whichever tools you choose, keep them simple, and only choose ones that work for you and your organization.

Fit in Real Face Time

Virtual communications tools make it easy to hold staff meetings or one-to-one reviews, but don’t discount the importance of real face time. If you find yourself traveling to a city where one of your telecommuting employees lives, make the time to visit with them.

“Having a drink with an employee every few months can mean months of seamless remote work,” says Holiday.

Travel Smartly

This last tip from Holiday is more about you as an individual, and less as a business owner. Managing a dispersed team means you have to carefully plan any business travel and think carefully about the returns for you and your business. Business travel has a way of negatively impacting productivity, so make sure you take the time for yourself when it’s necessary.

How do you manage remote employees?